Problem Based Learning (PBL) is one of the many instructional methods that have evolved in the long history of education. The approach allows learners to address real-world issues. Problem-based learning begins with real-world challenges, provided by industry partners such as companies, governments, non-governmental organization, development partners or even the academic institutions. The challenges/problems become the tools or guides to help students acquire relevant knowledge, while attempting to create appropriate solutions.

As a leading institution of learning and research, the University of Nairobi, through C4DLab (the Innovation and Incubation Hub) has been running structured PBL courses under the annual a 6 month-long prestigious Research & Innovation Fellowship, as part of the PBL East Africa Project in collaboration with Aalto University from Finland.

The competitive fellowship gives 20 select fellows an opportunity to solve real-life local problems while applying the 21st century 4Cs skills and explore human-centered design / Design thinking methodologies. The fellows – together with other curious change makers and a community of research and innovation experts – engage in rewarding research, problem solving and innovation projects in financial services.

2021/2022 Cohort

Business model and commercialisation strategy for new bean varieties – UoN IPMO

The 2021/2022 cohort of fellows teamed up to tackle an open-ended problem presented by the Intellectual Property Management Office of the University of Nairobi.

Status: Ongoing

Client: UoN IPMO

Selection Criteria

To be admitted, the fellow will be required to have satisfied the following requirements:

  • Final level undergraduate and Masters-level students (interested PhD students will also be considered)
  • Students from the following Schools/faculties/departments: Computer Science, Business, Development Studies, Sociology, Psychology, Anthropology, Law, Actuarial Science, Engineering, and Agriculture
  • Curious about research and innovation and particularly application of Design Thinking to solving real-life local problems.
  • Submit evidence of challenges that one has attempted to solve, CV, practical work portfolio and a motivation why your application should be considered.
  • Available to commit close to a 6 month-long program allocating an average of 15 hours per week to the fellowship program.
  • Demonstrated passion and interest in problem-solving and innovation challenges.

Application Process

  • The applicant will be required to fill a four-part form that will collect the following information:

    Personal Information: This includes basic information about the applicant such as name, student identification number, etc.

    Educational Background: Considering the Fellowship program targets students at specific education levels, the applicant is required to fill in the correct information regarding their education history/current status

    Professional Background: The applicant is expected to answer a couple of questions about their interest in the fellowship and ways in which it will aid their career paths.

    Documents Upload: Finally the applicant will be required to upload specific documents that include their CV,  Work Portfolio, Academic Recommendation Letter and Professional Recommendation Letter

What Will You Get out of It?

The select fellows will undertake a deep immersion into four pillars that shall prepare them as researchers and innovators. The four pillars are:


21st century 4 C’s skills of Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity.


Principles and practices of Design Thinking, Innovation, and Problem Based Learning (fundamentals)


Multi-disciplinary practical problem-solving.


Practical research techniques – data collection, surveys, Focus Group Discussions, observation, and contextual interviews.

Have any questions?

Contact Us: / (254)790-413 836

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