Launching iTATU – ideate, innovate and implement, an Industry-Academia Platform in Kenya


On Tuesday 25th July 2023 MSM launched the Industry-Academia Platform to the public. The launch served as the official unveiling of the brand name of the platform, namely “iTATU (3i)- ideate, Innovate, implement”.

This Industry-Academia Platform (IAP) is part of the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP), which aims to increase innovation and productivity in private sector firms. The project supports the Kenya Government Agenda of increasing the Manufacturing Sector's contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), creating more jobs, attracting more investments and creating export-ready firms. The Project’s direct beneficiaries are primarily formal private sector firms in Kenya, including intermediaries (incubators, accelerators, boot-camp providers and hubs), start-ups, corporates, SMEs and talented students in Higher education institutions

The Industry-Academia component aims to bridge the technical skills gaps in the market by linking young talent and academia to the private industry. Maastricht School of Management (MSM) has been tasked to implement the Industry-Academia Platform (IAP) under the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP). The IAP sub-component aims to increase Kenyan corporates' productivity by linking them to students, who will execute challenges posed by the corporates and deliver innovative solutions. The innovations are expected to drive Kenyan corporates' productivity and increase the participating companies' competitiveness. It will also contribute to the employability of Kenyan students by exposing them to “real life” problems and opportunities.

IAP will utilize the open innovation approach in driving the innovations. One of the key activities of the IAP will be to facilitate innovation challenges posed by companies and carried out by multi-disciplinary student teams. IAP will also organize events to showcase innovations and also facilitate networking.

Enhancing industry-academy partnerships through open innovation
The KIEP project subcomponent is dubbed iTATU (3i) – ideate, innovate and implement which was officially launched on July 25th. The launch event aimed to engage stakeholders in both the private and public sectors on the establishment of a sustainable industry-academia platform that will enhance innovation exchanges between industries, students & academic institutions and new product(s) development.

The aim of the festive launch was to introduce the Industry-Academia Platform (IAP) to stakeholders and share the platform’s value proposition. Furthermore the iTATU brand and website were showcased as well as the iTATU innovation challenges.

The iTATU innovation challenges are aimed at linking students in cross-disciplinary teams where they work on innovative challenges that companies need or want support with.  The innovation challenges are at the core mandate of the Industry Academia Platform (IAP) to stimulate open innovation. The innovation challenges seek to mirror the 21st-century workplace and it does this by promoting an approach which makes sure participants:

  • Work in a collaborative group
  • Creatively use technology commonly found in the workplace and expose students to new technologies
  • Tackle real-world problems using a multidisciplinary approach
  • Develop practical solutions to these problems
  • Implement and evaluate the solutions

The Innovation challenges have three objectives:

  1. Enhancing the participation of students in innovation trajectories in industry and contributing significantly to improving productivity.
  2. Provide students with an opportunity to put their knowledge into practice and increase their employability as a result of skills developed during the execution of the challenges. The challenges will also contribute to a culture of entrepreneurship, empowering students to come up with new business concepts that emanate from the challenges.
  3. Expose TEIs to industry experience and at the same time upgrade industry practitioners’ skills through collaborations and peer-to-peer learning.

The innovation challenges will provide a collaborative learning experience in which academia (students and teachers) from universities and TVET work together with corporates, SMEs and other stakeholders to learn about compelling issues, propose solutions to real problems, and take action.

The first four challenges that focus on the agricultural sector are now open for application! The Challenges that are up for application are:

  • Towards Sustainable Mangoes challenge
  • Transforming the dairy sector through micro-dairies
  • The Green and Digital Transition Center for Excellence
  • Unlocking Telephone Farming Opportunity in Kenya

For more information on the application procedure for the challenges, click here.

We look forward to increase the employability of the students and promote a culture of entrepreneurship through the iTATU Industry-Academia Platform. For questions regarding this project or the platform, please contact Dr. Julius Gatune Kariuki.

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 Center of Emerging Economies (ECEE) and will be led by Project Director Dr. Huub Mudde and Project Manager Stefano Locatelli. The project will run from June 2023 until May 2027. 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.