The African Institute for Science Policy and Innovation (AISPI) was established as the Technology Planning and Development Unit (TPDU) in 1974 primarily to conduct policy research on how to harness Science and Technology (S&T) for economic development and to advise government on S&T matters. The unit designed M.Sc and Ph.D programs in Technology Policy and Planning which were approved by the senate of the University in 1983. This made the Obafemi Awolowo University the first African University and one of the few in developing countries to award postgraduate degrees in this field. From 1994, the postgraduate degrees in Technology Policy and Planning were replaced with programs in Technology Management to make the program relevant to public and private sectors.

The unit has made tremendous progress in terms of achieving its mandates. It has produced over 150 and 50 M.Sc and Ph.D degree holders respectively in the field. The unit also offers courses such as Technology Policy and Industrial and Engineering Economics to undergraduate students of the Faculty of Technology. Staff of the unit have served in many national assignments such as in National S&T Policy reviews, technology needs assessment and the establishment of a Science and Technology Park for the university. In the area of research, members of staff of the unit have produced numerous publications in reputable national, international peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings.

Based on the need to expand the scope and activities of the unit, the University in collaboration with the Nigerian Universities Commission (NUC) and UNESCO agreed to upgrade the unit into an Institute. This was necessary to meet the increasing demand for training in Technology Management and S&T policy studies and; to increase the awareness of Technology Management as the backbone for national development. Thus, the unit was upgraded to the African Institute for Science Policy and Innovation in May 26, 2011 by the Senate of the University. The final approval was given by the Governing Council of the University in June, 2011. As a result of this, the NUC designated OAU as the hub of the National Network of Science Policy Programmes and Centers.

The upgrading also empowered the Institute to; provide consultancy services and up-to-date information in response to industry needs; take up projects for solving organizational/industrial problems; provide a conductive environment that will encourage and activate research activities to upgrade the quality of overall teaching and learning within the Institute; be in a better position to establish linkages with industry; facilitate high quality contract research programs of direct relevance to the county‘s need and; contribute to a strong knowledge economy through industry-oriented research training and fostering a culture of innovation