Private sector teams up with students to develop solutions for future challenges and tap into potential opportunities
In today’s ever-changing, complex and global environment, only those companies who are prepared for future trends and market demands will flourish. Organisations can gain an understanding of tomorrow through the lens of young people and develop business scenarios accordingly.
In Zambia, the AGS ‒ the Accelerated Growth for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) Programme ‒ funded by the Government of Finland, has launched an initiative bringing together a cohort of 60 students from around the world together with 15 Zambian and 2 Finnish SMEs looking to seize potential opportunities or address societal challenges. The AGS Co-Creation Initiative is a joint collaboration with Demola Global, an international future foresight platform, and BongoHive, a Lusaka-based innovation and technology hub.
I am delighted to see Zambia and Finland work together to promote industry-academia collaboration on innovation. For long-term competitiveness, and for a truly vibrant and sustainable private sector, it is important to bring together companies and the next generation experts to jointly identify future opportunities, challenges and solutions.
Finnish Ambassador to Zambia Pirjo Suomela-Chowdhury
Partnering with students as a “new generation of experts”, the participating companies can do a deep dive into scenarios that deal with changing and developing digital services, data-driven and digitalised societies, farming in transition, waste reduction, and cashless economies, among other topics. As the topics address real world questions and the process follows a globally proven innovation method, the results will be interesting also from a wider perspective.
“Project themes are assembled in cooperation with the participating companies, and aligned with globally relevant and trending phenomena. They address real global-level issues with a Zambian perspective,” says the AGS Co-Creation Initiative leader Joonas Kemppainen from Demola Global. “The shared vision behind this programme is ambitious, and we are excited to see what the future visions look like in Zambia after the 6 weeks process.”
Teaming up with students to address future business challenges
Representatives of the “new generation” have been selected for the projects through an open search. In a total of 11 international teams launched October 27, students will be paired up with Zambian and Finnish businesses. These teams will collaborate for six weeks, creating future insights, through Demola Global’s facilitated process and innovative future work methods.
A new culture of interaction is emerging between industry and academia in Zambia. It promotes new perspectives to future opportunities and challenges. The Co-Creation Initiative aims to increase the competences of the participating companies in business scenario development, to prepare them for future landscapes. For the students, the initiative gives a chance to develop new skills, and to work closely with Zambian companies.
Through the AGS Programme, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce Trade and Industry (MCTI) of Zambia, aims to accelerate the growth and competitiveness of micro, SME and startup companies in Zambia, and to build partnerships within the country, regionally and with Finland. AGS focuses on agribusiness, forestry, renewable energy, circular economy and mining services, with ICT and education as cross-cutting sectors. NIRAS Development Consulting is implementing the programme for four years, as a key part of its private sector development portfolio.