BioInnovate Africa Programme, based at the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe), supports scientists to link biobased technologies to business and the market. With nearly 40 private companies and more than 50 universities and research institutes involved, BioInnovate Africa is so far, the largest regional innovation-driven bioeconomy platform in Sub Saharan Africa. Private companies co-develop products together with their university or research institute counterparts, and thus become an important route to commercialized biological based research ideas and inventions.
In July 2018, BioInnovate Africa organised a biobusiness boot camp (BBBC) for the scientists and private companies to refine the pathways to market for the innovative products being developed in the Programme. Of great importance was the business models, which included product offerings and value proposition to potential customers.
Leveraging the strengths of both science/academia and business to promote bioinnovations for sustainable development
The Bio Business Boot Camp was a new experience for the diverse projects teams. It enabled them to harmonise their roles and responsibilities as co-developers. It also strengthened their capacities to effectively introduce innovative products to the market in a sustainable manner. Prof. Francis Mulaa, a leading biochemist at University of Nairobi, and who is one of the co-developers of a novel industrial enzyme had this to say:
“This boot camp allowed our team to internalise our project and figure out the path we want to take to achieve our vision. Through the discussions with the various team members, we developed our value proposition and identified our target market. In addition, this interaction has given us the courage to scale up our product, something that is can be a challenge for those of us in academia. It is interesting to interact with the people already in the market to assist us better commercialise our product.”
The three-day intensive interaction, through diverse individual and group activities, streamlined expectations from scientists and business leaders in implementation of their projects and made strides in strengthening the capacities of participating firms to commercialize their innovative products and services. Creating relationships, leveraging on each of the partner’s strengths, having a common vision and regular communication are best practices in innovation and co-development. Dr. Dorothy Nakimbugwe, a lead insect scientists from Makerere University, who is deriving proterin sources from crickets and grasshoppers, concluded that:
“The three- day intensive interaction has been an eye-opening session especially for those with little business experience. We had the opportunity to understand our product, the importance of branding and developing marketing strategies that are effective for our target market. This has also provided an opportunity for our project team to align our goals and responsibilities and ways in which we can leverage each of our strengths”.
The workshop was facilitated by Growth Africa Ltd, and other experienced professionals
Click here for photos of the workshop