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State launches student-centered academia platform

The Ministry of Investment, Trade, and Industry, through the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP), has unveiled a student-centric industry academic platform dubbed iTATU (ideate, innovate, and implement).

The platform aims to enable colleges and universities and their students to partner with individual companies for specific product development.

The Ministry of Investment has partnered with the Maastricht School of Management to help innovators get access to network mentorships to enable them to become new entrepreneurs and intellectual property protection for co-benefit sharing.

State Department for Industry Principal Secretary Juma Mukhwana said the Universities and Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges have a mandate to conduct research while pointing out that the majority of the research is not commercialised.

The PS made the remarks on Tuesday in a speech read on his behalf by the State Department for Industry’s Secretary of Administration, Karanja Njora, during the launch of the iTATU platform held at Nairobi Garage Promenade in Westlands.

Dr. Mukhwana said there is a need to develop a model that can have a self-sustaining industry for the academic platform.

“This will drive open innovation models where the industries are able to post their challenges and invite the students to innovate, as well as set them on a path of creating sustainable entrepreneurship pathways,” stated Dr. Mukhwana.

He at the same time noted that Kenya seeks to become globally competitive through a bottom-up economic transformation agenda by creating a sustainable pool of micro, small, and medium enterprises as per the fourth medium-term plan for 2023–2027.

The PS further underpinned the partnership between academia and industry, saying that it will drive innovations, new product development, and industrial competitiveness.

“The world is at the point of a significant shift in how economies are organised and driven by two key megatrends, which are the drive for sustainability through adopting green manufacturing known as Green and the 4th industrial revolution (industry 4.0) that advances the use of artificial intelligence, robotics, 3D printing, and genetic engineering.”

World Bank representative Sameer Goyaal said that the World Bank started the project in 2019 but was slowed down by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The country is still recovering from the pandemic that paralysed this initiative that we started long ago but is now gaining momentum,” said Mr. Goyaal.

He said students have fertile ideas that can transform into technology, which will in turn make them innovators and entrepreneurs in this competitive world of business.

Mr. Goyaal added, “These innovative ideas develop how changes lead to sustainable development, thereby making the students and innovators futuristic in nature.”

By Ali Sheikh Mohamed

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