News

Harnessing the boundless creativity of students to tackle future challenges faced by companies

15-11-2023

The industry-Academia Platform (IAP) – iTATU- under the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP), is an ambitious component backed by the Ministry of Investments, Trade, and Industry (MITI) and supported by the World Bank Group, aimed to boost innovation and productivity in Kenya's private sector. The IAP sub-component plays a crucial role in connecting Kenyan corporates with talented students, who tackle challenges posed by companies, in delivering innovative solutions. This collaboration aims to enhance corporate productivity, skills gap bridging and increase competitiveness.

As iTATU continues to bridge the gap between academia and industry, greater strides can be anticipated towards a future that is not only technologically advanced but also sustainable and inclusive.

The Launch of iTATU
iTATU’s inaugural year stands as a testament to the power of student-driven innovation in addressing the complex challenges of our time. In the fast-paced world of technology and industry, the need for innovative solutions has never been greater. iTATU is an open innovation platform that harnesses the boundless creativity of students to tackle future challenges faced by companies.

On July 25th, 2023, the Maastricht School of Management (MSM) made a significant milestone by successfully unveiling the industry-Academia Platform brand name “iTATU” along with its website and upcoming open innovation challenges through a hybrid launch event.

The event themed “Enhancing industry-academia partnerships through open innovation,” engaged stakeholders from both public and private sectors. It successfully raised awareness about KIEP and the iTATU brand, generating interest and participation in the platform. The launch marked a significant stride towards reshaping Kenya’s economic landscape.

OPEN INNOVATION CHALLENGES FROM THE PRIVATE SECTORS

iTATU is more than just an innovation platform; it's a catalyst for change. Through carefully curated challenges, students are invited to put on their thinking caps and devise solutions with support from iTATU facilitators and mentors. In its inaugural year, four prominent companies - Endless Africa, Kenya Power, Milly Fruits, and LRC Foundation - set forth challenges that inspired a cohort of talented students to embark on a journey of innovation.

1. Endless Africa: Transforming the Dairy Sector Through Micro-dairies
Endless Africa company challenged students to revolutionize dairy farming with micro-dairies, promoting sustainability and quality. Responses showcased innovative community-driven models, highlighting a deep understanding of industry challenges and drive for practical solutions.

2. Kenya Power; Green and Digital Transition Center of Excellence
Kenya Power, a pivotal player in the energy sector, sought to address the critical need for sustainable energy solutions. Their challenge centred on establishing a Green and Digital Transition Center of Excellence. This ambitious endeavour aimed to catalyze the shift towards renewable energy sources and the integration of cutting-edge digital technologies. The students' responses were marked by their visionary approach to the energy landscape.

Concepts such as smart grids, decentralized energy systems, and AI-powered management platforms were at the forefront. The ideas showcased a profound understanding of the role technology plays in shaping the future of energy.

3. Milly Fruits Company: Towards Sustainable Mangoes
Milly Fruits, a leader in the fruit processing industry, recognized the importance of sustainable agriculture in their quest to deliver high-quality mango products. Their challenge focused on developing transparency in the mango industry. A growing trend among consumers as people want to know how and where their food was grown or made. Moreover, consumer engagement builds trust which is important to the producers since it leads to increased sales and brand longevity. The more the consumer knows about the product the better choices they will make, and the producers will be able to adjust according to them.

The students rose to the occasion with innovative approaches that resonated around the use of blockchain technology for traceability. Each proposal demonstrated a deep commitment to preserving natural resources and fostering economic growth.

4. LRC Foundation; Unlocking Telephone Farming Opportunities
Student teams rose to the challenge posed by the LRC Foundation, seeking to revolutionize remote farming, where urban-based landowners oversee distant rural farms. Their innovative solutions harness precision farming, bolstered by AI, resulting in higher yields, reduced environmental impact, and improved food security.

Smart farming promotes sustainability, food security, and economic growth through technology-driven, environmentally conscious practices.

Other follow up activities by iTATU Students Impact the community

Geothermal Egg Automation Project
The Geothermal Incubator Automation Project was propagated by iTATU students in the month of September 2023. The project seeks to enhance the geothermal incubator by incorporating sensors, an Arduino-based microcontroller, and GSM technology. These additions will enable remote monitoring and control of the incubator, ensuring that temperature and humidity levels remain optimal for successful egg incubation. The project holds significant potential for the Songoroi Farmer community in Eburu.

This endeavor reflects the spirit of innovation and community collaboration that characterizes iTATU. It also aligns with the broader vision of harnessing geothermal energy for various agricultural applications, thus contributing to the economic empowerment of residents.

What's next
A second cohort of students is yet to start executing the four challenges once more from a local perspective facilitated by the Kenyan mentors. In addition to that, Mobius Motors an automotive company in Kenya that designs, manufactures, and sells affordable vehicles shall be posing a challenge to Green mobility – A revolution from oil to Hydrogen.

Follow iTATU on their social media platforms and check out their website to for updates.
Social media: (Instagram) @Itatu_officialke, (Facebook) @Itatu IAP, (LinkedIn) @ ITATU, (Twitter) @itatu_iap_3i

About the project
The Kenya Industry & Entrepreneurship Project is supported by the Kenyan Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry and funded by the World Bank Group. the project is implemented by Maastricht School of Management. The contents of this news item are the sole responsibility of the Maastricht School of Management, Maastricht University and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the World Bank Group or Kenyan Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry.

MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies

This project is part of MSM's Expert Centre on Emerging Economies. The department is an expert centre on local economic development in emerging and developing markets.‚Äč We capacitate managers and professionals from government, private sector, NGOs, and post-secondary education in Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Latin America. We offer consultancy and customized training programs, and we manage complex projects in key sectors, e.g. water, agriculture and health. For more information click here.

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