Kenyan innovators will now have a central place to go to for when they have questions, enquiries or when they need government funding to see through their ideas into transformed business through a new national innovation center dubbed Enterprise Kenya that will be available for reach at a later time.
Not that there wasn’t places to go to before, at least according to NACOSTI (the National Council of Science, Technology and Innovation) who during the first day of the forum stated that they had helped out a number of startups with about 45 of them being ICT based, even when no one at the forum seemed to know anything about the existence of such a council.
“At NACOSTI we have seen through about 123 projects, and over 45 if those are based on ICT,” said Moses Rugut the director at NACOSTI. “Representing Kenya at the COMESA awards last year, we took home four wins out of five which was a great demonstration that the country has impressive solutions.”
Sam Gichuru, the founder and CEO at Nailab was keen to note that he was hearing of the over 45 projects for the first time, and him being one of the people to go to when you have an idea for the next disruptive solution and a board member for Innovation and Incubation Spaces at the Kenya IT & Outsourcing Services (KITOS), it is troubling that there is hardly any communication between the hubs and NACOSTI.
Even more troubling was when Rugut admitted that he did not even know the difference between the various hubs that are currently in existence, including iHub, fabhub and Nailab; a situation that shows the need for enhanced collaborations and communications between the innovators and funding institutions and that is why Enterprise Kenya is key.
So what is Enterprise Kenya bringing to the Startups?
You have an idea but you do not know how to follow up on it so you can transform it into a fully-fledged enterprise. You do not know how you are going to make your way to the incubation hubs available or you are too scared of being rejected. You do not know which funding institution is best neither do you know how to go about IP protection or selling your product. What do you do?
This is where Enterprise Kenya comes in to assist you as an innovator overcome all your worries by providing you with the necessary information required to see through your solution from the idea stage, incubation stage as well as the scaling stage where the solution can be able to meet a larger market by the help of the government.
Enterprise Kenya is a national innovation center that is planned to complete establishment soon and once functional will help startups get funding, information on IP protection and rights, become global competitors in the export market, give innovators an opportunity to collectively bid for projects within pre-set structures and help them scale into large corporations that will then create employment.
The forum made a commitment to create 180,000 jobs, contribute to 8 per cent of the GDP, create at least 55 globally competitive companies by 2017 if innovation is given the right environment which included a local content policy and review of procurement laws. Also promised was the generation of an upsurge of US$ 500 million, achievement of one billion shillings in IT exports and to provide internships to more than 15,000 interns in ICT.