UNILAG unveils project ‘Innovation to Market’
In its efforts at empowering innovators and researchers in the country to take their products to the market, the University of Lagos (UNILAG) has unveiled its Innovation to Market (I2M) project. It is an initiative funded by UKAID’s Research and Innovation System for Africa (RISA).
The I2M is meant to nurture innovations at various stages, by providing training, incubation, mentorship, advisory, funding, patenting company and tax registration and industry linkage needed to commercialise researches that solve societal problems.
The project prioritises innovations from Nigerian youths, women and Persons With Disability (PWD). It is tailored to create pathways and channels for innovations to get to the market.
The Vice chancellor, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, in his address at the launch held at the Faculty of Social Sciences auditorium, said in a world driven by constant change and technological advancements, innovation becomes the key to success for individuals, businesses, and entire economies.
Ogunsola noted that innovation is the lifeblood that fuels growth, creates jobs, and improves the quality of life for people around the globe. The VC, however, lamented that despite the abundance of brilliant ideas, many innovators face significant hurdles when it comes to turning their concepts into viable commercial ventures.
“One of the critical strengths of I2M lies in its holistic approach. It takes into account the multifaceted nature of innovation, recognising that success requires more than just a brilliant idea. Through this programme, participants will have access to a wide range of services, which will empower innovators to navigate the complex journey from ideation to market launch.
“By encouraging participants to develop solutions that align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the nation’s challenges, this programme paves the way for innovations that not only drive economic growth but also contribute to a more equitable and sustainable future,” Ogunsola stated.
She expressed hope that the project would be a catalyst for change, unlocking the potential of countless innovators, revolutionising industries and making Nigeria a net-producing economy.
The country manager of RISA, Alice Omisere, said the initiative would bridge the knowledge gap by providing robust learning resources on how to innovate and translate research outputs into the market.
She added that the project would also bridge the access gap by making resources, equipment and facilities required to make innovations market ready. Omisere said the project would create pathways and channels for innovations to get to the market.
The West Africa Research and Innovation team lead of the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO), Leane Jones, said Britain would continue to partner with institutions on research and innovation, adding that it has already developed partnerships with UNILAG and Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund).
Jones disclosed that the project has brought stakeholders, including the universities, policymakers and RISA together as a sign of their commitment to promote innovation and create opportunities.
Executive Secretary of National Universities Commission (NUC), Abubakar Rasheed, said the commission would encourage tertiary institutions to establish new academic programmes in the area of innovation.
Rasheed, who was represented by the Director of Skills and Development, Mr. Aladan Ashafa also disclosed that the commission is working with the private sector to ensure products from innovation and research get to the market.
Acting Director of Innovation and Technology Management Office (ITMO), Dr. Abiodun Gbenga-Ilori, said many innovators are trying to translate their ideas but are finding it difficult to progress, which is what I2M is out to solve.
Gbenga-Ilori said about 800 innovators are expected to key into 12M, pointing out that 225 of them with Minimum Viable Products (MVP) would be supported to actualise their dreams.
She also announced plans to partner with hubs, research institutes and private sector to train the innovators and mentor them, while I2M would provide the needed logistics.