Innovation week opens in Kenya to boost startups

NAIROBI, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The second Kenya Innovation Week kicked off in Nairobi, Kenya's capital Tuesday to reinforce the country's competitiveness as a global destination for enterprises.

The four-day event brought together over 100 exhibitors from around the world to showcase their latest innovations.

In his opening remarks, Kenyan President William Ruto said that the country is developing relevant policies that will nurture and stimulate innovation in the east African nation. "This is in appreciation that innovation has the power to accelerate productivity, generate gainful employment, and create wealth for millions of ordinary people."

The Kenya Innovation Week is a forum designed as a platform for building bridges and synergies between government, academia, the private sector as well as the informal sector to advance the national innovation system.

Ruto said that the forum is an ideal vehicle where promising startups get connected with investors and funders and where relevant policy engagements on innovations are championed.

The Kenyan leader noted that the country's legislators are currently in the process of enacting a startup bill that will help scale up and de-risk startups to provide them with an opportunity to grow into large enterprises.

Tonny Omwansa, CEO of the state-owned Kenya National Innovation Agency (KENIA) said that the innovation forum aims to strengthen the country's research and commercialization practices for greater socio-economic impact.

Omwansa observed that the innovation platform will also play a key role in supporting the development, incubation, and acceleration of innovative enterprises that will enhance job creation and economic transformation.

He revealed that KENIA has set an ambitious goal of creating five million new jobs over the next five years through nurturing startups that emerge from innovative ideas by students, youth, and researchers.

"This will be achieved through identifying viable ideas in national priority sectors such as agriculture, healthcare, and clean energy," he added.

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