There is an urgent need to create a new generation of innovation-oriented agricultural that efficiently bring together agricultural research, training, commercialization, and extension. This paper calls for upgrading the training, extension, and commercialization functions of existing national agricultural research institutes (NARIs). This would build on a strong research tradition, ongoing training efforts, connections with the private sector and farmers, and extensive international partnerships. Upgrading NARIs in this manner would also lay the foundation for the emergence of the first generation of research universities in Africa with an initial focus on agriculture. The creation of agricultural innovation universities would serve as a starting point for broader efforts in Africa to strengthen the role of science, technology, and innovation in economic transformation. The paper provides a roadmap that can be used to guide the proposed reform efforts.