Two men having a discussion in the foreground over a desk with another man sitting at another desk in the background on a laptop

Mat Wright

This opportunity is now closed. The information below is for reference purposes only.


Youth are Africa’s greatest asset. Africa’s youth population is rapidly growing and expected to double to over 830 million by 2050. If properly harnessed, this increase in the working age population could support increased productivity and stronger, more inclusive economic growth across the continent.

In response to this need, the British Council has developed and designed the Innovation for African Universities (IAU) project, part of the Going Global Partnerships programme, to foster the culture of innovation and entrepreneurship within universities and facilitate the development of skills required to build industries, companies, products and services. The project is designed to support the development of Africa – UK University Partnerships that build institutional capacity for HE engagement in entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystems in selected African countries.

Update: Entrepreneurship projects for Africa have been announced

The British Council is delighted to announce the winners of funding for the inaugural Innovation for African Universities programme (IAU) 2021

Over 50 applications were assessed through a rigorous process of multistage evaluation and 24 projects were selected to be a part of the programme.  Many of the projects represent a new generation of young inspiring student-led projects, addressing local and global challenges. They reflect extensive understanding of community needs and problems.  The support and interest in the IAU programme have been remarkable and we thank everyone who participated.

Congratulations to the selected participants!

See the full list of selected participants here

Information about Phase One

In January 2021, we put out a call for partners to manage certain programme components and host the centre of excellence. After a rigorous selection process with over 30 applications received from a cross section of universities within the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa, we are happy to announce the selection of tripartite partners: University of Nairobi, City University of London and the Change School.

Over the next 18 months, we will work with these institutions to develop a network of collaborative partnerships which support an exchange of learning that fosters an increased culture of entrepreneurship and innovation within universities across focal programme locations.

The overarching programme objective is to strengthen the capacity of universities and increase their capability to participate and provide meaningful contributions as key players within the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Programme delivery will be structured into five components, the details of which are outlined in our Terms of Reference.

This opportunity was open to joint applications involving one UK and one Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) university, each with expertise in designing and delivering activities that support entrepreneurship engagement by students, graduates and faculty.

The Centre of Excellence will receive a grant of £700,000 which they will be expected to use for implementing IAU activities.

Over the programme lifecycle, the selected institutions will engage, interact and learn from each other and convene and manage a network of 20 - Universities, enterprise support organisations and other key ecosystem players as outlined in Component 2.

For full details about the opportunity, expected programme outputs, deliverables, roles and responsibilities, please refer to the Terms of Reference.

Information about Phase Two

The British Council has launched the Innovation for African Universities (IAU) programme aimed at strengthening the capacity of Universities to participate and provide meaningful contributions as key players within the entrepreneurship ecosystem  in their respective regions.

The programme will be delivered by a Centre of Excellence consisting of tripartite partners – University of Nairobi, City University of London and Change School London

In July 2021, we invited universities from the UK, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa to apply as Network partnerships. Network partners will be engaged through a community of practice, exchanging knowledge and ideas that improve their understanding of the roles of universities in entrepreneurship ecosystems, while fostering a culture of innovation among themselves.

Funding of up to £60,000 was available to support each mutually beneficial partnership to respond to an identified problem around systems strengthening, entrepreneurship, youth employability, climate change and digital innovation. 

For further information on phase two, please refer to the Call for Network partnerships - Terms of reference and guidance documents, found in our Downloads section below.

Clarification sessions

Learn more about Phase Two by watching a recording of the clarification sessions from 8 July.

Watch the session recording

Learn more about Phase One and the centre of excellence opportunity, by watching a replay of the clarification call held on 10 February, in which the project team answered clarification questions about the opportunity.

Watch the session recording