Date: 31 July 2023By

Fraunhofer for Development (F4D)-Match bears fruit 6 years after initial contact

When it comes to embarking on new research projects, securing funding is often the foremost concern for researchers. The conventional approach suggests identifying calls for proposals before approaching potential partners for collaboration. While this method has its merits, there is an alternative path that has recently proven to be equally successful.

Imagine focusing on the essence of your idea and cultivating a potential partnership before worrying about funding. It may sound unconventional, but sometimes, the best results emerge when passionate minds unite in pursuit of a shared vision. One of the latest success stories in international collaboration facilitated by WAITRO precisely exemplifies this approach – another success case from the F4D – Fraunhofer for Development program, Fraunhofer’s analog pilot of WAITRO’s digital matchmaking platform SAIRA.

During the F4D pilot phase in 2016/17, WAITRO members were invited to present their project ideas or local challenges. The primary objective was to match these researchers with potential partners at Fraunhofer in Germany, renowned for their cutting-edge research and development expertise. Among the participants was the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), a WAITRO member organization dedicated to driving innovation and industrial growth in the region. Fraunhofer ISE, intrigued by KIRDI’s project idea, responded with genuine interest in exploring the possibilities of collaboration.

Rather than focusing solely on funding at the outset, both institutions chose to invest their efforts in nurturing their partnership and refining their project concept. It was a bold decision that required trust, commitment, and a shared vision for what they could achieve together. This dedication to their idea laid the foundation for a strong and enduring partnership. As they stayed in touch, something extraordinary began to happen.

By keeping their focus on the quality of their collaboration and the impact of their idea, they ultimately succeeded in securing funding of the German Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE) for their project. Six years after their initial contact, this German-Kenyan collaboration stands as a shining example of how a steadfast focus on the idea and the partnership itself can lead to significant outcomes. Today, their joint project has made strides in addressing local challenges and fostering innovation.

Solar-Powered Ice Production and Solar Drying

Harnessing the power of solar thermal and photovoltaic energy, the SolCoolDry system generates essential drying heat and produces ice. Why is this so crucial? Many rural areas in Africa lack reliable electricity, leaving fishermen and farmers struggling to preserve or refrigerate their precious products. The consequence? A significant loss of income and a threat to food security, with up to 30 percent of food spoiling during transportation to the market. The good news? The SolCoolDry plant has now been successfully handed over to local partners in Mwazaro, southern Kenya.

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The SolCoolDry system consists of two tunnel dryers and a photovoltaic system as well as the ice machine. ©Fraunhofer ISE

Inauguration of the drying plant for vegetables, fruits and fish. ©Fraunhofer ISE

Inauguration of the drying plant for vegetables, fruits and fish. ©Fraunhofer ISE

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Fishermen are getting ice for cooling their catch. ©Fraunhofer ISE

As we celebrate this success story, let it serve as a reminder that innovation knows no boundaries. When minds from different corners of the globe unite, incredible things can happen. The German-Kenyan collaboration stands as a testament to the power of persistence, the importance of nurturing partnerships, and the potential of focusing on ideas first, trusting that funding will follow.

Let us continue to explore new frontiers of collaboration. SAIRA can pave the way to a brighter and more interconnected future.

Categories: Articles, General, NewsTags: , , ,

About the Author: Dominik Reinertz

waitro team dominik reinertz
Dominik holds the position of Director at the WAITRO Office in Germany, which is located within the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. His responsibilities encompass overseeing various WAITRO programs and services. In 2019, he took the initiative to create SAIRA, facilitating global connections between researchers and innovators.

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