AU-EU Innovation Agenda Stakeholder Event, Nairobi, Kenya

AU-EU Innovation Agenda Stakeholder Event, Nairobi, Kenya

The joint AU-EU Innovation Agenda is an unprecedented initiative aiming to accelerate the translation of Research and Innovation into a tangible positive impact on the ground, so to generate products, services, businesses and jobs, in Africa and Europe. It proposes four objectives, articulated into short-term, medium-term and long-term actions, for each of the four priority areas of the AU-EU cooperation in Science, Technology and Innovation [namely (i) Public Health, (ii) Green Transition, (iii) Capacities for Science and (iv) Innovation and Technology], as well as for (v) Cross-cutting issues.

Objectives of the Event

This Stakeholder Event aimed to provide a forum to:

  1. Present and discuss the findings of the online public consultation on the AU-EU Innovation Agenda (which took place between February and June 2022);
  2. Discuss specific stakeholder demands and ideas, and possible implementation routes for the Agenda, so as to co-create its implementation plan;
  3. Showcase the AU and EU vibrant innovation ecosystems in a matchmaking session entitled “AU-EU Innovation Fair – meet the innovators”, to catalyze partnerships and foster collaborations and entrepreneurship;
  4. Provide strategic training and information sessions on topics relevant to implementing the AU-EU Innovation Agenda.

Expected outcome

Feedback and input received during this Stakeholder Event will be taken into account in the preparation of the final version of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda, expected to be ready for the beginning of 2023, to be presented for adoption during the AU-EU Ministerial Meeting on Science, Technology and Innovation, to take place later on in 2023.

Other focus areas for the workshop include; Innovation Ecosystem, Innovation Management, Knowledge exchange including technology transfer, access to finance and human capacity development, as well as the translations of innovative capacities and achievements through SDG 8 (Decent Work and Growth), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure) and SDG 13 (Climate Change Impacts).

The first day of the event was a full day of plenary sessions that consisted of opening addresses, the overview of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda & Results of the Public Consultation, National Innovation Policies and link to the Innovation Policies and link to the Agenda as well as thematic workshops on the 4 priority areas of the Innovation Agenda.

Opening Addresses were focused on the global approach to innovation with specific areas on joint investments, market strategies, funding strategies, knowledge exchange and political structures. The Addresses were from;

  1. Ms. Maria Cristina Russo – Director for Global Approach and International Cooperation in R&I, European Commission
  2. Prof. Chomora Mikeka, HLPD Vice Co-Chair, Republic of Malawi
  3. Ambassador Simon Nabukwesi, Principal Secretary, State Department for University Education and Research, Ministry of Education, Kenya
  4. Ms. Irene Giribaldi, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Kenya
  5. Commissioner Mohammed Belhocine, African Union Commission
  6. Mr. Hans Stausboll, Acting Director Africa, DG International Partnerships, European Commission.

An overview of the AU-EU Innovation Agenda & Results of the Public Consultation from Mr. Lukovi Seke (AUDA-NEPAD) and Dr. Vincenzo Lorusso (European Commission). The Innovation Agenda has a background around key players: Civil Society Organizations, AU/EU Institutions, AU/EU Member States, Higher Education Institutions, Public/Private Research Institutions, Private Sector (Startups, MSMEs & Large Business Enterprises. The overview of findings was first the endorsement of the objectives and actions, the need and importance of collaborating inclusively across all sectors, and the need to enhance capacity in research infrastructure, training, funding and monitoring & evaluation. The inclusion of local communities, leveraging and protecting indigenous know-how, empowering youth, women and vulnerable groups (persons with disabilities) and the engagement of the African Diaspora were also emphasized.

The thematic workshops on Day 1 cut across the 4 priority areas to include;

  •   Investing in innovation in Africa,
  •   Innovation Ecosystems in Africa,
  •   Needs and Technologies for Healthy Societies with responsive and resilient health systems,
  •   Skills development and mobility e.t.c

 The AfriConEU team attended the workshop on Investing in Innovation in Africa and Gideon Brefo (hapaSpace) presented the AfriconEU project to include an emphasis on inclusion and diversity as we have more representation of women in the Consortium. His presentation covered two main questions: How can we implement the actions foreseen by the AU-EU Innovation Agenda in the thematic area of ‘Innovation and Technology? What are you or your organization doing or will you do to contribute to its implementation?

Our research in the four African ecosystems provides insights into the research part of the actions to implement the innovation agenda. He also spoke about three of the challenges identified; 1. limitations of current funding approaches 2. Expertise gaps among DIHs and 3. Challenges in building effective partnerships with government, corporates, and investors. Also, we could share the suggested solutions in our report with them.

How can we empower the contribution of women and youth in innovation?

Our workshops, webinars and masterclasses focus on youth and women. The leadership of the consortium is also predominantly women.

Finally, at this workshop, Peace Odili (ECA) spoke about how the AfriConEU project supports grassroots innovators through its partners in Africa.

The second day included more training and information sessions on the following topics:

  •   Intellectual Rights;
  •   Preparing proposals for Horizon Europe and other funding programmes (e.g Erasmus+)
  •   Open Science and Data Science (e.g Africa Knowledge Platform)
  •   Africa Initiative in Horizon Europe
  •   EURAXESS Africa
  •   Erasmus+ in Africa
  •   Clustering/Partnership Management

The most interesting part of Day 2 was the Innovation which had over 20 startups pitching and with an exhibition stand for interested investors and potential partners to reach out. Most of the startups that pitched were under Enrich in Africa.

You can find more details about the event on our Twitter and the event’s website.