Makerere University Innovation Pod officially opened

Makerere University Innovation Pod officially opened
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A state-of-the-art innovation Pod at Makerere University constructed with funds from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) under its Timbuktoo initiative has officially been opened.

The First Lady and Minister for Education and Sports, Janet Museveni represented by the Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, Dr.Monica Musenero together with the Assistant Secretary General, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director Regional Bureau for Africa Ahunna Eziakonwa officially opened the facility.

Speaking at the ceremony, Dr. Monica Musenero said the facility will help support government’s goal of making product that impact society.

“This facility  will ensure science delivers the development that Uganda and Africa at large have longed for,” Musenero said.

She added that it will help drive  the commercialization of innovations and enterprises resulting from the research undertaken by scholars and students at the university.

“Unless you convert ideas into industrial, they will remain micro, internal and basically non job generating except for a few individuals. The last bit is commercialization by selling the products on internal and external markets. We must be working towards putting products in the hands of customers for consumption and that is where sustainability comes from. This calls for conversion of ideas into industries,” Dr.Musenero said.

The Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa, Ahunna Eziakonwa said the UniPod has been established by the Timbuktoo Initiative which is a joint initiative of UNDP and Africa Influencers for Development (AI4D).

“Timbuktoo represents a commitment to leverage and catalyze current opportunities in Africa’s startup space and by doing so ensure a sustainable, inclusive, and transformational outcome for youth innovation entrepreneurs in Africa. At its core, Timbuktoo is a revolutionary private-public Youth Startup innovation financing facility for Africa. Timbuktoo was officially launched on 16th January 2024 in Ice Village, Davos at the sidelines of the World Economic Forum,” Eziakonwa said.

She noted that Timbuktoo is inspired by Africa’s great civilization story and heritage which is embodied in the remarkable history of Timbuktoo, the birthplace of one of the oldest universities in the world.

“The Timbuktoo specific objectives are to raise a USD 1 billion youth innovation financing facility, aimed at achieving 1,000 high-growth startup enterprises scaled across the continent, 50 million livelihoods improved directly and/or indirectly and USD 10 billion value creation over 10 years.”

“Timbuktoo is designed to follow a hub-and-spoke model and will focus on ecosystem approaches in strategically selected hubs located in various cities across the continent; as well as University Innovation Pods in carefully selected public universities.”

According to officials, the UniPod is equipped with high-end equipment to leverage research for development through nurturing the innovation ecosystem in Uganda.

The facility  has been designed to provide university students and youths outside the university with a maker space that provides service to both engineering as well as creative design projects, with a standard set of equipment and design labs that offer a host of programs in design thinking, and support students and youths to apply design principles toward solving any problem they are tackling.

It will also provide collaborative working space  to develop business ideas and host product demos, training events, speaker talks, and other community and collaboration building events  as well as a technology transfer office that brings research developments to the market, and bridging research with industry.

Makerere University and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) will work out a modality of operations that suits both students within the University and youths outside the University.

The Makerere University Vice Chancellor Makerere University Prof. Barnabus Nawangwe applauded  UNDP for investing in the university’s research for development and pledged to maintain the facility to function well in order to churn out enterprises and companies that will contribute to the country’s economy.

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