Kenyatta University – From Kenyan Research Labs to the Commercial World

About Kenyatta University

Kenyatta University (KU) is a public research university established in 1985 with its main campus in Nairobi County, Kenya. Kenyatta University collaborated with Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) as the primary stakeholder in the Research-2-Commercialisation (R2C) project, given its mandate to drive the commercialisation of the research agenda by the Government of Kenya.

How the RISA Fund Grant was Used

The objective of the R2C project was to develop a curriculum that would increase the rate of research commercialisation in Kenya and the region, by increasing the rate of transition of research output and intellectual property in the market.

The aim of the curriculum was to train funded researchers on how to move their technologies from university labs into the commercial world in the following areas: Business modelling & customer development; technology-market-revenue-fit; sales and marketing for commercialisation projects/start-ups; commercialisation strategies; monetisation of intellectual property; finance and accounting; the perfect pitch; venture capital funding & commercialisation; conduct customer development to generate revenues/orders.

Top Findings and Achievements

  • There is a significant support from local players including incubators, investors, and institutions willing to partner in the R2C Project.
  • Partnerships are key for the successful initiation and delivery of projects; for example, Kenyatta University’s partnership with KeNIA made the R2C project more impactful.
  • A press release for R2C was developed and a landing page created at the KeNIA website to increase demand and registration of cohorts.
  • A bootcamp training programme was developed; this consisted of a selection criteria, an R2C curriculum, mentorship and an implementation plan.

Recommendations and Next Steps

  • Development of a central database for intellectual property in Kenya (patents, copyrights, plant varieties). Currently, there is a database of patents and trade marks at the Kenya Industrial Property Institute.
  • Development of commercialisation guidelines and a review of the Universities Act in Kenya to include clauses on commercialisation.
  • Kenyatta University is developing the R2C guidelines for Kenyan universities and research institutes, with the support of European Union (EU).
  • Kenyatta University plans to build a market for R2C by tapping into Kenya’s robust private sector.