NAIROBI, Kenya, May 11 – Four start-ups have secured an opportunity to pilot their innovations at the Konza Technopolis in a bid to provide solutions for the residents and investors setting up at the smart city.
The start-ups, which emerged winners at the just concluded Konza Innovation Challenge 2021 will be seeking to provide various smart solutions for about 30,000 residents expected in the city.
Personal Watchguard, Ekraal Hub and H-Pass businesses from Kenya are expected to pilot their innovations on intelligent asset management, smart parking management and access management respectively. The fourth startup from Israel, Step-Hear – Assistive Accessibility Technology will be offering its services on traffic management.
The Innovation Challenge was jointly hosted by the Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) and Embassy of Israel in Kenya. The challenge, which attracted 99 nominations from Kenya and four from Israel sought to provide an opportunity for innovators in Kenya and Israel to solve the immediate and long-term needs of Konza Technopolis.
Speaking during the awards ceremony, Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs Joe Mucheru lauded the efforts by the innovators, adding that piloting of the innovations at Konza Technopolis was a great milestone for the country as it will not only serve Konza but can be implemented in the rest of the country.
“This is exciting and historic moment in the sector as we are accelerating development by having homegrown solutions to deal with our challenges. As a government, we are glad that today’s innovations will be piloted here at the Technopolis,” said CS Mucheru.
While urging the innovators to keep leveraging on the tech space, CS Mucheru reiterated the government’s commitment towards creating an enabling innovation environment for startups to grow and thrive.
He noted that through government programs such as the National ICT Master Plan, the Constituency Innovation Hubs (CIHs) and the National Broad Band Policy, innovators can make use of the facilities and policies to develop more solutions for the country.
According to African Tech Start-ups Funding Report 2020, Kenyan tech start-ups raised a record amount of funding in 2020, securing a combined total of Ksh 19.1 billion. The Kenyan start-ups industry continues to expand with the acceleration of growth in the digital economy.
Israel Ambassador to Kenya, His Excellency Mr. Oded Joseph echoed CS Mucheru’s sentiments on strengthening collaboration efforts to advance innovation and development in the ICT space between Kenya and Israel. He promised Israel’s continued support towards various initiatives in the country.
“As a country, Israel is honored to be part of Kenya’s innovation journey, and we are happy to compare notes and share ideas. We are happy to be part of the Konza Innovation Challenge,” said Amb. Oded, adding that Kenya has made considerable steps in establishing a more innovation-driven economy.
“Kenya’s start-up ecosystem is vibrant, and quite established in the continent. As the government of Israel, I would like to state that we are proud to be part of this journey and we pledge to continue working with you to build your ICT & Innovation ecosystem for posterity,” he added.
Israel is among the leading countries in the world with the highest density of start-up companies with about one start-up for every 2,000 people.
The Bloomberg Innovation Index of 2021 release in February this year ranked the country at position 7th globally. In 2020 and 2019, the country was ranked position 5th and 6th respectively.
During the event, KoTDA CEO, Eng. John Tanui congratulated the winning start-ups, saying the solutions they have come up with will make a great difference in the country’s first smart city.
The event was also attended by Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) Chairman Arch. Dr. Reuben Mutiso, representatives from Dedan Kimathi University of Technology and Strathmore University, ICT and Innovation officials from Makueni and Kajiado Counties.
Konza has been at the forefront of supporting innovation programs as part of its efforts towards becoming a leading innovation hub in the world.
In 2020, the Technopolis in collaboration with the Association of Countrywide hubs and partners held The Great COVID 19 Innovation challenge which was instrumental in helping to develop solutions in the fight against the global pandemic.
In April 2021, Kenya and Korean Governments signed a contract worth Kshs 9.4 billion towards the establishment of the Kenya Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) that will be constructed at Konza Technopolis.