Startups set to reap big from commercialisation of innovation hubs, ideas

CEO Kenya National Innovation Agency Tonny Omwansa after he was unveiled as the Substantive Executive Officer at Hotel ParkInn, Nairobi on November 26, 2020. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The Association of Startups and SME Enablers of Kenya (Assek) has teamed up with the  Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) to create an enabling environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.

This comes at a time when KeNIA has begun developing a 10-year National Innovation Masterplan that will streamline guidelines on commercialisation and coordination of innovation hubs set to be released later in the year.

This is expected to further push Kenya ahead of her African peers.

According to the latest startups deal database by “Africa: The Big Deal", startups in Africa raised 2.5 times more funding in the first quarter of 2022 than in a similar period in 2021.

The ‘Big Four’ still attract the vast majority of the funding with Nigeria leading the way at Sh69.2 billion followed by Kenya (Sh55.6 billion), South Africa (Sh26.3 billion) and Egypt (Sh23.3 billion).

“The performance of Kenya is particularly impressive, as there’s already been more funding raised in 2022 there than in 2021 of $412 million (Sh50 billion,” said Assek Chief Executive Mercy Kimalat during the signing event on Monday in Nairobi.

Data harnessing

She said the partnership was a key milestone in data harnessing and would be instrumental in establishing baseline reports, and steering the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem forward.

“The strategic partnership with KeNIA comes at an opportune time as Assek is currently developing a digital platform that will map out Kenyan entrepreneur support organisations who work with startups and SMEs and provide access to ecosystem resources and facilitate capacity building programmes to digitise their operations,” said Ms Kimalat.

This will help enhance service delivery, promote the visibility of their impact - both local and international and facilitate investments in startup innovations.

KeNIA Chief Executive Tonny Omwansa (pictured) said working with Assek would strengthen State efforts in coordination with the entrepreneurship support organisations like Assek, which are key in catalysing technologically enabled ventures.

“This partnership will ensure stronger commercialisation of research and ideas, and allow the agency to support in the identification, and protection of innovative ideas, which are all key to a stronger national innovation system,” he said.