Presidential CEO Forum

Shaping the Nation

Uganda Industrial Research Institute is a government parastatal organization under the auspices of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MoSTI). The institution is mandated to undertake applied research and to develop and/ or acquire appropriate technologies in order to create a strong and effective and competitive industrial sector in Uganda.

One popular perception of innovation, that one meets in media every day, is that has to do with developing brand new, advanced solutions for sophisticated, well-off customers, through the exploitation of the most recent advances in knowledge.  Such innovation is normally seen as carried out by highly educated labour in R&D intensive companies, large or small, with strong ties to leading centres of excellence in the scientific world. Hence innovation in this sense is a typical ‚first world activity. 

There is, however, another way to look at the innovation that goes significantly beyond the high-tech picture just described.  In this broader perspective, innovation – the attempt to try out new or improved products, processes or ways to do things – is an aspect of most if not all economic activities.

It includes not only technologically new products and processes but also improvements in areas such as logistics, distribution and marketing. The objective of the PCF was to identify and disseminate innovative ideas, solutions and actions which will maximize the benefits of the UIRI, especially for women and youth. To enhance capacity of young Ugandans for policy development and implementation.



Governments in advanced economies have historically helped spur commercial innovation, particularly as a result of spillovers from defence-related research and development. In many emerging markets, however, the government lacks the resources or capabilities to do so. In Africa, as in other emerging markets, this has created an opening for private firms to drive innovation. By applying advances in technologies, businesses are enhancing productivity and growth across the continent.

Looking at the continent’s success stories, several areas emerge where innovation in Uganda can meet both commercial objectives and development goals, including enhancing labour productivity, boosting economic growth, and reducing poverty.

  • Creating economies of scale
  • Harnessing economies of scale
  • Pursuing public-private partnerships
  • Technologies that boost productivity

Uganda has a number of specific attributes that create openings for private enterprises of all types to advance technology and drive growth, including a deficit of skilled workers, geographically fragmented national markets, a growing consumer class with increasingly discerning purchasing habits, and a large endowment of underdeveloped or poorly developed natural resources.