University-business incubator to boost the economy

A Tripoli University Business Incubator is to be created in the Libyan capital in an effort to narrow the gap between university educational outputs and the needs of the workplace, and to encourage new businesses. The initiative supports Libya Vision 2020, which includes sweeping higher education reform.

The incubator project was outlined in a 12 June agreement between Tripoli University and the Tripoli Business Incubator Centre, which is part of Libya Enterprise, the Ministry of Economy department responsible for promoting small- and medium-sized enterprises in Libya.

The Tripoli University Business Incubator aims to support projects at universities being incubated into business ventures, to attract finance from businesses, impart useful skills among students and provide employment for graduates.

“Businesses have long complained that Libyan universities are mass producing students who are not adequately skilled for the workplace,” reported the Libya Herald. Libya Enterprise had been working closely with the Ministry of Higher Education “to encourage students to prepare for the workplace and become more entrepreneurial”.

Vision 2020's higher education initiatives

The new incubator is a step in implementing the Libya Vision 2020 project, which includes using higher education, science, technology and innovation to build a knowledge-based and more productive and competitive economy.

Libya Vision 2020 will be pursued in a phased approach to transform the war-battered North African country through large-scale initiatives that focus on overcoming key constraints and advancing solutions to development challenges.

In terms of higher education, this involves, among other things:
  • • Re-evaluating the process of payments and eligible fields of study for government scholarships.
  • • Re-assessing the governance of the national education and training system.
  • • Developing curricula to respond to labour market needs and provide a solid grounding in values, cultural heritage, innovation and creativity.
  • • Introducing stringent quality assurance mechanisms to ensure that institutions are well developed, independent and accountable.
  • • Creating industry-academic links by including industry representatives on university boards in order to ensure a proper mix of theoretical and practical education and promote high quality, demand-driven courses that produce employable graduates .
According to the Libya Vision 2020 website: “Due to the absence of a coordinating body to define a systemic vision for the evolution of Libya’s education system, delivery of quality education in parallel with system expansion has proven difficult.”

Poor implementation of education policies had stalled quality assurance and led to a mismatch between graduate skills and labour market needs. Transforming the system would also require more effective governance mechanisms.

The vision calls for Libya to become a contributor rather than just consumer of scientific and technological innovation – a goal that the Tripoli University Business Incubator will hopefully help to realise.

The country must develop a science, technology and innovation framework that channels resources into research and development, upskilling the national workforce and raising teaching quality in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, says Vision 2020.