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Sainsbury Laboratory


Welcome to the African Yam Bean MAKEathon!

You are cordially invited to take part in this exciting innovation event to generate ideas towards enhanced utilisation of the African Yam Bean (AYB). By taking part in this Global Online MAKEathon, you will help improve the livelihood of farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and address the climate change impact together.



What is the African Yam Bean (AYB)?

  • It is Africa’s native tuberous legume plant originated from Ethiopia
  • It produces one of Africa’s sweetest, high-protein beans
  • It simultaneously produces tubers in the ground that are also delicious and high in protein
  • It replenishes the soil and helps neighbouring crops grow better
  • It is drought resistant and uses much less water than soybeans
  • Both beans and tubers provide superior nutritional value to current diets
  • But it’s forgotten and underutilised


AYB MAKEathon: Here is the challenge for you:

The AYB MAKEathon is a unique hybrid makeathon comprising a series of live online events and remote prototyping support from Cambridge and Ethiopia. We will provide resources such as inspiring webinars and mentoring on various topics throughout the event. The participants will have a chance to meet talented, like-minded people around the world online and work in teams to create new business ideas and prototypes. 


How can you create a positive chain reaction of AYB in Sub-Saharan Africa?

The chain can include the steps such as:


The AYB MAKEathon will contribute to achieving several of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, such as: No Poverty (1), Zero Hunger (2), Good Health and Wellbeing (3) and Climate Action (13). Ultimately, your innovation will help:

  • Alleviate poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Diversify plant-based protein sources 
  • Farmers to adapt to climate change
  • Provide better nutrition for the young and elderly
  • Attract more research interest to develop improved varieties


While the list of benefits of this native plant sounds too good to be true, there are challenges for plant biologists to overcome, such as:

  • reducing the maturity time in the field
  • reducing the cooking time in the kitchen
  • increasing the tubers’ shelf life

This partly explains why the AYB is not as popular as it should be. So we are here to raise awareness about AYB, which will solve the chicken-and-egg paradox. Once there is a market demand we could break this vicious circle as scientists can attract more attention to do research and develop improved varieties. Good news for the farmers, the planet and healthy plant-based protein seekers! Why not join us in promoting the glory of AYB?

Apply today here!



7-13th July 2021


Online via Zoom, Slack and Miro 

How the AYB MAKEathon works

A makeathon works like a hackathon where people across disciplines gather and work together to solve a challenge. The AYB MAKEathon provides an additional opportunity to make a physical prototype as you generate ideas, in a hybrid event with online and offline elements.

On days 1 and 2 (7th and 8th July) teams will learn about AYB and attend inspirational webinars. On days 3 and 4 (9th and 12th July) the teams will work together virtually to develop ideas through brainstorming, sketching, prototyping and business modelling via Zoom, Slack and Miro with the support of mentors from Cambridge, Nigeria and Ethiopia. 13th July is the final day for the pitches and the award ceremony. 

The winning ideas will be professionally made into physical prototypes and the winning teams will receive additional mentoring to develop their ideas further.

This is a fantastic opportunity to share your ideas and expertise, help solve the food security and climate crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa, and try out your skills in a unique environment!

Application process

AYB MAKEathon is open to innovative individuals aged 18+ from all backgrounds and genders, including:

  • Aspiring entrepreneurs

  • Ambitious innovators and nudgers

  • Compelling storytellers and communicators

  • Imaginative foodies

  • Creative makers and designers

  • World-class researchers, scientists, and sociologists

  • People who observe others and get a kick out of solving difficult challenges

You DO NOT need to be a professional in African Yam Bean science or agriculture. Just be willing to bring your expertise, passion and team spirit to work collaboratively to solve the challenge. PEOPLE FROM ALL DISCIPLINES, ESPECIALLY FROM PLANT SCIENCE, AGRICULTURE, DESIGN, TECHNOLOGY, CUSTOMER BEHAVIOUR AND BUSINESS ARE HIGHLY ENCOURAGED TO APPLY. We are committed to diversity and members of under-represented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

Register for the AYB MAKEathon by 30th of June 2021. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Places are limited, so apply early to avoid disappointment.

If you are applying as a team (up to 3 members/team), please register individually and specify the team name in the application form.

If you register but cannot attend the event anymore, please inform the organisers ASAP to allow us to allocate new members from the waiting list.

MAKEathon Requirements, Evaluation and Prizes

Teams are required to submit the below final materials by 23:59 BST, the 12th July 2021:

  • One page summary of the concept (template will be provided)

  • No longer than 3 min pre-recorded presentation pitch video covering:

    • Project title

    • Team name and members

    • Challenge and problem statement

    • Innovation concept and how it works

    • Business model and target market

    • Next steps, necessary resources, and implementation plan

  • Submissions must be in English

Evaluation Criteria

  • Innovation & Integrity: Is it addressing the MAKEathon challenge? Is it a creative and original solution for the challenge?

