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ICT Innovation hubs to benefit from Word Bank, Nokia funding initiative

By By Fredrick Obura | May 30th 2013

By Fredrick Obura

NAIROBI, KENYA: The World Bank and Nokia have announced a joint initiative to improve on access of Information and Communication Technology initiatives in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The two will work with innovation hubs across the regions to identify ideas for funding by Finland’s AppCampus.

AppCampus was established in 2012 as a mobile application accelerator program managed by Aalto University in Finland. With an 18 million euro joint investment between Microsoft and Nokia, the aim is to foster mobile application development on Windows Phone and any other Nokia platform.  

The announcement made on Thursday in East London South Africa earmarks part of that investment fund for twenty six awards per annum for the best mobile innovation ideas to be made via the mobile innovation hub network, starting with infoDev’s mobile application labs in South Africa, Kenya, Armenia and Vietnam, as well as mobile application laboratories  in Egypt (TIEC), Nigeria (CC Hub) and Mexico.

The value of each award ranges from 20,000 Euro (US$ 26,000) to 70,000 Euro (US$ 90,000) depending on the complexity of the solution or business model behind the idea.

“By working jointly with the mobile innovation hubs, we are able to connect more effectively with local developers in emerging markets and provide support in terms of funding, especially for locally relevant innovations,” says Pekka Sivonen, Head of AppCampus.

“Although the criteria to access the AppCampus funding remains the same, with ideas needing to be original, competitive and scalable, the advantage is faster processing and the mentor ship provided by these innovation hubs.”

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The hubs and mobile Laboratories (mlabs) will be responsible for scouting talent and vetting ideas to be submitted to the global pool. World Bank’s infoDev mobile laboratories (mLabs)  foster regional entrepreneurship, employment and competitiveness by providing open spaces where developers can find training, mentoring, technical expertise and access to financing. In a short time, m Lab-supported start ups have brought over 120 commercial apps to market The best new entries from this network will compete against each other each quarter for the available awards.

“Nokia, working closely with infoDev, has supported the establishment and operation of a number of mLabs across emerging markets in support of local developers,” says Jussi Hinkkanen, vice president corporate relations for Nokia Middle East and Africa.

“The AppCampus collaboration showcases our commitment to strengthening the growing mLab network around the world and infoDev’s vision of supporting emerging market entrepreneurs in conquering local, regional and global markets”.

The official launch of the program took place during the mobile stream at the Global Forum on Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship in East London, South Africa, organized by infoDev and the South African Department of Science and Technology. A key theme of the Forum is how innovation can lead to high-growth entrepreneurship which creates sustainable jobs.  Valerie D’Costa, infoDev’s Program Manager says, “The AppCampus initiative fits with the philosophy of infoDev of supporting innovative entrepreneurs from developing countries. We want to support those who can excel with some level of mentorship, skills training and seed financing. We provide potential job-creators better access to markets, which is what we are all about.”


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