SLU news

ACCELERATE - youth and innovation in sustainable agribusiness development

Published: 15 February 2018

ACCELERATE is an emerging multi-stakeholder partnership (MSP) co-initiated by SLU Global and aimed at accelerating youth in innovating agribusinesses with a global sustainability perspective. SLU and SLU Global contributes through this platform to a range of SDGs, including increasing food and jobs security, quality education, gender, (re)building resilience, supporting innovation and value chain development, with at the core evidence-based partnership for the SDGs (goal 17).

Documentation ACCELERATE 

What is ACCELERATE? Publication (PDF 3,5 Mb)

ACCELERATE 2017 film  In this film, ACCELERATE 2017, you can see glimpses from the workshop, the hackathon and the field trip; and watch interviews with some of the participants. (YouTube)

Interview with H.E. Dr. Victoria Sekitoleko, former Minister of Agriculture in the Ugandan Government, who participated in ACCELERATE 2017. In this film H.E. Dr. Sekitoleko gives her opinion on the ACCELERATE initiative and on agriculture and development in Uganda, in general. (YouTube)


The initiative seeks to trigger innovation and agribusiness ideas in educated youth, infuse these with sustainability concepts, and support these with and concurrently gather important data on knowledge gaps in developing agribusiness. While the engagements were initially focussed on internationalizing and promoting global sustainable agribusiness perspectives in educational programs at SLU and in partner institutions in East Africa, it was quickly realized that such exchanges, when aligned with initiatives outside academia, could lead to much larger impacts. The synergy between partners and their up-and-running programs brings, with relatively little effort and resources, goals within reach that are not attainable by partners individually. This reflects the complementarity of capacities, stakes and mandates of ACCELERATE stakeholders. The MSP is thus not only an academic exercise, but an evidence-based partnership that in a concerted effort aims to bring transformational change closer. The partnership has broad engagements and interests from diverse stakeholders including academia, farming schools, governmental offices, NGOs, businesses and business development platforms, with as focus forging innovative and sustainable youth-led agribusinesses.

The urgency of increased participation of youth in agriculture and agribusiness is evident: rampant youth unemployment, exponential population growth, increased food insecurity, an increased socio-economic divide, and the largest yield gap in Africa. While these factors can be regarded as problems, they also constitute opportunities in disguise regarding agribusiness: yield gaps imply yield opportunities, poorly developed markets allow for new businesses to enter, youth unemployed implies a human capital to tap into, and a growing population implying a ‘demographic dividend’. ACCELERATE aims to inspire aspiring agripreneurs to latch onto the potential that is inherently there, and stimulate creating sustainable agribusinesses with global perspective from the grass roots. 

As a core event the MSP organizes ACCELERATElab, a pipeline for agripreneurship and agribusiness development. ACCELERATE has a strong focus on young undergraduates, who have the knowledge and insights in the complexity of agroecosystems, but lack the competence, means, and/or role models/mentors to engage into development of agribusiness as a sustainable gainful employment. ACCELERATE 2017, a ‘test-the-waters’ event, was attended by well over hundred young agripreneurs from Uganda and Sweden. Inspiring talks and forum discussions around agribusiness development, and a one-day hackathon, supported co-creation and cultivation of agribusiness ideas and skills. The event was very highly evaluated by participants.

Teun Dekker and Kostas Karantininis interviewing H.E. Dr. Victoria Sekitoleko, former Minister of Agriculture in the Ugandan Government, who participated in ACCELERATE 2017.

The 2018 event will be more extensive both in the number of participants and in content. The 4-day event will feature content-rich modules around business plans, skills, export and regulation, quality control, value addition, to name a few. This is followed by active participation in the plenary lectures, and a hackathon to sculpt agribusiness ideas further. Selected agribusiness ideas will be lined up with business development platforms, with seed money after this business development trajectory for matured business plans. The MSP has provided support for an important stake of SLU, supporting multidisciplinarity and global sustainability perspectives in educational programmess at SLU through exchange, and several in-class and e-teaching moments. Important educational links and collaborative proposals have been developed. In return, SLU has been synergizing stakes of other partners, both locally and regionally.

Besides education, a major stake of SLU in the MSP is research, and ACCELERATE offers unique opportunities here. The large number of youths interested in agribusiness and wishing to participate in ACCELERATE creates a unique possibility to gather, with relatively little effort, critical data on agribusiness development. Together with other stakeholders on the platform, SLU will surface (dis)incentives, agripreneurial ideas, knowledge and capacity gaps, (perceived) social-economic constraints in conjunction with gender, education level, age, and other factors in sustainable agribusiness development. This will support setting the research agenda and build an evidence base for well-directed interventions.

SLU and SLU Global contribute through this platform to a range of SDGs, including increasing food and jobs security, quality education, gender, (re)building resilience, supporting innovation and value chain development, with at the core evidence-based partnership for the SDGs (goal 17). 


Teun DekkerResearcher at the Department of Plant Protection Biology
LTV's global network coordinator, SLU Global, 040-415306

SLU Global supports SLU's work for global development to contribute to Agenda 2030.

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