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Industry-Universities Linkages

A study was conducted by LIWA into the status of university-industry-government linkages in Kenya. In developing countries, universities are under a demand to meet the developmental challenges of their societies. In Kenya, there is no available data on the extent of university-industry-government partnerships. This study by LIWA has provided relevant insights into existing partnerships, revealing challenges, opportunities and the way forward for these partners.


The following gaps represent challenges faced in strengthening linkages among stakeholders:

  • Lack of financial support for research and innovation, as well as for other outreach activities relevant for technology transfer;
  • Inadequate university research infrastructure, such as laboratories and equipment;
  • Lack of entrepreneurial skills and knowledge among academic staff;
  • Lack of or absence of established networks between universities and the private sector;
  • Secrecy within industry, which limits the sharing of intellectual property (IP) and IP licensing.


The challenges faced in strengthening and deepening the role of linkages do also present several opportunities for stakeholders. These include:

  • Establishing private sector-led employment and sector boards at county level, resulting in employers getting involved in formulating training priorities at universities;
  • Developing employability skills within universities by operationalizing employability skills training in their curriculum delivery, with a focus on personal skills attitudes and behaviors needed to succeed in the workplace;
  • Offering joint graduate programs;
  • Upgrading universities from teaching to entrepreneurial universities;
  • Setting up and increasing technologies in universities.

Where are we now?

The three emerging functions of universities in Kenya are:

  • Training and educating human capital, e.g. undergraduates, graduates and postdocs;
  • Accessing specialized services, e.g. problem solving and providing public space;
  • Increasing the stock of knowledge, e.g. via publications, prototypes and patents.

The study also found the main activities that were being done at the sampled universities included:

  • Informal interaction with industry
  • Research and development
  • Research services
  • Academic entrepreneurship
  • Activities such as shared infrastructure and commercialization of intellectual property were the least carried out.

What needs to be done?

Based on the findings of the study, the following recommendations were made as an agenda for change and scaling up University-Industry-Government linkages in Kenya:

Government to:

  • Encourage the expansion of higher education and the supply of graduates to meet the rising demand for highly knowledge-intensive skills;
  • Support high quality supply of STEM skills with a bias toward the four productive growth sectors;
  • Support those out of work and those with low qualifications into employment opportunities.

Universities to:

  • Prioritize sectoral strengths in the local economy and specialize in the delivery of economically valuable skills relevant to these sectors.
  • Seek opportunities to work with local employers offering students valuable work experience, and likewise, a supply of skilled labour for such companies;
  • Continue to build generic "employability" skills into the education system in collaboration with employers.

Industry to:

  • Collaborate with local education and training providers to foster pathways for local people into work;
  • Private sector employers must play an active role in shaping the skills system by participating in course programme review and development process, and invest more in workplace training.

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