Increasing Finnish–Zambian collaboration

PBL-BioAfrica was represented in the Finnish Week of Business in Zambia that was held virtually on April 26–28. The project is now calling for companies and societal organisations in all partner countries to participate in reforming education.

Text Varpu Somersalo
screenshot of HAMK presentation in Finnish Week of Business in Zambia

Dr Eija Laitinen, Project Manager of PBL-BioAfrica, and professor Kavwanga Yambayamba, Chair of the Project Board, presented the project in the Finnish Week of Business in Zambia. The annual event was attended by dozens of participants from companies, educational institutes and societal organisations.

HAMK is currently coordinating two projects, AgriSCALE and PBL-BioAfrica, in collaboration with Zambian partner universities and societal organisations. Both projects aim at a thorough curriculum reformation in the field of agriculture and bioeconomy entrepreneurship. The reformations are implemented in close collaboration with the industrial sector in order to identify and address the gaps between the academia and working life.

“This is a completely new way for universities to offer education”, Dr Laitinen says. “It is the universities’ role to build a sustainable future and this cannot be done without the industry.”

Companies benefit from cooperation through finding new ideas, innovations and business opportunities with motivated students. Cooperation can also start with small steps, such as a single student assignment for developing a product, service or process within the company. Sometimes the collaborations grow unexpectedly, as new synergies are found.

“We are creating a new innovation ecosystem where companies can continuously co-create product and service design innovations with academia”, professor Yambayamba says. “One of the main benefits for companies is that they will eventually be able to recruit more competent graduates.”