Nairobi to Host Second Edition of InnovateNBO in August


By Reporter

The Nairobi City County has initiated the second edition of InnovateNBO Tech Week, aiming to transform the city into a prominent center of innovation within Africa. This year’s event, themed “Innovation for all: shaping a future driven by technology with limitless opportunities,” follows the success of its inaugural edition last year. The primary goal remains fostering economic prospects for startups and the broader tech community.

The inaugural InnovateNBO tech week in 2023 attracted over 1,500 delegates, featured 50 startups securing deals, showcased over 40 event speakers, and hosted a comprehensive hackathon. Additionally, it drew the participation of 10 international startups.

In 2024, InnovateNBO endeavors to exhibit cutting-edge innovations, stimulate substantial economic activity, and facilitate job creation across various sectors. Its broader objectives include positioning Nairobi as a premier tech hub and fortifying the local startup ecosystem.

During the launch event in Nairobi, Mike Gumo, the Digital Economy and Innovation CECM, emphasized that the tech week symbolizes the county’s dedication to nurturing an environment conducive to idea incubation and tangible solution creation, ultimately enhancing livelihoods. He underscored the “Let’s Make Nairobi Work” manifesto, which prioritizes fostering a city characterized by prosperity and opportunities.

Gumo highlighted the Governor’s vision to develop a smart Nairobi by decentralizing services, enhancing infrastructure quality, ensuring accessible healthcare, improving public transportation, and cultivating an environment conducive to economic growth.

He emphasized that InnovateNBO Tech Week signifies a pivotal step toward establishing Nairobi as a leading hub of tech innovation. Over time, the city has evolved into a vibrant ecosystem for technology and entrepreneurship, witnessing the emergence of pioneering startups, transformative technology, and a thriving community fueled by creativity and innovation.

Gumo reiterated that InnovateNBO serves as a platform for collaboration and investment, empowering innovators and bolstering entrepreneurial endeavors.
Governor Sakaja’s advisor on Innovation and Digital Economy, George Musyoka, expressed that the event will unite the most brilliant minds and innovative ideas, all aimed at propelling the city forward.

“Nairobi has long been acknowledged as a vibrant African hub of innovation. The launch of Innovate NBO Tech Week 2024 reflects the tireless efforts, commitment, and forward-thinking approach of our communities and the county government as a whole,” he remarked.

“Today, we stand at the forefront of a digital revolution where technology’s influence is reshaping our lifestyles, work patterns, and social interactions.”

“Through Innovate NBO, the innovation and digital economy sector of Nairobi City County intends to spotlight the remarkable talent and groundbreaking solutions originating right here in Nairobi.”

CEO of the Association of Startups and SMEs Enablers of Kenya (ASSEK), Mercy Kimalat, emphasized the necessity for intentional collaboration among stakeholders in the tech ecosystem.

“As an association, our imperative is to foster dialogue on policy matters within the ecosystem. To cultivate an innovative and inclusive environment, we must establish appropriate policy and regulatory frameworks,” she stated.

“We are still engaging in discussions regarding the Startup and Robotics Bill, and it’s crucial for diverse voices to be heard to ensure inclusivity. Let’s translate the concept of collaboration into tangible action.”

“As ASSEK, we have entrusted our members to spearhead various initiatives because of their diverse expertise and extensive networks with different stakeholders. This approach aims to ensure that Innovate NBO becomes a flagship model embraced by other counties.”

Key outcomes from the inaugural edition included talent development in the tech sector, the inception of local smart city solutions, and the digitalization of the Jua Kali sector.

Last year, Governor Sakaja outlined plans to establish hackerspaces for youth at City Hall.

Reflecting on progress thus far, Gumo mentioned that building these spaces will require time. Currently, the county has established a communal area where over 100 youths can convene, located at the Nairobi Charter Hall, situated between the County Executive and the County Assembly.

“We’ve also embraced 10-20 innovations showcased during the first InnovateNBO edition,” Gumo noted. “Many are in the onboarding process, undergoing trials and assessments based on sectoral needs and growth trajectories.”

Gumo added that they’ve gleaned valuable insights from the first edition and anticipate a larger, more impactful community-oriented tech week, with increased participation from partners and attendees.

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