Place-Based Innovation in action: a Snapshot of 2022-2023

Focusing on ‘place’ has been a key strategic priority for the UK government as part of its recent ‘levelling up’ agenda to spread opportunity more equally across the UK. The Global Alliance Africa project has adopted the place-based innovation (PBI) approach in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to pilot activities across three ‘secondary’ ecosystems with significant potential for transformation and growth.

Posted on: 18/09/2023


This case study provides a snapshot of what the last year of PBI looked like on the ground, as we navigated and better understood the Local Innovation Networks (LIN). In many respects, it was a year of building trust, visibility and connections, while laying the foundations for future bilateral partnership opportunities.

The Aim

Place-Based Innovation (PBI) aims to leverages UK and pan-African expertise, networks and resources in order to build capacity for local innovation ecosystem players to drive forwards stronger, more sustainable and more inclusive local ecosystems.

The Solution

Across each of the three countries, activities were put in place in order to accelerate discussions, collaboration and innovation.

Eldoret, Kenya

1. Market access, production and value addition for the AgriFood sector identified as a priority area for activities.

2. Solar thermal drying technology pilot project being explored between UK-based Enso Impact and local Eldoret stakeholders, with organisations such as Gavo Foods. The pilot hopes to explore the socio-economic impact that drying technology can have on the value addition ecosystem in Eldoret.

3. Scoping the adaptation and piloting of a blockchain based food traceability application – AgriTrack – designed by UK- based Assentian and partnering with a local Eldoret stakeholder PlusFarm. The pilot is aiming to digitalise food traceability to ensure transparency and compliance across agriculture value chains thereby increasing access to global markets.

Ekiti State, Nigeria

1. Aquaculture identified as a key area of focus. The PBI Advisory Group and Global Alliance Africa hosted an Aquaculture International Knowledge Exchange event in Ekiti to guide the direction of activities going forward, with a particular focus on alternative food proteins for fish feed. The project is collaborating with UK-based FlyBox to investigate alternative protein opportunities.

2. The Advisory Group invested in creating an ecosystem map which was launched earlier in 2023 called Innovate Ekiti. The purpose of the map is to provide the innovation network actors with increased access to information, collaboration and investment opportunities.

3. An open call for youth innovators was launched to help find, support and celebrate young people with great business ideas. This initiative is aligned with Innovate UK’s commitment to drive positive change by investing in young people with big environmental, societal, and economic ambitions.

Guateng, South Africa

1. Reducing fragmentation, increasing SMME support, increasing support to women and youth and improving access to investment identified as priority areas by the Advisory Group.

2. A roundtable on sharing knowledge and insights was facilitated between Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and UK stakeholders, which culminated in the launch of the Facilitating Access to Investment report.

3. #MoreThanAWoman campaign was launched focusing on supporting eight female township focused entrepreneurs with bespoke support. Two £4,000 awards were given as part of the flagship #MoreThanAWoman event on International Women’s Day for Best Pitch and Best Township Innovation.

4. A local SMME, BoombaDotMobi, began a shared waste management pilot in the Diepsloot township through a collaborative support model that involves Wot-if? Trust, Africa Tikkun, A Game Business and Innovate UK KTN. The model has brought together services providers that address specific needs of the township innovative SMME.

The road ahead

In the coming year, the intervention will build on the momentum that has been created within each location, testing and gathering evidence to demonstrate the impact of the PBI model in helping to realise the innovation potential that can lead to economic development in each context. Existing partnerships will be supported and developed further so as to demonstrate the value and impact of a localisation agenda by gaining insights, exploring opportunities and building relationships locally, bilaterally and globally.

As PBI activities progress across the three countries, the resulting outcomes will continue to align with the UK’s International Development objectives which focus on supporting vibrant sustainable ecosystems that enable innovation to flourish and scale (at the local, national and international level), contributing to inclusive growth and shared prosperity.

We are excited to see what the coming year brings as we continue the important work that has been set in motion, and we start to see, and grow, its impact.

– Emmy Chirchir – Science Technology and Innovation (ST&I) Advisor and Cluster Lead, East Africa Research and Innovation Hub

About Global Alliance Africa

The Global Alliance Africa project is a six-year project funded by UK International Development through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

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