The University of Nairobi in conjunction with a number of partners yesterday launched the Nairobi Innovation Week at the Hotel Intercontinental in Nairobi. The breakfast launch that began at 7.30am aimed at officially launching the Nairobi Innovation Week 2019. The event brought together representatives from the Ministry of Trade and Industrialization, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, Embassy of Finland, GIZ, media and academia.

The Nairobi Innovation Week is an initiative by the University of Nairobi that seeks to support and accelerate the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region.  It brings together partners from government, private sector, development partners and research centres with an aim of providing a platform for showcasing and encouraging innovation over and above networking and sharing knowledge. Since its inception in 2015, the Nairobi Innovation Week has seen to the successful emergence of over 30 startup enablers in the country.

The 2019 edition of the Nairobi Innovation Week comes with the introduction of the Ideation of Commercialization Seminar and the Innovation Summit.  The seminar provides a series of interactive training sessions by leading experts providing insights and information to transform ideas to concepts to commercialised products and services. The summit on the other hand is a global gathering of business leaders, venture capitalists, innovators, start-ups, academia and policy makers coming together to learn, be inspired and network on all things innovation.

The Korean Trade and Investment Agency presented their plans for the 2019 Nairobi Innovation Week 2019. Kotra hopes that the NIW2019 will present opportunity for a hackathon for IoT products, with three groups under that; engineers like Google, college students on using the IoTs and improving the classroom experience with the digital products and finally the younglings in primary schools so as to make their classes fun and active. The making of a device that could be used as a theft detector, clap switch, pet feeder, minicar and the GoTouch beam that turns any surface to a smartboard were some of kotra’s presentations.

The Embassy of Finland representative insisted on the supporting of these start-ups as the country is bubbling with young people, with an entrepreneurial spirit and vast resources. He applauded the University of Nairobi and its partners for birthing an amazing concept for innovators.

Director of Internal Trade Mr. Jared Nyaundi insisted on focusing energy and time on startups. He assured the audience that the government is committed to the development of local start-ups as they ensure growth and promote an innovative culture. He added that innovation supports the use of natural resources. He went on to say that the government has put in place measures of protecting intellectual property rights in the innovation sector. Legal measures have actually been established so as to ensure the promotion and facilitation of protection of intellectual property rights and commercialization of innovations for regional and international markets.

From left; Benard Chiira, Cecilia Mwangi, Jonas Tesfu and the Moderator Dr Tony Omwansa

The panel, moderated by Dr. Tonny Omwansa (the 2019 NIW chair) consisted of four members namely Jonas Tesfu CEO Pangea Accelerators, Ms. Cecilia Mwangi, GIZ-Make-IT Coordinator Kenya and Bernard Chira Founding Chair ASSEK (Association of Startup & SMEs Enablers of Kenya). Dennis Karano Co Founder FlexPay (a beneficiary of NIW) was absent with apology. Their plans for the NIW2019 were simple, collaboration with start-up enablers and partnerships with healthcare and investment start-ups, fixing gaps noticed in 2018, start-up pitching session and support selection process by collaborating to ensure participation of hubs and extension of these enablers to all parts of the country.

The stakeholder panel applauded the University of Nairobi for the Innovation Week Concept and traced the growth of the initiative from the time of inception in 2015 up until now. When asked where they saw the initiative in 5 years, Jonas said that he hoped that NIW would one day be the talk of every nation. That people from all over the world will realize what a gem NIW is and attract more stakeholders and start-ups. Cecilia hoped for more collaboration with the companies in the private sector. Also, to see the projection of successful start-ups spread on to more younger start-ups and the cycle continues. As for Bernard, more participation by entrepreneurs and real investments in the innovation sector define the future of NIW.

Prof Mbithi, VC University of Nairobi

The Vice Chancellor University of Nairobi closed the short launch by inviting everyone on board to partner with the University of Nairobi in supporting start-ups and innovations. He also asked that many entrepreneurs and innovative individuals attend the June 10th to 14th event in order to get feedback and expand networks with their start-ups. He then declared the Nairobi Innovation Week 2019 officially launched before leaving time for media interviews,  networking and refreshments.

Leave a Comment