Bio-Innovate has invested heavily on partnership as its strategy to deliver bioscience and bio-resource innovations to the end user. Each of the consortium projects is carefully designed to include key partners that span the innovation value chain from the laboratory or experimental field to the farmers or industrial partners.
Adolf Olomi, CEO of Banana Investments Limited (foreground in spectacles) explains
to Program Management Team and project 5 members his challenges in managing
agro-industrial waste emanating from his factory in Tanzania. (photo credit: ILRI/Albert Mwangi)
A consortium will typically be composed of a team of scientists, private sector player, NGOs working with farmers, and other development practitioners depending on the nature of the project. In addition, Bio-Innovate is also collaborating with policy makers in the region recognizing the critical importance of an enabling policy environment that supports the uptake and adoption of innovations in the region.
The Program recognizes the strengths of the different actors along the innovation pathway and is trying to leverage on these strengths to deliver innovations to the market place. Through these partnerships, there will be transfer of technologies to small and medium enterprises operating in the region and smallholder farmers. The Program strongly believes that this is a workable and productive formula if carefully and effectively executed.
However, working with such a heterogeneous group is fraught with numerous challenges simply because of the nature of the partners involved and the starkly different ways in which they operate. The Program has to carefully balance the interests and mode of operation of these different partners to ensure smooth and synergistic functioning of the consortium working towards a common goal.
“Each of the consortia projects is carefully designed to include key partners that span the innovation value chain from the laboratory or experimental field to the farmers or industrial partners.”
On one hand, you will have a team of scientists drawn from different research institutes and universities coming up with the innovative ideas to solve a specific problem and who derive satisfaction in generating new knowledge. On the other hand, you have industrial partners whose modus operandi is very different and who are more interested in practical quick answers leading to a product or solution and make a profit in the process. These widely varying interests have to be balanced to deliver results.
Bio-Innovate is addressing this challenge by first having all partners commit to the course through contracts at the inception of the projects. The program has also developed a manual that covers all aspects of the project implementation process that all project partners are required to abide by. In addition, these partners are actively involved in in the project implementation from inception to the end to participate in shaping of project activities to ensure the innovations developed are relevant and market friendly and in a form that can easily be adopted. Each of these partners including the private sector has a clear role and activity plan to deliver on, with a corresponding budget and is required to participate in all annual planning and review meetings coordinated by the PI and monitoring and evaluation exercise conducted by the Program.