Title: Stimulating Industrial Development In Uganda Through Open Innovation Business Incubators
Authors: Joshua Mutambi
Keywords: Business Incubation, Industrialization, Open-Innovation, Triple-Helix, Uganda
Issue Date:
Abstract: Uganda is an agro-based land locked country with a population of about 30 million people. It is well endowed with natural resources and salubrious climate. Her industrial profile is still dominated by agro-industry and not innovation led, predominantly micro, small and medium scale enterprises (MSMEs). Facing the challenges of poverty alleviation, a high population growth rate (3.5% p.a), climatic change and environmental impacts among others, Uganda identified exploitation of natural resources, value addition as well as industrialization to transform the country and reduce poverty in her National Development Plan 2010/11-2014/15 (NDP).In this respect, there are many existing programs and initiatives in the country supporting small businesses, but tend to suffer from a number of weaknesses. In particular typically small businesses find it difficult to do research and development; commercialize their results in markets (innovation) as fast as they should. For micro, small & medium enterprises to be dully competitive in a competitive economic environment requires that they develop internal capabilities to effectively assimilate, use and adapt product and process technologies for their businesses to survive on an ongoing basis.To overcome this drawback, the concept of Business Incubation has been proposed. This concept has gained large interest in the research community. The key idea is to create and nurture new businesses for growth by providing services and infrastructure required by utilizing the external knowledge sources (open innovation) and triple-helix model which assist formation of business and industrial clusters. A business incubator is an organization that supports the creation and growth of new businesses by providing services and infrastructure that is required by the targeted clients.

Given that most firms in developing countries start too small to compete especially in international markets, a pre-requisite to industrial development, governments and policy makers should give particular attention to the constraints and needs of MSMEs. This can be done by adopting a mix of policies and framework conditions to reduce on the obstacles that hamper technological innovation, collaboration and business growth. In particular is access to finance and enhancing technology and business capacity development through training, linkages and networks.

This Licentiate thesis discusses and reviews the initiatives and programs aimed at supporting the development of MSMEs with a view to stimulate industrial development in Uganda. The main aim of this research is to examine the process of business incubation and explain the contribution of open innovation business incubators to entrepreneurs/ start-up firms within the broader context of developing entrepreneurship, promoting science, technology and innovation and creating employment.

This research focuses on the roles and relationships of government, university and research institutions and the private sector as sources of knowledge for technological innovations. Literature review, theory understanding, and participatory methods including group discussions with questionnaires, meetings and interviews, were used to achieve the objectives.

From the findings, it was revealed among MSMEs that due to their sizes, limited managerial and technological skills, and inadequate functional business support services have had adverse effects on their upgrading and growth. There was little linkage and follow up between industry and other public research sectors i.e. government agencies and higher institutions although there are quite a number of support institutions with poor coordination. The research analyzed a wide range of issues that are related to the desired structural transformation of the Ugandan economy towards industrialization process. Finally it will propose strategies for the most appropriate model for Uganda.

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