Danida Alumni - return on investment in form of contacts and network

Successful African Firms and Institutional Change (SAFIC) Conference, CBS April 2016
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By Vibeke Quaade

Danida Alumni can become an important instrument for universities and research institution’s bid to open up and collaborate more with business partners, NGOs, consultancies and government institutions and Danish missions abroad, according to Soeren Jeppesen, Associate Professor, Department of Intercultural Communication and Management, Copenhagen Business School.

If a company or for that matter an NGO need a contact or knowledge of research done in for example water or environment in Africa, then the new Danida Alumni is an obvious place to explore. The network has the ability to be part of promoting cross-sector collaboration in developing countries between research institutions and other agencies. In that sense, the Alumni is the return of Danida’s investment, says Soeren Jeppesen.

Secure future university and research collaboration
During the start-up phase, in 2016, the target group for Danida Aumni are current and former fellows who have been granted a study stay in Denmark at Master and PhD level. In the next phase, the target group will be expanded to include Danida fellows who have been in DK on shorter courses.

Soeren Jeppesen suggests that - at a later stage - the target group should be expanded to include researchers and postgraduate students of universities and research institutions independent of the Danida Fellowship Centre.

Our main academic partners in the South have not necessarily been in Denmark as Danida fellows or participated in the centre's courses abroad. Yet, we have worked with our partners for years. Long term it would make sense that our key academic partners in Asia, Africa and Latin America join the Alumni platform as part of a strategy to secure the future cooperation between Danish universities and universities in the South, he says.

Couldn’t do it without South partners
Copenhagen Business School has a long tradition of research and educational cooperation with the global South. When asked what the university benefits from this collaboration Soeren Jeppesen answers without hesitation.

We couldn’t do the research we do in Asian, African and Latin American without collaboration with our local colleagues, he says.

The international colleagues simply have the local cultural insights and contacts that it takes to undertake solid research abroad, he explains. It is important for the Danish universities to maintain good technical cooperation with universities and colleagues in the global South.

For this purpose, Danida Alumni will be of help. In particular, if the target group is expanded, according to Jeppesen.

Vibeke Quaade is Senior Communications Advisor specialised in international development. Vibeke helps Danida Fellowship Centre setting up Danida Alumni. Email: vibeke.quaade@gmail.com, www.vibekequaade.com