Lack of funding a major challenge to innovators, students say at Rift fete

Participants during Central Rift Innovation Week which is being held at Kabarak University in Nakuru County on November 3, 2022. [Harun Wathari Standard}

Youth innovators have blamed the national and county governments for allegedly sidelining them in funding and growth opportunities.

The youth, who converged at Kabarak University in Nakuru County for the Central Rift Innovation Week, said the two levels of governments have failed to set aside funds to support innovation that would be critical in solving some of Kenya's development challenges.

“Many of youth have been locked out of running and managing of the country's affairs and instead of appreciating our role in innovation, they have turned a blind eye on us, discouraging youth from venturing out and generating new ideas,” said Daniel Onyango, an innovator.

Onyango said lack of funds and resources were blocking them from achieving and accomplishing their dreams.

Sammy Chemwoiwa, the Principal Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology, said the tertiary institution had supported innovators but challenges emerged when the students finish the course without accomplishing the innovative ideas.

“The challenge we face is that students tend to finish their course within a short period of time without implementing their innovations. This has led to theft of the intellectual property,” he added.

The meeting which was attended by Vice Chancellor Henry Kiplangat, the area deputy governor David Kones, and other stakeholders from Central Rift entered the third day on Thursday.

Prof Kiplangat acknowledged that the event was an important milestone in the ongoing development of research, innovation and outreach at the university.

“Over the years we have grown this function through development of policies, establishment of requisite committees and offices, increasing internal funding for research, innovation and outreach,” he added.

Prof Kiplangat said the event will provide the institution with a platform to grow research and innovation in the community that comprises other academic institutions, industries and the counties around.

In order to achieve the objective of the event, he said training of innovators and researchers on aspects of the commercialisation process and exhibition of innovation outputs was the important factor.

“The event also provides Kabarak University with a platform to launch her five-stage commercialization journey model which is conception, prototyping, protection, incubation and commercialization,” he said.

Kones said research and innovations cut issues across the two levels of government and across county departments.

“Various departments within the county have allocated funds for research and innovations in each financial year. Stakeholders and institutions of higher learning are encouraged to register as service providers with the county and ensure that they are prequalified within the county government to enable a competitive procurement process,” Kones said.

The deputy governor encouraged women to embrace safe reproductive health practices.

Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) official Tonny Omwansa said their organisation was committed to enabling innovation towards socio-economic development.

While addressing the event via Zoom, the CEO KeNIA said the organisation was working on various ways to support innovators.

“We are going to support innovators and researchers on issues of commercialisation and funding,” Dr Omwansa said.

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