By Felix Olick
Nairobi, Kenya: Kenyatta University (KU), which has been growing by leaps and bounds, is planning yet another first.
The university’s Vice-Chancellor Olive Mugenda Wednesday revealed the university would set up an industrial and business parks on the heels of an innovation centre that was opened Wednesday.
Prof Mugenda said a proposal for the establishment of the park, which will give students and youthful entrepreneurs a place to do business, had already been written.
She made this public during the official opening of the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre that will give Kenyans with innovative ideas an opportunity to transform their dreams into business.
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“We believe strongly that after the innovations have been fully incubated at the Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre, they need to transit into the Industrial and Business Parks,” Mugenda announced Wednesday
“The university’s intention is to put up and equip the Industrial and Business Park so that students and youth who mature from the Incubation Centre can have a place to do business,” she added.
The VC asked for government support in setting up the park and requested for a share of the Sh6 billion meant for the youths to assist innovators to kickstart their projects.
“Once the ideas mature in the Incubation Centre, the youth entrepreneurs need some resources to develop the product and move them into the market. This could be from a revolving fund so that when they repay, the money can help others,” she told Education Cabinet Secretary Jacob Kaimenyi.
Chandaria Business Innovation and Incubation Centre was financed by business mogul Manu Chandaria to the tune of Sh25 million and will host up to 100 innovations.
Wednesday, the university received a further boost after the Youth Enterprise Development Fund contributed a further Sh5 million to help the students develop their ideas.
Mr Chandaria pledged an additional Sh5 million. The National Commission for Science and Technology also pledged support.
Deputy President William Ruto challenged other institutions of higher learning to put up business and innovation centres similar to the one at KU.
In a speech read on his behalf by Prof Kaimenyi, Ruto noted that one way to grow the economy was through innovation.
“I am elated that Kenyatta University is taking a strong lead in inculcating the culture of innovation among our youth. This is because innovation triggers a development circle and unleashes human ingenuity to develop and deliver products and services that are needed by the population,” Ruto said.
The National Commission for Science and Technology Chief Executive officer, Shaukat Abdulrazak, said his organisation finances innovators for up to Sh1 million during the prototype phase and gives them an additional Sh3 million to commercialise the project.
“If Kenya is going to be globally competitive, then innovation is the way to go,” Prof Abdulrazak noted.
KU Council Chairman Ratemo Michieka expressed optimism that the new centre at KU would be a boost to vision 2030.