  • Prototype: Does the prototype demonstrate the concept effectively? Is the innovation concept technically feasible?

  • Sustainability Impact: When scaled up, will the solution create enough social and environmental value?

  • Business potential: Is the business model viable? Is it applicable to the real world market and consumers? Is the commercial opportunity scalable?

  • Team & Pitch: Is the team enthusiastic to continue the entrepreneurial journey? Is the pitch compelling?


  • Winner’s plaque and an e-shopping voucher

  • Beautiful botanical illustration print of African Yam Bean

  • Virtual mentoring sessions with for further prototyping and business development  

Agenda - British Summer Time
About Us

The project Peas’n Chips (Bean_preneurs) is an interdisciplinary research collaboration between scientists from University of Cambridge (UK), and the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA, Nigeria). We are a group of plant biologists and sustainable innovation academics working together with a passion for African Yam Bean. We work with Nigerian farmers to understand their real-world challenges and needs and make informed decisions in translating our scientific findings to the field. Our initiative will pave the way to better food security in Nigeria and Sub-Saharan Africa.


Our MAKEathon partners are Makespace Cambridge (UK) and BIT Makerspace (Ethiopia).


Rules and Terms & Conditions



The University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing (“University”)


The “Virtual” MAKEathon Terms of Entry

We are pleased to announce our first hybrid MAKEthon! Here are the rules:

By entering the MAKEathon, you agree to the following legally binding Terms of Entry. IF YOU DO NOT AGREE, DO NOT ENTER THE COMPETITION.



The MAKEathon event commences at 10:00 AM BST on the 7th July 2021, and ends at 13:00 PM BST on the 13th July 2020.

Participants will work 100% remotely with their team using the provided online platforms. Zoom is for synchronous activities and discussions: for example for introductions, webinars, pitch selection, and team ideation, sharing sketches and mentoring sessions. Slack is used mainly as the project repository of information across all teams with fellow participants, mentors, juries, and the event organisers. Miro will be used for brainstorming and in-team idea-sharing.



There is no charge for participation.



The submission project/idea must be new and unique. Additionally, it must address the challenge of the competition.



To ensure a level field for all contestants, all designs and prototypes must be created within the duration of the MAKEathon. We want to ensure that all participants start off on the same footing and we also want to preserve the true nature of a MAKEathon. Failure to comply will result in the offending teams and participants’ disqualification.



We expect all participants to follow high ethical standards. Show respect to all participants, attempt collaboration before conflict, and refrain from demeaning comments.

This is a harassment-free event for everyone, regardless of gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, religion (or lack thereof), or technology choices. We do not tolerate harassment of participants in any form. If you're aware of any harassment, please report it immediately to event organisers. 



The personal details provided at registration will be used strictly only for MAKEathon administration purposes. 

For full details of the IfM's policy

For full details of the Makespace's policy

1.1 The University will use the information on your application form to administer and promote the MAKEathon and further events of a similar nature.

1.2 All participants agree that the University’s Institute for Manufacturing may promote this event including by photographs taken at the event. If you are not willing to be photographed, tell the organiser.

1.3 University also has the right to use for advertisement in the publicity statements or events, including all types of media, both print and online:

• the process photos (excluding the final prototypes)

• short descriptions (provided by the teams)

• all participating teams’ names and likenesses





1. Respecting material of other participants

Participants to this MAKEAthon will respect the authorship of ideas and material submitted by other participants or discussed between participants and will not make use of them without permission of the creator.

No material submitted or presented in the MAKEThon will be treated as confidential and participants are entirely responsible for any decision to communicate ideas, being in mind publication prevents patenting.

Participants therefore must consider carefully what they disclose and not disclose any information or material which they regard as patentable technology or commercially sensitive information. See also para 2.1 and 3 below.

Any disputes between participants or within teams will be for the participants/teams to resolve.


2. Intellectual Property:


2.1 Material submitted to MAKEthon will be shown to the facilitators, mentors and juries.


2.2 The University will not disclose online in a publicly discoverable fashion without the originator’s consent any presentations, photos including zoom screenshots, prototypes, audio, or video recordings.


2.3 All participants guarantee they have checked that they are not including any third party ideas or material and/or they have all the permissions they need to use anyone else’s input to their prototype (including any member of staff, supervisor, other students, employers, work colleagues, friends)


2.4 University staff are funded to generate this MAKEathon concept and disseminate it. The MAKEathon concept (and all material supplied and website content and processes) belongs to the University of Cambridge, developed under the Peas’n Chips project. If you wish to use it, this must be discussed with the University.


2.5 The University does not claim ownership of any materials submitted or prototypes created. Ownership by participants is determined by normal legal principles. (See WIPO).

3. Platform provider terms – video conferencing/collaboration providers

When deciding to disclose material via the IT platforms being used for the Virtual MAKEathon, please consider the platform providers terms and conditions, including any data they collect about you or use of your content. You must familiarise yourself with their specific terms and condition for: