PBL BioAfrica; Innovation Fellows Present Bean Commercialization Model Prototype to University of Nairobi IPMO Office

Background to the Challenge

The Bean Commercialization challenge was informed by the fact that University researcher Professor Paul Kimani from the Department of Plant Science and crop protection in the Faculty of Agriculture has developed more than 50 new improved bean varieties seeds. However, the University has not effectively commercialized them.

Bean Production in Kenya

Bean production in Kenya is low due to use of old varieties of seed beans which are low yielding and prone to diseases among other factors. In addition, seed processing Companies in Kenya do not sell bean seed, they focus mainly on maize seed. 

Based on the background, the Intellectual Property Management office gave the challenge to Dr Samuel Ruhiu of Computing for Development Lab (C4DLab), an accelerator in Faculty of Science & Technology to deal with the challenge and come up with a Bean Commercialization model. C4DLab runs an innovation Fellowship that draws the fellows from graduate and final-year undergraduate students from different disciplines. The fellowship utilizes Problem based learning (PBL) under the PBL-BioAfrica project.

PBL-BioAfrica Project

PBL-BioAfrica Project is a collaborative project of two Finnish universities – Hame University of Applied Sciences and Aalto University, and five African universities. These African Universities include three from Kenya – Egerton, South Eastern Kenya and University of Nairobi, and two from Zambia – University of Zambia and Mulungushi University. PBL-BioAfrica is a faculty capacity building project for Entrepreneurship and Climate-smart Agriculture skills and is funded by the Finnish Ministry of foreign Affairs.

The Teams

The challenge was taken up by the C4DLab Innovation fellowship and Aalto University’s (Finland) International Design Business Management (IDBM) MSc Program. There were three teams – two from C4DLab and one from IDBM.  The fellows were selected from graduate students who applied for the fellowship. Two teams were formed at C4Dlab – Team Blue and Team Bold Eagle.  The teams were multi-disciplinary in nature as shown below:

1Lucy Excellent: PhD student (Faculty of Arts & Social Science)Lydia Zachary: PhD student (Faculty of Business & Management Science)
2Sherwin Orero : Masters student(Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences)Martin Nanje: PhD student (Faculty of Engineering)
3Wyclifff  Ochieng : Masters student(Faculty of Science and TechnologyLoice Mbae: Masters student (Faculty of Architecture and Engineering)
4Maureen Chepchumba: Masters students (Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences)Jacob Manyuon: Masters student (Faculty of Art and Social Sciences)
5Chadwick Bironga : Masters student(Faculty of Agriculture)Berrick Ochieng : Masters student(Faculty of Agriculture)
6Nicholas Obudho : Masters student(Faculty of Business Management Science)Grace Musila: Masters student (Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences)

The two teams presented their prototypes to the Bean seed researcher – Professor Paul Kimani, Intellectual Property Management Office Director – Professor Mary Kinoti, Intellectual Management Officer – Eng. John Maina, and Josephine Mandala – secretary, intellectual property management office.

The two teams received feedback and are preparing the proposed solution and report.

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