Transformative Innovation needed to drive growth, job creation

Mr. Sultan Amri addresses the opening ceremony of the conference

Over 50 participants drawn from eight countries in academia, industry and government, converged at JKUAT on Wednesday May 8, 2019 for the University’s annual Sustainable Research and Innovation Conference.

The event, now in its tenth year, has provided JKUAT a platform to showcase its innovations, while opening new frontiers of collaborations and exchange.

Themed, Sustainable development through technology, innovation and industry linkages, the conference featured over 40 academic paper presentations and two keynote speeches covering key areas such as manufacturing, industrial automation, environmental management, infrastructure development and telecommunication.

Addressing the opening session, Mr. Sultan Amri who chairs the Organizational Performance Index (OPI) technical team, said, Kenya and other developing countries were in dire need of transformative innovations that could make life better for citizens.

Mr. Amri is taken through some of JKUAT innovations at the Display Corner within iPIC building

Mr. Amri who likened the innovation process to a game of football, said without commercialization, innovation in itself is not enough; like a goalless match with exemplary display of field skills. He wondered, for instance, why someone has not thought about making a tool that can be used to prepare “ugali.’

“You go to high schools and see how cooks struggle to prepare ugali and you wonder why the process cannot be automated, like the Italians did with Pizza,” he averred.

To surmount the challenges, Mr. Amri called for strategic partnerships with industry while aiming for solutions to basic needs challenges such as water.

He also identified the role of leadership that can promote talent cultivation and knowledge driven decision making as key components in a high performing organization.

In her welcoming remarks, the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Victoria Wambui Ngumi said JKUAT researchers had achieved considerable success in the enterprise of innovation; and was actively looking for collaborators to help mass produce the outputs.

“We will continue to engage our stakeholders to ensure that our graduates are not only knowledgeable, but also motivated enough to actively scout and implement sustainable solutions to our challenges,” Prof. Ngumi added in a speech read by Dean, School of Mathematical Sciences, Prof. George Orwa.

A section participants follow the Conference opening proceedings

JKUAT has over the years utilized resources entrusted to it by both government and other funding agencies to develop novel technologies that the country could leverage on to leapfrog its development challenges.

Between 2009 and 2016, JKUAT committed a total of Ksh. 233 million in a number of research activities spanning agriculture, engineering, health, ICT, and business, among others.

Some of the innovations from the university include, a multifunction tractor, briquetting machine, solar drier, gold processing machine, macadamia dehusker, and an irrigation management kit.

The conference was also addressed by the Principal College of Engineering and Technology, Dr. Eng. Hiram Ndiritu and the Chair organizing Commitee, Dr. -Ing. James Kimotho. The participants were drawn from Kenya, Korea, Japan, Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa and Egypt.

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