In a bid to advance local manufacturing in the country and further cement academia-industry linkage, Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) is forging a partnership with Merican Limited, a local commercial kitchen equipment manufacturer.
The proposed collaborative research agreement will see the College of Engineering and Technology (COETEC) partner with Merican on manufacturing research matters, covering equipment fabrication, quality standards, innovation, value addition, intellectual property, among others.
Speaking during their second meeting with the Merican team on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, the College of Engineering and Technology Ag. Principal, Dr. Eng. Hiram Ndiritu, underscored the importance of enhancing industry linkages, terming it a key way of ensuring that academia is in tandem with industry dynamics, and that students are holistically trained.
“As a university, we are keen on ensuring that we debunk the notion that learning institutions are ivory towers. Industry players such as Merican are our most valuable partners in ensuring that the university mission and vision is achieved. This can be done through capacity building, technology transfer, and collaborative research,” added Dr. Ndiritu.
His sentiments were echoed by the Chair, Department of Mechatronics Engineering, Dr. (Eng.) Karanja Kabini, who emphasized that experience at an actual manufacturing environment would be key in reinforcing student training and advancing innovation.
“With this partnership, we will have our students absorbed by Merican on industrial attachment, internships and graduate trainee programs. The company will in turn leverage on the skill-set and expertise of these students, due to their training on all facets of manufacturing and mechanical engineering,” added Dr. Muvengei.
On his part, Merican Managing Director, Mr. Fred Akuno, expressed confidence that a collaboration with JKUAT was a move in the right direction, lauding the university’s strength in Engineering, Innovation and Technology.
“As Merican, we believe that industry-academia partnerships are instrumental in advancing research, innovation, and creating a skilled workforce, and that’s why we are here. As a local manufacturer keen on advancing the buy Kenya build Kenya and enhancing our R&D, we have no doubt that in JKUAT we have the right partner,” he said.
Noting that the cost of manufacturing has gone up both locally and globally, Mr. Akuno further averred that the partnership with the university was coming at the right time, expressing optimism that through it, strategies of reducing cost of production locally would be devised and implemented.
Merican Limited is based in Nairobi’s Industrial area, and specializes in custom-made stainless-steel fabrication and installation of commercial kitchen equipment solutions, with a current market share across the East African region.