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Digital marketplace unveiled to connect Kenya innovators with investors

The Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA) has launched a digital marketplace dubbed, Kenya Innovation Bridge that will link innovators, researchers, and startups to introduce their solutions to partners, funders, and customers.

The Kenya Innovation Bridge developed by KeNIA and funded by the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) aims to increase the discoverability of innovations and connect the existing and emerging innovations in Kenya to a virtual marketplace.

The platform will provide linkages to investments/partnerships and capacity-building opportunities that will transform the innovations into commercially viable products and businesses thereby contributing to job creation and overall economic growth of the Country.

Strathmore University, the implementing partner has helped KeNIA to develop a live interface for feedback.

“There was a gap between innovators and getting into the people who will be interested in their innovations. What we did is we developed a platform that would enable them to have that direct connection with those people who will be interested in whatever they are doing,” said George Masila, KeNIA Communication, and Partnership lead during the launch at SwahiliPot Hub, Mombasa.

He added, “The innovation platform is just a simple interface that people of all levels of education can easily interact with. It’s almost like a LinkedIn or Facebook version”.

In the pilot phase last year, the platform had very few users. To bring more people on board and have an impact, sensitization meetings have so far been held in Nakuru, Kisumu, Mombasa, and Nairobi.

The Kenya Innovation Bridge will work to bridge the inclusivity gap by ensuring innovators living with disabilities and from marginalized regions get equal access to scaling opportunities for their innovations.

“The Kenya Innovation Bridge is a platform that will change the narrative. We want to empower communities through this platform. Imagine an innovator in Tana River being able to connect with a mentor,” said George Masila.

KeNIA intends to visit all the Youth Empowerment Centres (YECs) across the country and develop structured programmes that will cater for youths at all levels of education to innovation.

Mombasa County ICT Chief Officer, Mr. Anwar Ahmed, called for more collaboration and partnerships in the Innovation ecosystem.

“I envision an innovation ecosystem where all the players including, Government, NGOs, Development agencies, Industry, academia, investors, and innovators can develop a unified roadmap and strategy for scaling innovations, and the Kenya Innovation Bridge Platform presents that opportunity for us in Pwani,” said the Chief Officer.

Swahlipot Hub Chief Operating Officer, Atrash Ali commended the development of the platform and exhorted the Youth of Mombasa and its environs to capitalize on the platform to improve their lives.

By Sadik Hassan

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