- The centre will admit its first cohort of 20 finalists out of the 2022 Innovation Challenge.
- He said the hub is expected to offer a creative environment to unlock infinite opportunities for innovations that may be disruptive
A new innovation and research centre has been launched at Mount Kenya University, offering a world-class technology hub for youths.
MKU vice chancellor Prof Deogratius Jaganyi said the rapid growth witnessed in developed countries can be attributed to investments in technology innovation capacities.
“These countries recognised that innovation is not just about high technology products but that capacity has to be built early and be embedded in the development process," he said.
"Research and development played a key role in the meteoric rise of Asian economies such as China, India and Korea. They invested heavily to support their innovations."
The Mount Kenya Innovation and Incubation Hub was officially opened at the institution’s main campus in Thika town by Benson Muthendi, acting chief executive of the Youth Enterprise Development Fund.
“Kenya's economic growth is a result of the translation of ideas, knowledge, and skills into products, services, and processes," Muthendi said.
"The country's continued economic competitiveness and sustainable development have been achieved by intensified technological innovations."
The centre was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union through the African Higher Education Leadership for Advancing Inclusive Innovation for Development project.
It is intended to support the life cycle of innovations, from inception to market diffusion and commercialisation.
The hub will also enable scientific findings, knowledge and intellectual property to flow from creators to the benefit of the community.
The centre will admit its first cohort of 20 finalists out of the 2022 Innovation Challenge.
Githinji Gatambu won the top award out of the 20 shortlisted finalists in the challenge.
The contestants showcased their innovations during the event that was held at the Mwai Kibaki Convention Centre.
Gatambu’s presentation was on waste plastic management in the real estate sector.
Nthuku Mumo was the first runners-up position while Margret Wambui Wahome came third.
An investor, Dr Josephat Karanja, urged the young innovators to seek guidance and mentorship from their peers and be patient to succeed.
Innovations will be incubated for six months at the hub and receive a support value of up to Sh2 million.
The incubation package will include access to the facility, customised coaching by experts, access to state-of-the-art equipment and assistance in intellectual property protection and commercialisation
Muthendi termed the centre a significant investment set to create a conducive environment for nurturing youth-developed innovative ideas.
“We live in the information age where new opportunities are emerging every day and only those who can learn and adapt will gain a competitive advantage," Muthendi said.
"This hub will provide an environment for collaborative learning among students, professors and researchers from various disciplines.
"Bringing them together in a conducive atmosphere to interact and share ideas will inspire innovations, new skills and knowledge needed in the 21st century."
MKU founder and board chairman, Dr Simon Gicharu said innovation has the potential to create positive contributions to an organisation and change lives in society.
“MKU is a research-based university; we have established this centre to offer an open space to nurture creativity and innovation. The centre will support collaboration, idea generation and value creation,” he said.
He said the hub is expected to offer a creative environment to unlock infinite opportunities for innovations that may be disruptive or incremental in nature from ideation to commercialisation.
“The innovation space encourages inclusion through collaboration. MKU innovation and incubation centre will be a platform for connections and networks,” the chairman said.
Decrying rampant unemployment in Africa, Gicharu said job creation will benefit greatly from promotion of innovation centres.
He, therefore, encouraged the youth to be driven by passion and inspiration and take full advantage of the new hub and similar facilities in Kenya and the region.
“Let us strive to come up with innovations that can be patented,” he said.
(Edited by Tabnacha O)