icipe announces ten new BioInnovate Africa grants to enable scientists create biologically based ventures that foster a sustainable bioeconomy in eastern Africa

Nairobi, 19 December 2022. The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) through its Bioresources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa Development Programme (BioInnovate Africa) – a regional science and innovation driven initiative – is pleased to announce 10 new grants of approximately USD 10 million for regional innovation collaboration projects in eastern Africa for the next three years. The grants go to beneficiaries in Burundi, DR Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

icipe BioInnovate Africa Programme is supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) to enable scientists in eastern African universities, research institutes, and firms to translate innovative biologically based research outputs into practical uses that address development challenges in the region, thereby contributing to poverty reduction.  

“Our support to scientists in eastern Africa through icipe BioInnovate Africa Programme promotes mutual scientific cooperation, innovation collaboration, and competence building for a sustainable economic growth, and socially inclusive development in the region,” says Dr Claes Kjellstrom, Senior Policy Specialist/Research at Sida.

The innovation collaboration projects were competitively selected by the BioInnovate Africa Programme Advisory Committee (PAC) on 11 November 2022. The projects are broadly categorized into four parts with the aim of improving food production and food safety, reducing post-harvest losses, providing biodegradable alternative packaging materials, and improving human and animal health. These project areas are aligned with the priorities of the recently adopted East African Regional Bioeconomy Strategy, which is the first bioeconomy strategy of its kind developed by a regional economic community in Africa – the East African Community – and the second in the world after the European Union. A bioeconomy will enable eastern Africa to be food secure and develop sustainable industries of tomorrow that are climate smart, protect biodiversity and deliver healthy products to consumers.

The projects and their implementing organisations are:

Improving food production and food safety:

  • Rhizobia-mycorrhizae-based biofertilizer for smallholder farmers, led by the Evangelical University in Africa in DR Congo. Partners include Hope Africa University in Burundi, University of Nairobi in Kenya, and ITRACOM/ FOMI–Private fertilizer company in Burundi.
  • Plant based insecticides for controlling maize storage insect pests and other insect pests of economic relevance to smallholder farmers, led by the Egerton University, Kenya. Partners include The Open University of Tanzania, University of Rwanda, icipe in Kenya, and Farm Track Consulting (Kenya) Limited.
  • Biofungicides for the management of Coffee Wilt Disease in East Africa, led by the Kaffabio Control Agro-Industry Private Limited Company in Ethiopia. Partners include Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization-Coffee Research Institute in Kenya, and Tanzania Coffee Research Institute.
  • Novel biodegradable carrier (from banana fibre) for efficient crop protection, led by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Tanzania. Partners include International Fertilizer Development Corporation in Uganda, icipe in Kenya, and Bio-Corn Products EPZ Limited in Kenya.
  • Using Lactobacillus for aflatoxin decontamination of value added peanut products, led by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience (CABI) International in Kenya. Partners include Makerere University in Uganda, Burundi Institute for Agricultural Sciences, and Uganda National Farmers’ Federation.

Reducing post-harvest losses:

  • Smart-hybrid solar dryers for fruits and vegetables, led by the African Centre for Technology Studies, Kenya. Partners include Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute, Tanzania Industrial Research and Development Organization, National Agricultural Research Organization in Uganda, and GREKKON (Kenya) Limited.

Providing alternative biodegradable packaging materials:

  • Eco-friendly packaging products from cassava and other agricultural wastes, led by Kyambogo University in Uganda. Partners include Institute of Policy Analysis and Research in Rwanda, Ardhi University in Tanzania, and Oribags Innovations (Uganda) Limited.

Improving human and animal health:

  • Supplements to artemisinin-based combination therapy for malaria treatment, led by the Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda. Partners include University of Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan, Université Officielle de Bukavu in DR Congo, and Jena Herbals (Uganda) Limited.
  • Nanoencapsulated-bromelain from pineapple and seafood waste for control on helminths and other livestock diseases, led by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya. Partners include Université Evangélique en Afrique, Bukavu in DR Congo, Sokoine University of Agriculture in Tanzania, and Vetcare® Africa in Kenya.
  • Novel bio-rational products for controlling Tungiasis in East Africa, led by the Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology (Centre for African Medicinal and Nutritional Flora and Fauna) in Kenya. Partners include Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization-Biotechnology Research Institute, Gulu University in Uganda, and AtoZ Group of Companies (Vector Health International, Africa Technical Research Centre) in Tanzania.

