Kenya Innovation Week kicked off in Nairobi on Tuesday to showcase UK-funded programmes that are breaking ground with emerging technologies and initiatives.
The innovation week is supported by the UK, through the East Africa Research and Innovation Hub (EARIH) of the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO). Running from 6th to 8th December 2022 at the Sarit Expo Centre, select Kenyan startups will have a chance to showcase solutions in agritech, clean energy solutions, health, and more.
“It is an immense privilege to know that the UK Government and the UK science and innovation sector have been Kenya’s partners on this journey right from early-stage grant funding of innovations and startups and research systems strengthening. This partnership has realised mutual benefits including ecosystem growth, scaling of innovations, enhanced research capabilities, and enabling more future-proof policies and regulations,” said Professor Charlotte Watts, Chief Scientific Adviser – Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office.
The EARIH’s partnership with the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA), through the Africa Technology and Innovation Partnership (ATIP) Programme, has strengthened commercialisation practices through several projects that have built the capacity for researchers and research institutions to commercialise. These include the Research and Innovation for Africa (RISA) Fund, Research to Commercialisation (R2C) project, and the Institutional Support (IS) to commercialisation project. In addition, in line with KeNIA’s mandate to strengthen Kenya’s innovation ecosystem, ATIP supported the development of a training tool for innovation champions on incubator set-up and management targeted at academic and research institutions.
The ATIP supported KeNIA in designing and operationalising the Kenya Innovation Bridge Platform as part of efforts to strengthen systems and processes to facilitate more trust, synergy, and collaboration in the ecosystem. The Kenya Innovation Bridge Platform is a digital marketplace with more than 1200 users showcasing their innovations, connecting and interacting with other users (industry players, funders, or fellow researchers).
The ATIP, through the RISA Fund and the EARIH, is planning to scale up funding for all the above activities. Separately, through the Global Alliance Africa project, ATIP is also supporting the Government of Kenya to enhance the innovation ecosystem through various interventions, including working with innovation stakeholders in Kenya’s secondary cities. Through the Evidence Fund, the UK has worked collaboratively with KeNIA to generate the first Kenya Innovation Outlook (KIO) to establish a set of relevant indicators to monitor the innovation ecosystem.
The Newton Utafiti Fund has further cemented the UK-Kenya science and innovation partnership by supporting 21 high-quality research partnership projects and over 40 innovators to commercialise their ideas through the leaders in the innovation programme. The Newton Fund is a bilateral programme that seeks to contribute to partner countries’ economic development and social welfare. In addition, the Science and Innovation Network (SIN) has forged partnerships with Kenyan institutions in priority areas, including emerging technology, climate change, and health.
“We continue to build on years of mutual science, technology, and innovation partnerships with the Kenyan government and other key stakeholders, developing mutual priorities for collaboration and learning. This has generated evidence for more effective policy and decision-making, built capacity for researchers and research institutions, supported start-ups, innovators and entrepreneurs to attract investment and grow their business and create new jobs, and enabled affordable, inclusive, safe, and secure digital access. All this is critical to ensuring long-term sustainable growth,” said High Commissioner Jane Marriott OBE, British High Commission, Nairobi.