Bioscience Innovation Bootcamp SM

BioInnovate Africa is a regional science and innovation-driven initiative, supported by Sida and implemented as a programme of the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (icipe). It operates in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Uganda. We also collaborate with partners in South Sudan.

BioInnovate Africa enables scientists in Eastern Africa to develop and translate innovative bioscience research ideas, technologies and inventions into practical uses in society, which promote economic growth, create jobs, and reduce poverty. Thus, BioInnovate Africa fosters the development of a sustainable bioeconomy in the region by strengthening the capacity of scientists and institutions to link innovative ideas from the bench to business.

As part of the initiative, a 5-day bioscience innovation bootcamp has been organized for entrepreneurial scientists in eastern Africa to empower them to develop innovative and commercially viable biological-based ideas in areas including but not limited to;

Who is eligible to apply?

This call shall be limited to citizens and/or nationals of the seven (7) BioInnovate Africa participating countries attached to a university, research institution, private company, or other related organization (either as an employee or student).

How you will benefit

Selection criteria

How to apply

Applicants are invited to submit the following as part of their application:

All applications will be uploaded through the online portal

Application deadline

The deadline for receiving applications is 5th October 2020 at 23:59hrs Nairobi Time. Late submissions will be disqualified.

Next Steps

Successful teams will be notified through email by 9th October 2020 Selected teams are expected to participate in the bootcamp for five days on 17-21 October 2020.

The teams will pitch their innovative ideas during the 1st Regional Bioeconomy Conference to be held on 22 October 2020.

For more information about the call, please contact:
Villgro Kenya
Email: [email protected]
BioInnovate Africa Programme Management Office (PMO)
Email: [email protected]

 Download the Bioscience Innovation Bootcamp Call for Applications


The Innovators Forum held on 28th February 2020 at the 7th Sankalp Africa Summit drew participants from Academia, policymakers, R&D funders, regulators, investors and entrepreneurs under the theme Harnessing the 4th Industrial Revolution (Hardware Innovations) to drive UHC in Africa.

The session hosted by Villgro Kenya focused on building a vibrant community and ecosystem for medical devices and diagnostics innovation and manufacturing in the region.

Fadhili Chacha CEO & founder Enzi Health (an on demand health service) and Stephen Tashobya CEO & Founder Wekebere (a prenatal diagnostic device) shared their innovation journey and how various partners helped move them to the next level to scale.

Participants were then encouraged and facilitated to reflect on their needs/goals, identify partnership opportunities that are immediately actionable and to network and pitch these opportunities.

The general consensus from the forum was that if we are to achieve UHC in Africa, we have to assess the immense potential the 4th Industrial Revolution has to drive it home and embrace partnerships as an avenue to accelerate our progress.

Villgro Kenya will host the first Innovators Forum under the theme - Harnessing the 4th Industrial Revolution(Hardware Innovations) to drive UHC in Africa on 28th February 2020 from 1.30 pm - 3.00 pm.

The multisectoral event which will take place during the 7th Sankalp Africa Summit will bring together innovators, investors, enablers, entrepreneurs, health program administrators, policymakers and health innovation experts in the industrialization, science and technology space with the aim of learning the activities, objectives, and goals of each health innovation stakeholder and using the information to catalyze linkages and partnerships.

The key objectives of the event are to

  1. Build a community of innovation practitioners
  2. Facilitate coordinated ecosystem interventions
  3. To champion for hardware innovations

As a stakeholder within the innovation ecosystem in East Africa, we believe if we are to achieve UHC in Africa, we have to assess the immense potential the 4th Industrial Revolution has to drive it home. Innovative hardware devices hold the power to provide quality, affordable and accessible healthcare services to those who need it most when they need it. Innovators need to work with other stakeholders with common or complementary interests in order to scale and ultimately provide quality, affordable and accessible healthcare for those who need it, when they need it.

Villgro Kenya CEO shares why it is important to have this conversation now and what to expect from the Innovators Forum.

Villgro Kenya aims to impact not only innovative health start-ups but also grow the ecosystem in terms of growth in investments. In the second part of an interview with Paul Belknap, we gain insights on the need for more homegrown angel investments to catapult innovations within the ecosystem.

90% of capital injected into startups in East Africa comes from the West. While we have successful entrepreneurs within our borders they are wary to invest in start-ups and instead choose to invest in other sectors like real estate. This is majorly due to the lack of strong regulatory measures, unpredictable timelines and their traditional understanding of investment which makes investing in the innovations seem like throwing money into a hole.

Undoubtedly Kenya has been named as a frontier for innovations in Africa however, we still need to do more to show homegrown investors the value the world sees in innovation and convince them to put more money in the ecosystem to move the innovations to the next stage.

Q: Villgro Kenya has contributed to the health innovation ecosystem largely through its investments into early-stage companies and incubation programs. However, there is a gap in funding startups to scale, what can be done to mitigate this?

P: We can’t solve this problem by ourselves but one of the things that we saw in India was that there were so many more complementary sources of funding available for early-stage entrepreneurs. Government grants, angel investors and other grant funding/more investors with an early stage appetite, we need more of that.

One of the things Villgro Kenya has identified that we need to be able to fund startups to a greater extent in their journey than we needed to in India because there is a lack of complementary funding. On the order of $150k would help those companies move to the plate where they would start to match up with some of the investors that are more active in the ecosystem, some would come in the form of co-investment with early-stage investors as well.

Increasing our ability to fund companies and invest in companies is important but we can’t do it all by ourselves. If you look at things that Kenya & Uganda needs to work on, the government can play a role in terms of doing investments/grants into early-stage companies.

I don’t know that any government is great at investing in early-stage companies. The more successful ones have done a funds approach where they are allocated a set of resources and they pick management to do those investments for them.

There is a real need for more angel investment into startups in the ecosystem. Angel investment or the same individuals can consider investing in funds interested in tackling the pre-seed stage of funding under $150k- 500k.

I've talked to a few people who are frustrated with investors seeing real estate as the safe bet. Getting people excited into investing in entrepreneurship particularly the health sector seems to be lagging which is contributed by the fact that there have been very few successes in the health sector making people more cautious in investing into it.