Kenya Innovation Week 2023: Agriculture is a Blue Ocean, Bearing an Economy of Bundled Services That Need Funding.

The College of Insurance (Edge Convention Centre) played host to the Kenya Innovation Week 2023 (KIW) – Commonwealth Edition, a groundbreaking event organized by the Commonwealth Secretariat in collaboration with the Government of Kenya through the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA), Ministry of Youth Affairs, the Arts and Sports. The five-day engaging event, held from November 27 to December 1, revolved around the theme "Innovating to Unlock our Common Wealth." This edition aimed to harness the power of innovation as a catalyst for societal well-being and wealth creation across Commonwealth Nations.

The primary objectives of the Kenya Innovation Week 2023 were ambitious, reflecting a commitment to fostering collaboration, showcasing innovation, advancing technology adoption, creating new markets, and unlocking common wealth. As the event unfolded, it became evident that these objectives were not mere aspirations but tangible goals achieved through a series of intriguing summits, programs, and projects.

One of the key outcomes was the forging of new inter-regional partnerships to expand the Commonwealth innovation ecosystem. The summit provided a platform for countries to share ideas, expertise, and resources, fostering a collaborative environment that transcends borders. The splash effect of these partnerships is expected to amplify the impact of innovation across diverse sectors.

Entrepreneurship and Start-Ups

The Start-up Summit, a focal point of KIW 2023, successfully showcased the best of start-ups and innovations from Commonwealth countries. Entrepreneurs had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a curated audience of investors, fostering a dynamic marketplace for ideas and capital. This not only propelled promising ventures forward but also laid the foundation for future investment and growth.

Additionally, the Youth and Entrepreneurship Summit brought together young minds from across the Commonwealth, emphasizing the pivotal role of the youth in shaping the future. Discussions ranged from fostering an entrepreneurial mindset to creating an enabling environment for youth-led initiatives. The outcomes included a renewed commitment to supporting youth-driven innovation and entrepreneurship.

The youth need to be aware of what is happening in the market and breakdown information to what the market demands. This will enable them to reinvent the solutions they are offering and go with what is working and generating returns. According to KEPSA, scaling innovation information to the heights economic viability will be a long-term living testament.

It came out loud from Access to Government Procurement Opportunities (AGPO) that 30% of the procurement opportunities goes to women, youth and people living with disability. Equally, 30% of resources goes to women and youth in business. More awareness creation is need to be done to the intended beneficiaries to enjoy such opportunities. It includes the eligibility criteria and application procedures.

Recognition of Young Student Innovators.

The Student-Led Innovations Summit also pampered the event with superb highlights of the creativity and ingenuity of the younger generation. Students from various disciplines presented innovative projects, demonstrating the potential of cross-disciplinary collaboration in solving complex challenges. This summit served as a reminder of the untapped potential within educational institutions.

Climate Action and Agri-Tech Summits

In the face of global climate challenges, the Climate Action Summit emerged as a beacon of hope. The summit addressed pressing environmental concerns and explored innovative solutions to mitigate climate change. This pavilion facilitated forging of collaborations between governments, businesses, and environmentalists to accelerate the transition to a sustainable and resilient future.

Agriculture, a cornerstone of many Commonwealth economies, took center stage at the Agri-Tech Summit. The discussions centered around leveraging technology to enhance agricultural productivity, promote sustainability, and ensure food security. The summit not only showcased cutting-edge innovations but also paved the way for appeal to more collaborations that could transform the agricultural landscape, especially from starting AgTech companies and Organizations.

Agriculture is a blue ocean, bearing an economy of bundled services that need funding like sectors such as FinTech in order to customize solutions for the farmers. This will enable organizations and institutions to decentralize solutions to farmers guided by real-time data. In his statement, Vincent Koech from Optimetriks pointed out that we need to incentivize the farmers to adopt the improved solutions based data collected from them and as such will increase the uptake of technology since they will realize the payoff of their efforts towards  data contribution.

AgriTech Innovations Distribution in Africa. Source: Nuvoni Centre fir Innovation Research presentation.

The reality of how startups struggle to be on feet was also spotlighted. “A lot of the startups struggle because they don’t create an ecosystem that is auxiliary to their solutions to build permanency of impact.” Dr Elsie Onsongo is the Director of Nuvoni Centre for Innovation Research Outlined. Empathy mapping and design thinking are armors that must be relied on in creating user centric solutions to farmers. In her key note presentation, she also noted that most startups are below the radar because of untapped data utility they possess, driving the country to latitude of more of consumers than producers.  

To wrap the Agritech Summit, voice of the farmer implored on the need to go basic as Agrarian Revolution such as tapping on irrigation using digital solutions and scale up to other sophisticated solutions. This will guarantee sustainable food production and availability.

Beyond the summits

The Kenya Innovation Week 2023 witnessed the launch of significant programs and projects. The AfDB - Kenya Innovation Fund aims to provide financial support to innovative ventures with the potential for high social and economic impact.

The Kenya 10-Year Innovation Masterplan. Photo: KIW

Simultaneously, Kenya's 10-year Innovation Master Plan was launched during this auspicious event. This masterplan outlines a strategic roadmap to position the country as a hub for innovation in the region a framework approach towards the creation of a sustainable knowledge economy in Kenya to support the mission of transforming Kenya into an industrializing, middle income country providing a high quality of life to all its citizens by the year 2030. Science, Technology & Innovation has been recognized as essential to the attainment of our nation’s socio-economic development as envisioned by Kenya Vision 2030.

In conclusion, the outcomes of the Kenya Innovation Week 2023 – Commonwealth Edition reflect a resounding success in achieving its objectives. The event not only facilitated collaboration but also showcased the transformative power of innovation in addressing societal challenges. As the initiatives launched during the week gain momentum, the Commonwealth nations are poised to unlock their common wealth through sustained innovation and collaboration.

For more information contact: