The advent of technology has supported the rapid growth of innovations since the 19th century. Various sectors have experienced the innovation wave in one way or the other. In Kenya, the youth continue to take the country to greater heights with innovations that are solving economic and social challenges. The Kenya Climate Innovation Center was one of the sponsors of the recently concluded 3rd Annual Nairobi Innovation Week 2017 which was held at the University of Nairobi from 6-10 March, 2017.
The forum whose theme was innovating to solve pressing local and global challenges brought together different stakeholders and players in the innovation space from government, private sector, development partners and research institutions. The aim was to provide a platform for show-casing and encouraging innovation over and above networking and sharing of knowledge.
Over 150 exhibitors including university students showcased their various innovations at the event. One of the innovations dubbed e-pate by students from the University of Nairobi captured the attention of many with its concept of a lost and found document recovery platform that offers a link between the ‘Finder’ and the ‘Searcher’ where classified ads of the lost items are displayed. A similar innovation was also showcased at the event. DigiCert is a platform developed to curb exam cheating and fraudsters of academic certificates who pause as qualified candidates to employees. This innovation is being run and tested by a former student at Strathmore University.
Another key innovation in renewable energy worth noticing was by a company in Kakamega, mega gas, which recycles waste plastic bags and bottles to produce cooking gas and petrol which is used in motorbikes. Eco dudu was also identified as one of the key innovations in the agribusiness sector. The company produces organic animal feeds using the back soldier fly. They also make organic fertilizer as a byproduct.
The week long forum presented an ideal opportunity for KCIC in their search for potential clients. We managed to zero in on at least five innovations which we shall be engaging with in the next few weeks before selection of the final clients.
Speaking during the event, Vice Chancellor UON Prof Peter Mbithi noted that innovations are key in achieving some of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The event ended with an investor pitching session which saw 10 out of 24 selected for the pitch after a three-week boot camp. KCIC was in the judging panel that gave feedback to the innovators.
Long term investment in innovation and commitment is important in spurring the growth of social and economic innovations. Solving local problems requires local knowledge and partnerships. Technology and innovation are central to achieving the SDGs which should also be viewed as a business opportunity. The private and public sector need to work together in supporting and delivering innovations that solve local problems.
By Mercy Mumo