Innovation in the Central Rift
The Central Rift in Kenya broadly comprises of the following counties; Nakuru, Kericho, Bomet, Narok, Baringo, Nyandarua, Samburu and Laikipia.
The region is the source of a number of innovations such as;
- An online voting system developed by Kabarak University in Nakuru county
- The Wasili taxi hailing service developed by an entrepreneur in Nakuru county
- 3D Nasal swabs developed by an innovator in Nyandarua county
- Hand Sanitizers developed by the University of Kabianga in Kericho County
- A locally developed electric tuk tuk in Laikipia county
- The EasyDry M-500 maize dryer developed in Laikipia county
- An automated milk weighing and receipt solution in Bomet county
- A potato marketing application in Narok county.
The region is also home to a number of innovation hubs such as the Nakuru county Innovation hubs established in 2019, Nakuru Box, the Egerton University AgroScience Park, the Rift Valley Innovation Center in Baringo county, the Laikipia Innovation Development Program and the Laikipia Univeristy Innovation Hub
The region is home to a number of Institutions of higher learning such as Kabarak University, Egerton University, University of Kabianga, Bomet University College, Laikipia University, the Rift Valley Institute of Science and Technology and the Kenya Industrial Training Institute. These serve as centers for training, research and innovation.
The Gaps in the Innovation Ecosystem
An innovation landscape mapping exercise undertaken by the University in the months of May and June 2022 revealed the following gaps;
- There is lack of consistent understanding and capacity on innovation among innovators, the county leadership and innovation officers
- There is lack of a platform to expose innovators to potential financiers, partners, and markets.
- There is lack of knowledge and capacity among innovation support officers to support commercialization of innovations in the following areas; Identification of innovative ideas, Refining of innovative ideas, Incubation of innovations, Protection of Intellectual Property, Attracting investment, Commercialization
- The following funding related challenges exist; The lack of funding from the counties to support innovators and lack of knowledge of and access to potential financiers.
The Proposed Interventions
Kabarak University is therefore proposing the following interventions in order to address the gaps identified;
- Undertake sensitization on innovation among innovators, the county leadership and innovation officers.
- Organize an annual innovation exhibition to provide a platform to expose innovators to potential financiers, partners, and markets.
- Offer training for innovation support officers in order to impart knowledge and skills on how to support commercialization of innovations.
- Develop guidelines on commercialization of Innovations for use by innovation support officers in the counties.
The University has identified the following categories of partners to work with in order to deliver the identified interventions.
- County Governments
- Financial Institutions
- Innovation Hubs
- Government Agencies
- Non – Governmental organizations
- Technology Companies
- Technical and Vocational Training Institutions
The Central Rift Innovation Week
The Kenya Innovation Week
Kenya Innovation Week is a flagship innovation forum for the country run by the Kenya National Innovation Agency. It seeks to showcase the innovativeness of Kenyans under which the national priorities of the Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 will be advanced. It will champion relevant policy engagements on innovations within institutions while promoting practical skills necessary to create innovations that impact people.
In addition, Kenya Innovation Week seeks strengthen the research and commercialization practices for greater socio-economic impact. To achieve its objectives, Kenya Innovation Week brings together the local governments, private sector, development partners, media and civil society in order to capitalize in as much shared value as possible.
Rationale for the Central Rift Innovation Week
The Kenya Innovation Week seeks to initiate conversations around innovation across the country. Part of the strategy to achieve a nationwide conversation is to ‘devolve’ the event across the country. The implication thereof is that a number of events will need to be held at various locations across the country.
Kabarak University is therefore proposing to organize and host the event for innovators in the Central Rift region. The University has the requisite facilities, event organization experience and goodwill from the community in the Central Rift. Hosting the event in its main campus in Nakuru will provide a central location for innovators from the central Rift to showcase their innovations and learn during the event.
A Central Rift region innovation event will be easily accessible for innovators and the general public from Nakuru, Kericho, Bomet, Narok, Baringo, Nyandarua, Samburu and Laikipia counties.