Business Incubation Center (BIC)The focus of Business Incubation Center BIC is to provide a framework for up-scaling and commercializing social and scientific innovations at Ndejje University. These innovations are mainly in the following Research and Development Centers
1) Environment, Agriculture and Forestry Research and Development Center (EAFRDC);
2) Energy Research and Development Center (ERDC);
3) Water Research and Development Center (WRDC).
Ndejje aims at promoting Green enterprises based on Resource Recovery and Reuse (RRR) along the Food, Energy, Water and Eco-system (FEWE) nexus. The Green Enterprises are expected to promote environmentally sustainable development anchored on green economies. At the center of the green enterprises is the concept of the Circular economy which encompasses RRR.
Given that public sector agencies (local government, central government, ministries) are constrained financially to deliver core services to needy communities, gaps in service delivery are presumably bridged by RRR. Conceptually RRR relies on stakeholder engagement which leverages private capital to achieve commercial and social value. Incentives for stakeholder engagement in green enterprises rotate around real/potential demands for the products of RRR.
These products include; bio-fuels (biogas, briquettes), organic fertilizers, biocides and disinfectants; and animal feeds/nutrients. The propagation of the ‘Circular Economy’ is a transition;
a) from the traditional social-welfare costing (met by public funds) to private sector financing (based on revenue generation);
b) from social-benefit accounting to cost-saving and cost recovery);
c) from bio-waste collection/treatment and disposal towards processing and commodification;
d) from single-agency projects to innovative partnership that target scalability and sustainability.
RRR calls for investment in market research and in bankable business models for cost recovery. The success of Green innovations depends on viable business plans that could optimize recycling and reuse market. It also thrives on creative financing mechanism that avail start-up and scale-up capital to individuals/groups that need support. Currently in Uganda, the growth of Green economies is constrained by;
i) inadequate public awareness of ‘green’ values and opportunities;
ii) Public perceptions that do not favour waste reuse;
iii) unsupportive policies, regulations and financing structures;
iv) absence of well-designed partnership and inter-sectoral frameworks.
Promoting APPP is one of the innovative pathways adopted by Ndejje University to ensure that financial, human and technical resources of key stakeholders converge to support green economies. It is presumed that socioeconomic incentives (based on business models) coupled with appropriate institutional frameworks are key in attracting key stakeholders towards Green enterprises.
The other key component is capacity building for stakeholders through training and creative financing models. Presumably, savings accrued from RRR can finance small and medium enterprises. For instance, cities and municipalities in Uganda currently spend over 40% of their budgets to collect only about 30-40% of the waste generated. RRR could reduce the expenditure and the savings could be re-invested in financing SMEs.
In this way, the ‘Circular Economy’ transforms challenges and vulnerabilities into opportunities for business, Jobs and livelihoods. At the same time, it supplements efforts of the public sector as it struggles to bridge service delivery gaps. It calls for demonstration of scalable innovations as a value proposition to stimulate business thinking in the interface of food, energy, water and eco-systems.
One of the central pillars of training is the enhancement of synergies and multi-disciplinary integration in schools, colleges, universities and research agencies. A number of scalable innovations have been piloted successfully by Ndejje University, awaiting implementation, replication and upscaling. Why bother with green economies? The growing population generates increased demand for food, water, energy, space (accommodation) and jobs. Attempts to satisfy the demands generate multiple vulnerabilities arising from reclamation of wetlands and forests for farming and accommodation, depletion of soil nutrients, use of chemical fertilizers, biocides and disinfectants, energy poverty/deforestation, poor sanitation in high-density urban areas, pollution (of land, water and air), unemployment and poverty. Ndejje University partners with public and private sector agencies to promote resilience to these challenges and vulnerabilities.
Among other things, the Business Incubation Center plays the following roles in the development of social and technological innovations.
a. Demonstrate profitability of Green innovations.
b. Provide structures for reliable livelihood options at grassroots levels
c. Propose appropriate economic instruments
d. Conduct feasibility studies for green innovations
e. Determine cost-effectiveness and financial sustainability of projects
f. Develop business and marketing structures for RRR products
g. Research into valuation of environmental resources.