DTU Skylab FoodLab rising partnership with World Food Programme

UN World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa

Yet another collaboration between DTU Skylab FoodLab and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is established, adding to the portfolio of international partnerships, which DTU has forged in a brief period of time. Just two months prior, DTU Skylab Foodlab, the food systems change laboratory, joined forces with the WFP Centre of Excellence against Hunger Brazil. Now, WFP Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa has partnered with DTU Skyæab FoodLab along with the Hult Prize Foundation and the Ministry of Danish Affairs to launch the first NextGen East African Innovators Programme.

This brand new programme aims to support student innovators from East Africa in developing solutions that use food as a vehicle for change. DTU Skylab FoodLab will play a core role in coordinating the partnership.

“In a region where the median age is below 19 years, and where funding for local startups often is bypassed by foreign initiatives, WFP and partners will help nurture the next generation of East African entrepreneurs”, said Roberto Flore, head of DTU Skylab FoodLab.

Exchanging innovative ideas and solutions

WFP Innovation Hub for East Africa just concluded a pitch event of the first WFP NextGen Innovators Programme in March 2021, where nine teams of student innovators from Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda participated and worked with experts to improve their skills in areas such as value proposition, sustainable business development, pitching and fine-tuning their venture concepts.

The four winning teams from the pitch event will join DTU Skylab later this year to further develop prototypes and connect with our community of students and scientists and entrepreneurs. The teams are from Ethiopia, Uganda and two from Kenya. One of the Kenyan teams is made up of refugees based in Kakuma, who are originally from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Participants in the NextGen Innovators Programme will receive virtual mentoring and take part in inspirational lectures in preparation for a month-long trip to DTU in Denmark focusing on intensive prototyping and research. When they return home, they will continue to interact with DTU staff virtually and exchange ideas with DTU Skylab FoodLab students. They will also be able to connect with Skylab experts and DTU’s strong global network of innovators and entrepreneurs. DTU National Food Institute will also be a partner in the activities and will provide scientific support and access to facilities during the programme.

"I believe that this collaboration will provide the participants of NextGen with the possibility of living a full DTU experience and bringing back to their regions relevant knowledge that can be shared with other team members and among other fellow innovators,” says Roberto Flore.

“This is also a fantastic opportunity for the DTU Skylab FoodLab community to connect and exchange ideas with a group of bright innovators such as the participants of the NextGen East African Innovators Programme. I believe this kind of interaction will immensely enrich our DTU students,” Flore adds.

The teams that will be visiting DTU are:

Tripple P (Kenya)

A social enterprise dedicated to providing eco-friendly and affordable fertilizer and feed made
from soldier fly larvae.

"WFP Next Gen Innovators brings together the greatest innovators in the region. We are humbled to have won in a pool of such incredible talent. We are also very excited and can't wait for the start of a hopefully long relationship with DTU Skylab FoodLab and the continuation of the relationship with the WFP Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa, says Gloria Cherono (Team lead), Kenyatta University

AgriOT (Uganda)

An AI-Based greenhouse system using Internet of Things technology capable of delivering quality produce by controlling unpredictable weather conditions to ensure sufficient and consistent food production throughout the year.

"Winning is not just about being the first. It’s about working harder every day, building one another and constantly improving ourselves to be better than the day before, and being part of WFP innovation hub helped us achieve these goals. It has been an awesome experience interacting with other participants and hope we can inspire other innovators to join the hub to help improve their ideas and transform their communities and Africa as a whole", says Derrick Locha, Makerere University.

FaBarley Project (Ethiopia)

Developing wholesome nutritious food products from fava bean and barley to alleviate child malnutrition and improper dietary practices.

"We are exhilarated upon hearing our victory in this competition. We have gained more knowledge and are extremely proud to be a part of this amazing programme. We believe that winning this amazing competition doesn't mean we are perfect, but means we need to work harder, and strive to achieve more. We'd like to thank WFP Next Gen innovators for giving us a chance to show how dedicated and strong we are. We can't wait to start a long-lasting relationship with DTU Skylab FoodLab and achieve more", Mussie Abraham Alemayehu, Addis Ababa University.

Fishing in the Desert Project (Kakuma)

This project aims to solve malnutrition in Kakuma refugee camp by establishment of fishponds to farm tilapia and catfish.

“We are extremely grateful to WFP and DTU. Through the NextGen Innovators Programme, we got the opportunity to polish our business model. We studied the needs of the refugees living in Kakuma Refugee Camp which helped us figure out better ways to address them. With the knowledge acquired, we look forward to producing more food - especially fish - in the semiarid Kakuma Refugee Camp and other places", says Glory Lukambo Luundo.

About the World Food Programme:

The World Food Programme (WFP), 2020 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is the United Nations agency that leads the global fight against hunger. Its main mandate is to provide emergency assistance and develop sustainable solutions to fight hunger and poverty, in countries with the highest rates of poverty and food insecurity in the world.

About NextGen East African Innovators Programme:

Nine teams of student innovators from Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda and Rwanda were selected out of 156 applicants to participate in a virtual bootcamp to further develop their concepts, which culminating in a pitch competition in March 2021. Four winning teams from the pitch are selected to take part in a part-virtual, part-in-person programme with the DTU Skylab FoodLab.

Next Generation East African Innovators Program is a partnership between The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Innovation Hub for Eastern Africa, DTU, the Hult Prize Foundation and the Ministry of Danish Affairs.

Press release: https://www.wfp.org/news/winners-nextgen-east-african-innovator-programme