Staff at the 5th Research Excellence and Innovation Awards at USP’s Laucala campus.
The University of the South Pacific (USP) rewarded its best-performing academic staff and students for their high quality research outputs in 2015 at a special Research Awards Evening on Friday 11 November 2016.
This annual event recognises the contribution of staff and students towards research excellence and achievement, through the Vice-Chancellor’s Prizes, High Quality Research Publication and Patent Awards.
Mrs Salaseini Daunabuna, Permanent Secretary of Fiji’s Ministry of Employment, Productivity and Industrial Relations was chief guest at the awards.
In her keynote address, Ms Daunabuna said USP offers many exciting opportunities allowing for not only those seeking further education but also for those looking to develop their creative and research skills and involve themselves in modelling inventions and patents.
“You have achieved milestones, research publications, inventions and patents – congratulations to you all. For those that aim to be a part of those awards, keep persevering and remember that if at first you do not succeed, keep trying,” she advised.
According to Ms Daunabuna, her Ministry has invested in human capital through training and knowledge sharing to ensure that it contributes to the development of innovation and promotion of productivity both on a micro and macro level.
She stated that in terms of initiatives incorporating human capital and innovation the ministry has undergone and will continue to undergo labour reforms.
“We also provide training at workplaces to give management and workers’ representatives the tools, skills and knowledge in terms of employment conditions and requirements that help them better manage and resolve workplace and employment matters,” she noted.
These individuals she said, are being trained and engaged in utilising productivity employment tools and sharing of best practices with other organisations.
These initiatives assist the Ministry to strive towards excellence and innovation at national and international level.
“We continue to invest in people though training and upskilling so that service deliverables are met,” she said.
Professor Rajesh Chandra, Vice-Chancellor and President of USP said research has been an area which needed the demonstration of greater capability, ever since it started on the Strategic Plan.
“Therefore when we see the achievements in research, it is very pleasing,” he remarked.
According to Professor Chandra, the area of tertiary education is getting more crowded in the Pacific and research is one area where the University has extremely good capacity to differentiate itself in.
“The value and success of USP in the future will depend on everybody clearly seeing that extra service that USP delivers – it is in the area of research and innovation where USP can clearly excel,” he said.
He added these areas are where member countries are more willing to support USP more than they are giving to their own national universities.
Professor Chandra cited Fiji’s case where the Honourable Minister for Education has always accepted and supported USP’s role in the area of research, how USP can be an inspiration and how it can assist national universities upgrade their own research area.
“If we succeed in this area, we strengthen our case for significantly larger support from member countries. So research is very important,” he noted.
Professor Chandra said a number of other countries wish to have more of their researchers trained, and get PhDs and hoped that USP can provide more solutions to their larger development challenges.
“So the more we link our research to what matters to all these countries, the more they see the value that we deliver and the more we align our research to the needs of those countries, the better the success we will have in getting them to contribute to more funding,” he added.
Professor Chandra stressed it is equally important not only to ensure that research is widely disseminated to the public but that it has an impact on public policy.
“For the past four years we have been having these awards. This year the name of the event has changed to Research Excellence & Innovation Awards which reflect our stronger interest and focus on innovation and invention, and a very explicit recognition that patents represent the pinnacle of research outcome,” he stated.
Also recognised at the event were two USP inventions that have received patent certification from the Australian Government and registered under the Australian Patents Act. They are the mobile cane for the blind and visually impaired and portable wave solar energy harvesting device.
Professor Chandra added that by having these two patents registered, USP demonstrated it has the capability to do this kind of work and hopefully the University can have a constant stream of inventions.
More than 100 staff and students were rewarded for high quality publications ranked A*, A and B in the year 2015, with over 140 publication titles being recognised.
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