African Innovation Foundations signs MoU with Botswana Innovation Hub to commercialize innovations, strengthen innovation ecosystems
The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) today signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) to officialise their partnership aiming at strengthening ecosystems and commercializing innovations in Botswana, as well as promoting a culture of entrepreneurship across the country. The agreement was signed by Alan Boshwaen, Chief Executive Officer, BIH and Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) Director at the AIF.
The MoU follows Botswana hosting the successful 2016 edition of the IPA wherein, the country, through key organizations such as BIH, demonstrated strong commitment towards building its national innovation ecosystems and supporting home-grown innovation. The MoU is an extension of the collaboration established in June last year and will focus on four areas:
Develop an effective national competition and robust BIH process for vetting innovations and mobilizing IPA applicants
Support the national systems of innovation
Build capacity of local innovators and broaden existing networks and
Mobilize resources to implement selected activities.
Celebrating the strategic partnership, at the ongoing Entrepreneurship Conference organised by ABM University College in Gaborone, Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, commented: “AIF looks forward to supporting BIH in its efforts to strengthen the innovation landscape in Botswana and to develop mechanisms that enable local innovators to achieve scale and commercial viability. BIH has taken significant strides in developing local capacity and we are delighted to welcome them into AIF’s Pan-African network of innovation enablers working to unleash the potential of African innovators.
Alan Boshwaen is enthusiastic about this new agreement, noting that this partnership is timely as BIH is in the process of launching the Botswana Innovation Hub Fund, a seed-fund aimed at commercializing viable innovations locally. Mr Boshwaen stated: "the adoption of the IPA process of vetting innovation will bring credibility to our innovation fund process."
Mobilizing local innovators
BIH will work with AIF towards building a robust screening process and mobilising local innovators across the country based on a rigorous selection process. A series of workshops and events will be organised at a national level to leverage the strategic collaborative efforts. IPA platforms will be engaged to connect Botswana innovators with other innovators across Africa. In addition, AIF will support BIH in developing a vetting process for an effective national innovation competition program.
Supporting National Systems of Innovation
Crucial to innovation, the partnership aims to connect existing local initiatives involved in supporting innovators and entrepreneurs, and establishing strategic collaboration and linkages between Science Technology and Innovation (STI) policies, academic institutes and the wider industry based on AIF’s vast network and knowledge within this space. In addition, this partnership will contribute to further development of the national systems of innovation through local interventions to support innovation e.g. competitions, keynote addresses, workshops, and engagement on social media.
Building capacity and broadening networks
To encourage new innovators, BIH will evaluate possibilities to incubate local innovators who achieve the highest screening level during the IPA competition. AIF will also set up an innovation community for BIH on ZuaHub, allowing them to interact with other innovators and access available resources at Pan-African level.
The partnership will endeavour to establish new innovation linkages, map out relevant opportunities and share information pertaining to resources and investor prospects at a Pan-African and international level, and ascertain collaborative methods to access them.
The MoU will enable Botswana to exchange experiences on innovation and Intellectual Property (IP), which substantially benefit entrepreneurs, investors and businesses that will be commissioned in the BIH Science and Technology Park.
This newly established co-operation is another important step in marking AIF’s commitment towards realising untapped potential in Africa and to be a mobilizer and facilitator for innovation-led growth across the continent.