Halfway in, celebrating, learning, improving... the R2C journey so far!

During the past several months, we embarked on an incredible Research to Commercialization  (R2C) journey with a group of eight innovators looking to commercialize their innovations and fifteen participants in the Training of Trainers (ToT) program looking to take elements of the R2C program and push them to their institutions. Our participants represented a diverse range of backgrounds, including TVETs, research centers, and university centers.

The R2C program is strategically designed to facilitate the seamless transition of groundbreaking research concepts into successful commercial ventures. It serves as a platform for researchers, academics, and entrepreneurs to collaborate closely with industry partners and investors, with the goal of transforming innovative ideas into viable commercial products or services.

In parallel, the ToT participants underwent a comprehensive training program aimed at equipping them with the fundamental components and principles necessary for running an effective R2C (research-to-commercialization) initiative. This encompassed delivering engaging R2C training sessions within their respective institutions, as well as gaining a profound understanding of the crucial aspects of Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI). Additionally, participants delved into the essential aspects of evaluating and measuring the impact generated by R2C programs, recognizing their significance in driving sustainable growth and progress.

A few Facts of the program


54 hours 

of Training


6 connections    with feasible opportunities

R2C Accelerator - Cohort 1

R2C Cohort 1 Accelerator


54 hours 


36hours of coaching 

7 institutions     represented

11 speaker sessions from industry experts

Training of Trainers (ToT) Cohort 1


19 hours of training




Hours    of  coaching

Institutions represented

Expert Speaker sessions 

Early successes with room for further growth:

Effective Pitches: Initially, researchers struggled to communicate their innovations in non-technical terms. However, they have improved their ability to deliver compelling pitches and effectively convey the essence of their work to a broader audience.

Refined Business Models: Innovators made significant changes to their business models, including better defining target markets, value propositions, and even developing new products.

Valuable Connections: Engagements with 27 organizations, including funders, partners, and digital platforms, resulted in key connections for innovators. These connections included partnerships with Regen Organics/Sanergy, SunKing, Gearbox, and ICIPE, as well as potential collaborations with a similar project in Egypt.

Shared Funding Opportunities: Promising funding opportunities such as Eureka Global Stars, Energy Catalyst, and the Mastercard Innovation Fund were shared. Introductions and calls for applications were facilitated through partnerships with organizations like Business Finland, tuiFUND, and Assentian. Discussions are ongoing with potential funders, including climate finance and social inclusion financiers.

Institution Negotiations: Innovators initiated discussions with their institutions to negotiate IP licensing or buyout agreements. By the end of the program, all innovators were engaged in conversations about taking their IPs to market and determining their share of returns.

Business Formalization: Many innovators established entities to facilitate negotiations with their institutions, leading to the emergence of new names and logos for their innovations.

In summary, early achievements include improved pitching skills, refined business models, valuable connections, shared funding opportunities, institution negotiations, and formalized businesses. These successes set the stage for further progress and development in the program.

Training of Trainers

The dissemination of R2C (Research-to-Commercialization) principles through various Training of Trainers (ToT) initiatives has resulted in several successful outcomes. Here are a few notable examples:

·        A participant from the DeKUT Startup Centre collaborated with partners to organize a successful event for student innovators and entrepreneurs. The event aimed to foster a startup mindset and engage participants in the entire process of research-to-commercialization, from idea generation to delivering persuasive pitches. The event incorporated key elements from the R2C program, emphasizing its principles.

 ·        Viktoria Ventures delivered a public lecture at aSEKU University on turning research into commercial reality through partnerships. The lecture emphasized the value of commercializing research for higher education institutions in driving socio-economic growth. It highlighted the role and benefits of partnerships in the commercialization process, including:

o   Access to resources: Partnerships provide additional financial, technological, and expertise resources necessary to achieve commercialization objectives.

o   Knowledge and expertise exchange: Collaborating with industry partners, entrepreneurs, or other institutions offers insights into market trends, customer needs, and industry best practices. This helps align commercialization strategies with market demands and gain a competitive advantage.

o   Expanded network and market access: Partnerships enable institutions to tap into new markets and expand their customer base. By leveraging existing networks through collaborations with established businesses or cross-sector partnerships, institutions can reach potential customers, distributors, or licensing partners and accelerate commercialization.

o   Mitigation of risks: Partnering with like-minded organizations allows institutions to leverage each other’s strengths and work together to anticipate and mitigate risks. For example, collaborating with partners experienced in regulatory compliance, intellectual property management, or market entry helps navigate complex challenges and regulatory environments effectively.

o   Accelerated innovation and technology transfer: Collaborating with industry partners facilitates the translation of research findings into commercial products, services, or processes, thereby accelerating innovation and technology transfer.

o   Enhanced reputation: Partnerships and linkages provide opportunities to showcase research achievements and build a positive reputation for the institution. This increased reputation attracts investors, customers, and talented individuals, fostering a positive ecosystem for successful commercialization.

In summary, the dissemination efforts of R2C through the ToTs have resulted in successful events and lectures that promote a startup mindset, highlight the role of partnerships in commercialization, and emphasize the benefits of collaborations such as resource access, knowledge exchange, network expansion, risk mitigation, accelerated innovation, and enhanced reputation.

Lessons learnt

Key Lessons Learned from Phase One of the Project:

· To ensure a successful program, it is important to select participants who meet certain criteria, such as having registered their intellectual property, negotiated ownership with their university (indicating the presence of a startup policy), and registered a company for commercializing their innovation.

·  When working with researchers from institutions, it is crucial to assess their institutional preparedness from an R2C perspective. This includes evaluating the presence of a defined commercialization pathway and the availability of commercialization enablers such as startup policies and Technology Transfer Offices (TTOs).

·  Securing funding for innovators can be challenging, as many of them are not yet investor-ready. Some lack the necessary funds for prototyping, market assessment, marketing, and demonstrating the feasibility of their technology. As a result, achieving the desired commercialization and funding success may take longer than six months.

· Innovators require additional technical support to become prepared for investor engagements. This support includes facilitating intellectual property protection and business registration, assisting with financial modeling to support their funding needs, and providing guidance in pitch development to meet investor expectations.

· The participants of the Training of Trainers (TOT) program would benefit from further assistance in rolling out R2C programs at their institutions. This includes facilitating training sessions and delivering specific content to ensure comprehensive coverage of critical topics, thus empowering the TOT participants to deliver the R2C program confidently and effectively.

· Customization and supplementation of the R2C curriculum are necessary to ensure it aligns with the expectations of researchers and TOTs. Additional content should be incorporated to address specific needs and requirements.

· Considering the current state of the R2C ecosystem and the level of institutional preparedness, the success of the program is likely to be observed in the medium to long term rather than in the short term.

·There is significant demand for R2C programs, demonstrated by the consistent registration of an average of 50 participants for webinars and the increasing requests for R2C support from institutions like the National Research Fund and Technical University of Kenya. The program’s expansion to Ethiopia also indicates the growing interest in R2C initiatives.

We are excited about the upcoming Cohort Two and eagerly anticipate sharing further updates on the research-to-commercialization journey of the diverse innovators.