Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in partnership with Kuza Biashara Ltd. are setting up a business mentoring and incubation centre to translate student innovations into viable business outputs. The centre to be based at the Varsity’s main campus will equip over 500 students with entrepreneurship, life and soft skills annually, in readiness for business start-ups.
Speaking during the signing of an agreement to actualize the centre, Kuza Biashara Partnerships and Alliances manager, Joan Mbugua agreed that the initiative will foster translation of student innovations and ideas into businesses.
“We are committed to inject the critical entrepreneurship thinking into the many novel concepts that emerge from JKUAT,” noted Joan.
Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of Research Production and Extension, Prof. Esther Kahangi reported that JKUAT students continue to come up with a number of innovations, most of which end up in what she termed ‘innovations death valley’. To escape the valley, Prof. Kahangi says, the university is incubating a number of student innovations into commercially viable business ventures.
“The Kuza Incubation centre will foster our efforts to turn our innovators into job creators by harnessing innovations into usable products and services,” avers Prof. Kahangi.
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of award ceremony to recognize winners of the 2013 JKUAT Tech Expo; a platform started by the university in 2010, in which students exhibit their creativity and innovations to a panel of judges and industry players.
One of the 2013 winning projects, e-packing, a cashless transaction software which aims at enhancing transparency in payments is currently being piloted in Mombasa County, with promising results.
To ensure protection of intellectual property rights, Kaburo Kobia, Project Manager for Local Digital Content at the Kenya ICT Authority challenged innovators to be proactive in filling for patents and registration of their businesses.
“Once you have identified the audience for the ready innovation, it is time to launch the product,” says Kaburo.
The winners submitted entries in four categories: Agriculture, Embedded Systems, Software engineering and engineering. The winning project in each category walked away with Ksh. 50, 000, second place winners bagged Ksh. 30, 000 while those who emerged third in each category were awarded Ksh. 20, 000.
The ceremony was also attended by Principal College of Engineering, Prof. Bernard Ikua, Dr. Jane Gathenya and Kuza Biashara’s Raj Karthi and Buff Mackenzie.