What happened at the Inaugural Accelerate Lab 2017
The inaugural 10-day long AccelerateLab2017 took place in Uganda and involved key stakeholder engagements, a workshop, a hackathon and ‘learning journeys’.
The Lab was organized to rally key stakeholders, put in place strategies for a Multi-Stakeholder Platform (MSP), resource mobilization (financial, expertise, materials and mentors) but most importantly bring the first batch of youth and students from different universities, institutions and agribusiness startups together to start on the journey of collaborative innovation, bring ideas into motion and get the work going.
Aug 16 & 24, 2017 Kampala, Uganda
Stakeholder engagement is at the heart of any collaborative initiative. The Accelerate Team had very fruitful strategic engagements with key and relevant institutions in Kampala.
These included the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA) whose Youth Agripreneurs Program is a force reckon with, the Innovation Village Kampala – the biggest community of young innovators, the Open Impact Institute, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) whose consortium of 66 universities across Africa is a fertile ground for coordinated student exchange programs, Uganda Martyrs University whose Center for Excellency in Agroecology is another force to reckon with, and the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) whose Integrated Country Approach for decent rural youth employment strategy meets part of the mandate of Accelerate.
The Accelerate Workshop
Aug, 17, 2017 Makerere University
The inaugural lab brought together participants for a multi-stakeholder and multi-disciplinary workshop at Uganda’s oldest and leading institution of higher learning and one of the leading universities in Africa – Makerere University.
The student exchange and workshop brought together efforts that focused on youth, education, innovation and sustainable agribusiness and served many goals directly and indirectly, including: food production in areas where it is critically needed, opportunities for youth in rural areas, increasing entrepreneurship and agribusiness opportunities in agriculture, equitable agribusinesses from the grassroots, a new generation of farmers who embrace knowledge-intensive and sustainable transformation, harness collaborative innovation as well as knowledge and technology transfer, increasing global perspectives in our farm management and agribusiness training programs.
The workshop was officiated by the Vice Chancellor of Makerere University, Prof. John Ddumba-Ssentamu and other senior educationists including; Prof. Adipala Ekwamu, the Executive Secretary of RUFORUM, Assoc. Prof. Teun Dekker and Prof. Kostas Karantininis – the theme leader & deputy theme leader respectively – Efficiency in Farming Systems at SLU Global, Prof. William Kyamuhangire, a champion of food processing innovations and former Agriculture Minister in Uganda Hon. Victoria Sekitoleko – a champion of youth and agribusiness development.
The workshop proceedings put in place strategies to;
• Increase the attractiveness and interest in agricultural programs worldwide
• Provide a platform for interlinking courses between programs and bidirectional exchange between programs
• Identify knowledge gaps in the formal educational and informal circuits (short courses, online resources) that are pivotal in agribusiness skill development.
• Permeate agricultural and agribusiness programs with a global and sustainability perspective
• Facilitate platforms and harness the potential for collaborative innovation and blended learning .
• Build new and future agribusiness networks, harness mass collaboration and increase future equitable trade opportunities with emphasis on environmentally sustainable products and services along the value chain.
The workshop involved keynote addresses, expert panel discussions, plenary sessions and synthesis discussions.
The ‘Accelerators’ came from myriad backgrounds including local youth innovators and agripreneurs in Uganda, students and teachers from local, regional and international universities, civil society as well as seasoned mentors from the business development field, entrepreneurship, leadership and academia.
Key outcome from this inaugural workshop was the commitment from a diverse stakeholder network to champion the mandate and vision of Accelerate as a key platform for creating educational linkages with the private sector for agribusiness development.
The Accelerate Hackathon
Aug 18, 2017, Makerere University
Hacking is collaborative problem solving. On the second day of accelerate, the young talented youth and students were tasked identify key challenges hindering agripreneurship development, ideate, prototype and come up with business models.
But first, they were taken through design thinking process, business modeling and user entered design by Brian Ndyaguma, a renowned expert facilitator in the fields in question.
The hackers were randomly grouped into six teams and each team was assigned a thematic area covering the entire agribusiness value chain. The thematic areas were; sustainable production, value addition, market development and linkages, information and knowledge extension, educational exchange, and rural innovations.
Meet Featured innovators from the Hackathon
Ambrose Kamya & Ramathan Nkutu, et al
Students, Makerere University
Innovation: Pesticide Residue Detector (Biosensor)
The organic food market is growing globally and reached $81b in 2016. Local and regional organic food consumption is equally growing at an exponential rate. But a challenge still remains on how to ascertain that there are no pesticide and other chemical residues in food. Farmers need to be sure of the food quality they are sending to the market, exporters need to be sure that the organic food consignments they are exporting will pass the residue tests so buyers don’t reject them, and healthy conscious consumers local and international need to be sure that they are paying a premium price for food that is indeed free of pesticide residues. But there has not been an easy way or device to do this.
Ambrose Kamya (Bsc. Agric) and Ramathan Nkutu (Bsc. Software Eng) both students at Makerere University, have developed a Pesticide Residue Detector (PRD) Biosensor that is quick, potable and useable onsite by anyone. It uses both light and current principles, where a prepared sample is illuminated, part of the light is absorbed by the solid in sample due enzyme-pesticide reaction and the rest is transmitted to form current. Due to a curvilinear relationship established between transmittance and current for the different pesticides through a series of experiments, the unknown concentration of the pesticide in the sample is displayed on the screen. It has also got a mobile app, where a buyer away from the test scene can obtain results of the test in real time by just inserting a code provided by the testing personnel.
This kit will be affordable and easy to use by any ordinary person and it comes in handy for many youth urban and peri-urban organic food producers as they close in on the high value organic market that is growing. This comes as an alternative for organic certification, which is always cumbersome, bureaucratic and super expensive.
Key Outcomes from Accelerate Lab 2017
• Accelerate conveners committed to continue to organize innovation labs, workshops and stakeholder engagements in different locations; the 2018 key event being Accelerate Lab 2018 in August in Kampala Uganda
• Following the hackathon, the ‘Accelerate Agrifood Fund’ was established that is working to pool funds to provide startup capital, mentorship and resources to scale the brilliant youth and student ideas.
• Over 30 institutions have already been engaged under the Accelerate Network and more are joining. Accelerate is open for interested and relevant institutions to join the consortium. There are continued engagements to rally support and tap into resources and expertise of other key relevant stakeholders including government and international development agencies, knowledge institutions and business development partners. Since the end of Accelerate Lab 2017 in August, key strategic engagements with fruitful prospects have been made notably; the FAO in Uganda, the Ugandan Embassy to Nordic Countries, the Minister of Finance Planning and Economic Development and the Swedish Embassy in Kampala.
• Already, over 300 youth and students are being incubated under the Accelerate Lab. These youth agripreneurs and innovators will be continually engaged and supported by a multi-disciplinary team of mentors to make sure the ideas grow into startups and profitable agribusinesses.
• Participation in Global Challenges University Alliance, GCUA. This academic alliance aims at bringing together top universities from around the globe to discuss issues on food security, bio-energy, and sustainable urban development and climate action.
• Throughout the workshop, hackathon and learning journeys, real peer-to-peer networks were sparked. Students from different universities connected as well teachers, innovators and entrepreneurs. Accelerate remains a platform for making meaningful connections for mutual benefit. Business links and possibilities were also established between local agripreneurs and also for the export market to Europe respectively. We continue to harness these collaborations and networks and are always excited to learn about what Accelerators are doing together even outside of the initiative’s arrangements.