The Main Activities
This education-to-business partnership development for a knowledge-based economy is receiving increased attention in Rwanda. The first step to reach this promising goal is to create a collaborative mind-set within HEIs and support collaborations within the whole of the agricultural sector. This implies that government, education institutions and business join forces towards practical education and knowledge building serving as the stepping stone towards a knowledge-based economy. However, as it is new to the involved parties, a continuous cycle of learning, adapting and improving will pave the road towards the ultimate goal of a more knowledge-based economy in Rwanda.
Based on studies, round table meetings and workshops, parties were invited to send in a concept note for the establishment of a STIC. Shortlisted applicants were asked to further elaborate their proposition in a full proposal from which five STIC partnerships were selected to start working towards a commercial operation date and their implementation of project activities. The five STICs currently are procuring their hardware through the SEAD/STIC hardware fund that amounts to €2.5mln, averaging €0.5mln per STIC. Besides these funds, the STIC partner have brought in co-funding, among other through availing the plot for the venue, technical staff and management & coordination.
A Case Study: Centre for Dairy Training, Research and Business | UR-CAVM, IPRC Musanze & Alpha Milk Company Ltd.
This STIC is a centre for integrated dairy technologies, whereby private company -Alpha Milk Company Ltd (AMC)- collaborates with the University of Rwanda (UR) and Integrated Polytechnic College in Musanze (IPRC Musanze) to develop ghee and fruit yoghurt. AMC currently produces fresh milk, fermented milk and cheese and with the support of Nuffic, the partners are able to obtain processing equipment to diversify their product portfolio. The partners see this as a good business opportunity as milk production in Rwanda is expected to increase while, due to poor logistics and processing capacity, currently a lot of milk is spilled.
Secondly, the partners see an increase in the demand for flavoured yoghurt and ghee. With the knowledge of the education institutions and the business sense of the private company, the partners feel they can complement each other and run a viable business. Simultaneously, students can learn first-hand how to apply the skills they learned in the classroom while lecturers can use the facilities to enrich their lecturing practices as well as to conduct research. The partnership is therefore expected to provide a learning environment for students to gain practical skills relevant for future employers and stimulate research & innovation and entrepreneurship while addressing challenges in agricultural value chains.
A Case Study: Agro-tourism STIC | IPRC Karongi & Holland Greentech Rwanda Ltd.
The aim of the agro-tourism STIC is to link agriculture and tourism (agritourism) and improving practical education and research in both sectors. The STIC will comprise of an agritourism demonstration centre where horticulture produce is grown and sold, tourists can stay overnight on an island and consume off-farm produce in the restaurant. The STIC offers tourist visits to nearby farms and tourist attractions and an opportunity to work on farm. Agritourism is an innovative agricultural activity and has the capacity to create additional source of income and employment to the farmers and provide them with practical knowledge on how to benefit from the growing tourism sector in Karongi.
The STIC partnerships have entered a new phase where the focus shifts from ideation, partnership and proposal development to procurement of hardware and implementation. In terms of procurement, the tender packages are being finalized after which quotations will be requested and, based on procurement criteria and in consultation with the STICs, a supplier is chosen. In terms of partnership building the focus shifts to managing and maintaining the partnership. In the past two years the partners have started understanding what it means to partner, have made the case internally and to each other for partnering, have scoped the possibilities, have built relationships and have outlined their future work in a business case, project proposal and partnership agreement.