Mawazo Institute Research to Commercialization (R2C) Training Highlights

Women have historically been underrepresented in STEM fields, leading to a lack of research-based innovations, and hindered socio-economic growth. Commercialization is crucial for researchers to bring their solutions to the market. The R2C program, in partnership with the Mawazo Institute, aims to address the underrepresentation of women in STEM fields by training 15 female researchers on key commercialization topics.

We had the pleasure of working with a diverse group of participants who brought a wide range of innovative ideas to the table. Some of these ideas included: Research on nutrition, plant-based foods, healthy snack options, and dried products as alternatives, focusing on legumes and cereals. Developing lion-tracking solutions in Tsavo to address human-lion conflict. We also had participants working on pest control using bacteria and growing innovative pesticides, the link between cancer and food fortification, using molecular biology to develop resistant sweet potatoes and on value addition for cassava. Waste management and addressing the shortage of fertilizer feed.

Last week we had an intensive week of training with selected participants to equip them with the skills necessary to develop plausible commercialization strategies, raise funds, establish market linkages, and ultimately commercialize their research innovations.

Some of the content covered during the training include The journey of an innovator, tools and techniques, mindset shift, lean methodology and business model overview, impact measurement, understanding intellectual property, critical success factors for running a technology transfer office, mapping investors and networking, deep diving into impact and grants funding, valuation, strategic partnerships, marketing, gender equality and social inclusion, accounting, and elevator pitches.

The innovator’s journey begins with a mindset shift from a fixed to a growth mindset. Researchers must not only consider their valuable research for publications but also focus mainly on commercializing their innovations. Lean methodology and business model overview are essential in developing and testing business models quickly and efficiently. The desired outcome of this session is to enable researchers to validate their innovations with customers and launch successful startups.

As an innovator, your journey will be filled with challenges and opportunities. Tools and techniques are essential to hone your skills and equip you with what you need to succeed. Impact measurement is critical to ensure the program achieves its goals. Intellectual property (IP) monetization focused on extracting value from intellectual property assets, licensing, and value that can be generated by a startup or established company.

The participants also got to delve into mapping investors and networking, which is essential in securing funding. Valuation is critical in determining the worth of an innovation/business. The session focused on the valuation process and different techniques. The session gave practical advice on the dos and don’ts while valuing innovation/business. Strategic partnerships are essential in forging valuable and effective partnerships. Identifying a partner, engaging a partner, negotiating an agreement, contracting, and making the partnership work for you are critical.

A marketing session was also essential to aid the participants in identifying the right social media channels for their innovation, creating engaging content, and learning how to track and measure the impact of marketing efforts on social media and stay up to date with the latest trends and best practices.

Gender equality and social inclusion (GESI) are critical in the research to commercialization context. The focus was guiding the researchers in addressing the internal and external aspects of GESI. Overall, interventions with a strong GESI lens are equitable and sustainable. They promote resilient and cohesive communities. The participants also had an opportunity to pitch their researchers, learn how to effectively communicate their innovations to investors and potential funders and fine-tune their elevator pitches based on the guidelines provided.

We’re proud to support these diverse projects and can’t wait to see their impact and future accomplishments in their respective fields.