Mr Yahel Vilan, Israel Ambassador to Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, and Sychelles. Photo credit: kkl-jnf.org
Three months after C4DLab organised a public lecture on ICT and innovation, another one is up and coming in about two weeks .
Coming at a time when the startup incubation centre is also setting the stage for its annual its annual technology and innovation exhibition event, ‘Nairobi Innovation Week‘ in early August, the upcoming lecture so far in a series of three is expected to spark important conversations on technology and innovation before the big day that is the Nairobi Innovation Week.
The previous two held between August 2014 and February this year, had attracted technology and innovation champions including Ms. Mwende Gatabaki, Acting Director General, Kenya Citizens & Foreign Nationals Management Service, Prof. Timothy Waema, lecturer Information Systems, University of Nairobi, Prof. Bitange Ndemo, University of Nairobi lecturer and former Principal Secretary, Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology, as well as most recently Konza Tehnopolis Development Authority chief executive Engineer John Tanui.
“These are quarterly talks, organized by C4DLab on topical ICT issues in relation to national development in partnership with Government and private sector stakeholders,” says Dr Tonny Omwansa, C4DLab Director.
To feature the Israel Ambassador to Kenya Mr.Yahel Vilan, Dr Omwansa said that the public lecture coming in about two weeks will take the form of keynote presentations and panel discussions, with other participants welcome to share their views on emerging issues.
“On that note, the forum will be held on Thursday, 19th May, 2016 at Millenium Hall 1, School of Computing, University of Nairobi, Chiromo Campus from morning hours,” he added .
In the meantime, the power points of the third public lecture delivered in late February by the Konza Tehnopolis Development Authority chief executive Engineer John Tanui, are worth focusing on:
Speaking at a forum which brought together students and industry stakeholders to discuss the role of universities in building innovation ecosystems, Engineer Tanui had challenged local universities to up and strengthen the level of collaboration between industry and academia to foster more innovation and entrepreneurship that suits the needs of the nation.
His call came hot on the heels of a World Economic Forum’s “Global Competitiveness” report which ranks Switzerland as the most competitive country in the world since 2014, with her success primarily linked to investments in creating an efficient system of education and research that links the academic fraternity to the industry.
“Further, the Bloomberg Innovation Index 2015 ranked Kenya at position 92 out of 141 with a score of 30.19 percent on innovation,” he said.
“This is good progress, however, there is a growing concern about Kenya’s poor track record on the transfer of technology from the university to the industry and the commercialization of academic research.
In addition, as a country, we rank poorly in the number of registered patents and very few universities have commercial spin-offs that they can identify with. This can be largely attributed to lack of strong Technology Transfer Offices that are to naturally focus on building strong collaboration between the industry and universities,” he added.
He then went ahead to challenge participants to work closely together to facilitate the churning out of innovative solutions from the theories and research work that both the universities and industry have developed.
“Exposing students to more practical experiences will yield the desired results of an industrialized economy that spurs growth and development. The industry on the other hand will see greater value in working with the academia to the extent that it advances market objectives,” he added.
“Other universities and countries have done it and we can do it too· We have made progress, as a country. We are unmatched in research expenditure compared to the rest of our Sub Saharan counterparts. The World Economic Forum’s global competitive report 2015 affirms this, putting Kenya in position three after South Africa and Egypt.”
However, he noted that Kenya still has a long way to go compared to South Korea, whose Research and Development spending increase at an annual average rate of 12 percent, settling on 59.3 trillion dollars in 2013. This is equivalent to 4.15 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, the highest percentage in the world according to a 2015 Yonhap news agency report .
“Kenya needs to borrow from this example and walk in the same lane to push her research spending up with the view of increasing focus on scalable innovations.
That is why we are determined, through the upcoming Konza Regional Innovation Hub, to build a platform for collaboration, capacity building and knowledge sharing between government and the industry at large,” he said.
The hub will host, among other establishments, university campuses, Centers of Excellence and innovation centers to be established by local universities and the private sector.
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