UniBrain: connecting business, education and research to drive innovation

indexThe Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) recently launched a new initiative called UniBRAIN (Universities, Business and Research in Agricultural Innovation), which aims to improve agricultural research and university-level agribusiness education in Africa. By linking actors from the agribusiness, education and research sectors, the initiative hopes to drive innovation. Its objectives are:

1. To develop and implement collaborative programmes fostering innovation among universities, research institutions and the private sector.

2. To strengthen African agricultural innovation systems, which are expected to deliver the new and improved technologies that are required to improve agricultural productivity.

3. To develop and implement improved and better contextualised undergraduate and postgraduate agribusiness teaching and learning.

4. To facilitate exchange of experiences and sharing of resources and knowledge.

It is pursuing these objectives through the development of UniBRAIN Agribusiness Innovation Incubators, centres that provide training, research and advice to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), both new and existing, as well as business development services. Their value chain approach means they act to support innovation at every step of the agricultural chain from farmers and producer organisations to input suppliers, marketers and processors. Specific services offered include mentoring and training programmes, access to agricultural research, technology packaging and dissemination, advice on customer, product and business model development and networking between businesses.

UniBRAIN aims to address the lack of human and institutional capacity for agricultural innovation across Africa. On the one hand businesses may lack people who can drive innovation while on the other university courses are failing to provide education relevant to industry needs. The UniBRAIN Incubators will contribute to improving tertiary education, making it relevant to the agribusiness sector and demand driven. [Read more…]