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Students of the partner HEIs participate in PBL projects/ challenges designed together with local companies in the bio-economy sector. In the projects, students solve real business challenges in international teams; the assignments include e.g. finding sustainable business opportunities through utilizing agricultural waste as raw materials. Close collaboration between education and working life leads to a generation of graduates with the abilities to innovatively address the challenges of the 21st century.

Water Hyacinth project explaining Student Challenge (location; Kenya)

Staff feedback

“Mentoring students’ challenges  changed my attitude towards teaching. I used to see teaching as difficult, which is not the case.”

Industry Partner Feedback


"From this project, I learned things like how to prevent my crops from diseases, how to cope with the weather and how I can be able to market my things well in order to improve my living standards.”



ZAMBIA: MPIMA Cooporative Challenge

Mpima Dairy Cooperative appears to be disintegrating due to lack of member support with some members positioning themselves as lead entrepreneurs at different value chain nodes. Some are positioning themselves as lead farmers, others still as lead processors, and other still as dip tank entrepreneurs. However, no lead entrepreneur is emerging as a feed supplier. Thus, cooperative assets are deficient of viable procurement supplies of milk leading to idle processing functions.


Value chain interrogation and problem identification

Students will need to be divided into three main groups to analyse the entire value chain by looking at input supply, farm production and cooperative processing problems responsible for the low patronage which was high at some point in time and identify the underlying problems of the value chain participants.


Solution development and Implementation

The students will develop different possible solutions to the current cooperative problems, and zero in on one cost effective solution given the circumstance and time and implement the identified solution with willing  value chain participants.



Water Hyacinth Challenge in Kenya 

The overall project objective of the student challenge is to examine the utilization of water hyacinth and its value chains. It will be implemented in collaboration with Egerton University, Häme University of Applied Sciences, ADRA Finland Foundation and Community Initiative for Development (COMID) in Homa Bay County, Kenya. The accumulated understanding on eradication and utilization of water hyacinth can be summarized that, the only viable way to keep water hyacinth in control is large scale usage of the biomass. Water hyacinth is difficult if not impossible to destroy. Massive use of water hyacinth biomass with practical, sustainable, and cost-effective approach is needed. If water hyacinth is to be used in the community level, the utilization has to be simple and low-technology-based.

The project intends to:

  • Study the value chains from water hyacinth biomass to final products and identify the main players involved

  • Analyse different options for utilization of water hyacinth: biogas, bioethanol, pelleting/briquetting

Liquid Biofuel Challenge in Kenya

Bio-Ethanol provides an alternative source of a sustainable cooking fuel but it has low awareness, is only available in select geographies via early-stage enterprises, and is relatively high-cost relative to cooking fuel alternatives like charcoal and kerosene. Moreover, the feasibility of bio-ethanol is emphasized by the availability of invasive plant species in Kenya such as water hyacinth that can be used to increase production and affordability of the biofuel. Hence, this project intends to:

  1. Increase awareness of Bio-Ethanol as a feasible and sustainable source of cooking fuel

  2. Increase availability and affordability of Bio-Ethanol through;

  • Promoting production of Bio-Ethanol by use of invasive species such as water hyacinth

  • Promote the development, production and distribution of affordable Bio-Ethanol cooking stove

  • Promote the control of invasive plant species by permaculture through production of bio-fuels

Business development of precooked beans in Zambia & the regional market

At as low as a fifth of the price of animal protein sources, legumes are critical to the food security of Zambia and its neighbors. Beans are also important for the income generation of subsistence farmers and are a major contributor to the “economies” of many rural communities. If paired with a steady raw demand for product and stable markets, farmers would have the ability to contribute further and improve the livelihoods for many in their areas. The consumption of beans in Zambia has had one significant problem faced by consumers: the long cooking time. Unpressurised cooking of dry beans typically takes three hours.


The overall project objective of the student challenge is to develop a business model for the precooked beans market in Zambia and the region (Common market for East and Southern Africa and the Southern Africa Development Community). The student challenge will be hosted by the University of Zambia in collaboration with Egerton University (Kenya) Gulu University (Uganda) and Aalto University (Finland) together with the industry partner Trinity Super Nutrition.

The project intends to: determine the potential market for the innovated pre-cooked beans with the view of understanding the extent and segments of the market for this product and best way to penetrate these markets locally and regional for this product.

Staff feedback



Sustainable pesticide use

Students explore the production and usage of organic fertilisers with Real IPM, Kenya, as the client company. Through this project, students will learn the value of their own professional field to the context of climate change. Students will also develop their abilities to apply sustainability practices and knowledge in their future working life.

Innovations and productivity in agriculture

Students in Uganda investigate the sustainability of banana farming with Ankole Banana Farmers’ Cooperative; improve calf health in Mbarara; find links between bio-organic farming and youth employment with iSOFT; and increase innovation adoption among farmers through peer-to-peer dissemination.

Integrating sustainable bioeconomy to a community-based approach

Students identify vulnerable groups and their needs, co-develop protection plans and improve food security and inclusive prosperity in Kenya, Zambia and Uganda.

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Annual report 2020–2021 (PDF)

Brochure (PDF)

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