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SEI working paper

Supporting bioscience innovation systems in eastern Africa

This paper presents research into bioscience innovation in Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, specifically four bioscience technology clusters and the emerging innovation systems that correspond to each.

Måns Nilsson, Ivar Virgin / Published on 18 August 2016

Virgin, I., Ecuru, J., Nilsson, M., Komen, J., Alemu, A., Chuwa, P., Gasingirwa, C., Karembu, M., Nyange, N., Opati, L., Omari, J., Ozor, N. and Teklehaimanot, H. (2016). Supporting Bioscience Innovation Systems in Eastern Africa. Working Paper 2016-06. Stockholm Environment Institute, Stockholm.

Bioscience innovations have significant potential to contribute to sustainable development and economic growth in Eastern Africa. The research identified barriers and enabling conditions for moving bioinnovations from the laboratory to the market in the region.

The study focused on four innovation systems under the Bio-Innovate Program, which is currently one of the largest efforts to strengthen bioscience innovation in Eastern Africa. These were:

  • technologies to improve cassava, sweet potato and potato crops
  • conversion of agro-industrial waste to bioenergy and value added products
  • value-added products from sorghum and millet, and
  • industrial enzymes for a sustainable bioeconomy

While each of these innovation systems has, to different degrees, made progress and demonstrated the viability of potential products and technologies, the study shows that it is a great challenge to upscale bioscience innovations and introduce them to market.

There is no single, one size-fits-all solution for promoting successful bioscience innovations in the region. Indeed, there may be a number of possible pathways for each individual innovation system in each country. The question to be answered is how public policy can strengthen the conditions for bioscience innovation. The study offers a set of policy recommendations for how to do so.

Download the working paper (PDF: 1.6MB)



SEI authors

Måns Nilsson
Måns Nilsson

Executive Director

SEI Headquarters

Ivar Virgin
Ivar Virgin

Senior Research Fellow

SEI Headquarters

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