Professor Bavesh Kana (left), Head of the Centre of Excellence for Biomedical TB Research at the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), spoke up in defense of researchers during the wrap-up session of Universities South Africa’s recent Executive Leadership Workshop on Commercialisation of Research, that was held in Cape Town.

“I am growing concerned about the use of somewhat polarising language that’s emerging in the dialogue,” he said. “One almost gets the impression that researchers are the problem: We’re ‘not entrepreneurial’. We’re not ‘business-like’, we ‘don’t live in the real world’,” said Kana.

“Just as a reality check, we live more in the real world than most people. The average researcher must write the same grant application six to nine times before it’s funded. You then must battle against all resources to get the job done. After you get the research done, you bounce from journal to journal to get the work published. And at the end of this, you try to graduate a student, and then afterwards you’re told: ‘Why aren’t you commercialising? “