“The PAC is confident that the 10 selected projects in this round of funding will promote a competitive sustainable bioeconomy in eastern Africa and Africa as a whole, taking advantage of the African Continental Free Trade Area Agreement,” says Dr Yifru Tafesse, Chairperson of BioInnovate Africa PAC.

A total of 346 concept notes were received in response to the call for concept notes published on 25 May 2022. Those that passed eligibility screening were 138. The BioInnovate Africa PAC shortlisted and invited 28 concept notes to submit full proposals, out of which the 10 proposals listed above were selected for funding.

The selected projects will develop novel products, test them in the market and validate business models for scaling the biologically based solutions in the market during the three years of their implementation. They are expected to conduct important activities like standardization, technoeconomic analyses, and market assessments to establish potential for investment in these new biologically based ventures. It is hoped that the new business prospects presented by these projects will diversify sources of growth in a sustainable way, and provide jobs for youth and women, thereby contributing to increased household incomes of the people in eastern Africa, which is the overall goal of icipe BioInnovate Africa Programme.

“We play an important role in the regional innovation ecosystem of eastern Africa by providing scientists an opportunity to take their innovative research outputs to the market, while addressing some of the pressing challenges like reversing biodiversity loss, mitigating and adapting to climate change, and creating jobs for the youth,” says Dr Segenet Kelemu, Director General & CEO of icipe.  

For the past five years, icipe BioInnovate Africa Programme has supported innovation collaborations between academia, industry, and government that moved research ideas and inventions to market. With a 74% success rate in testing and validating new biologically products and services for the market, icipe BioInnovate Africa was able to deploy several new bio ventures including nitrogen enhanced biofertilizers in Tanzania; aroma honey toffees in Uganda;  high strength waste water treatment in Arusha and Mwanza; vermicompost from coffee and other agricultural wastes in Ethiopia; a sweet potato seed system in Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda; orange fleshed sweet potato puree bakery products in Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda; fungal biopesticides in Kenya and Uganda; black soldier fly larvae in Kenya; and mushroom substrate blocks in Tanzania, among others.

Building on these successes, icipe BioInnovate Africa Programme continues to facilitate and strengthen the capacity of scientists in eastern Africa to co-develop innovative biologically based products and services that foster sustainable bioeconomy development in the region. These efforts are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030, as well as the Science, Technology, and Innovation Strategy for Africa (STISA) 2024, the African Union Agenda 2063, and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.

Notes for Editors:
BioInnovate Africa (the Bioresources Innovations Network for Eastern Africa Development, https://bioinnovate-africa.org/) Programme is a regional science and innovation-driven initiative supported by the Swedish International Development Cooperation (Sida), and implemented by the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe) in Nairobi, Kenya.  BioInnovate Africa supports scientists in Eastern Africa to translate innovative biologically based ideas, inventions or technologies into practical uses, including new business prospects, thereby fostering the development of a sustainable bioeconomy. With support of BioInnovate Africa, scientists in the public and private sector collaborate regionally to develop sustainable solutions that address the region’s pressing challenges, including climate change, jobs, and conserving biodiversity. Participating countries include Burundi, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda.

The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (http://www.icipe.org/) headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, is the only research institution in Africa working primarily on insects and other arthropods. icipe mission is to ensure better food security, health, and livelihoods, by producing world-class knowledge and then developing solutions that are environmentally friendly, accessible, affordable, and easy-to-use by communities. These objectives are delivered through four thematic areas — Human Health, Animal Health, Plant Health and Environmental Health, providing a platform to build the capacity and leadership of African scientists; enable collaboration with hundreds of researchers and partners across Africa and the world; as well as the effective transfer of technologies and strategies to end-users.

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (https://www.sida.se/) is a Swedish government agency. Its mission is part of the national policy for global development. Sida’s activities are funded through Swedish tax revenue. Sida strives to reduce world poverty by allocating resources and knowledge with the goal of making a difference for people in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. To achieve this, Sida collaborates with actors from civil society and universities as well as the public and private sector. Sida has bilateral development cooperation with 35 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe, as well as bilateral research cooperation with 7 countries out of which 5 are in Africa. Sida also works regionally in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa, as well as Europe, and supports organisations that contribute to poverty reduction globally across several thematic areas.

For further information, please contact:
BioInnovate Africa
Tel +254719052433
Email: bioinnovate@icipe.org