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Universities have a role in building Kenya’s innovation ecosystem

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Dr. Tonny Omwansa, C4DLab, Eng. John Tanui, Chief Executive Officer, Konza Technopolis, Prof. Bitange Ndemo, Associate Professor, School of Business and Mr. Joe Ogutu, Strategy and Innovation Director, Safaricom, hold discussions before the forum.

Kenyan Universities have a crucial role to play in building the country’s innovation ecosystem. This was the topic of discussion at the first Innovation Forum organized by the University of Nairobi (UoN).

While giving the key note speech, Eng. John Tanui, Chief Executive Officer, Konza Technopolis, said that the academic fraternity has a responsibility to ensure that university programmes incorporate practical experience that matches the needs of the industry to ensure that the market is supplied with well-prepared graduates.
 
“We need to increase the university - industry interaction. This way we have an opportunity to broaden our professional expertise and stimulate innovation,” he said. “Exposing students to more practical experiences will yield the desired results of an industrialized economy that spurs growth and development.”
 
The Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbithi, said that the University recognizes that innovation will not just happen. Rather, he said, it takes disciplined, focused and dedicated effort to identify gaps in society, generate alternative ideas, manage these ideas, develop prototypes to be tested, develop business models around them, engage users and finally scale them. “
 
“We recognize the key resources we have got – students, faculty, infrastructure, partners – which are critical feeders of a vibrant innovation ecosystem,” said Prof. Mbithi.
 
The keynote presentation was followed by a panel discussion on the role of universities in building an innovation ecosystem. The panelists tackled pertinent issues on matters innovation. Among the issues that arose include financing, patenting and marketing. Prof. Bitange Ndemo, Associate Professor, School of Business, Dr. Tonny Omwansa, C4DLab and Mr. Joe Ogutu, Strategy and Innovation Director, Safaricom, were the day’s panelists.
 
The forum is the first of a series of innovation lectures planned in collaboration with UoN partners ahead of this year’s Nairobi Innovation Week.