Africa is a youthful continent: nearly 41% of its population is under the age of 18. To address the unique challenges of this demographic structure, the African Union (AU) hopes to reposition the continent as a strategic player in the global economy through improved education and application of science and technology in development. The paper proposes the creation of “Innovation Universities” that combine research, teaching, community service and commercialization in their missions and operations. They would depart from the common practice where teaching is carried out in universities that do little research, and where research is done in national research institutes that do not undertake teaching. Under this model, there is little connection with productive sectors. The idea therefore is not just to create linkages between those activities but to pursue them in a coordinated way under the same university structure. Innovation universities can be created in diverse fields such as agriculture, health, industry, services, and environment to advance sustainable development and inclusive growth.