It has been an interesting ten years that has seen technological innovations emerge, with some gaining immense traction and putting Kenya on the map. The result of this has been the creation of new businesses layered on top of these innovations resulting in compelling mashups and service offerings.
As we get into 2011, I believe that the next round of tech innovations will grow out of multi disciplinary engagements with ties to learning institutions. Local universities have been falling all over themselves recreating courses and syllabus to address market demand for emerging technologies, biggest of which in the recent past has been mobile.
While the efforts are indeed commendable, what I have noticed in the market is a replication syndrome that sees many alumni branch out and create different versions of similar concepts, whether packaged as standalone services or under the umbrella of a registered company.
From my interaction with this newly minted ideaforce – a different take on workforce, I have arrived at the conclusion that there is still a lot of tunnel vision learning that is happening at our institutions. The mind is not stretched sufficiently to take a different look at Africa’s issues and develop scalable end to end solutions.
What I look forward to, is a meeting of minds at both student and teacher level in our local universities that will ensure the physics student gets an opportunity to bounce off ideas and concepts with counterparts from the agriculture and computer science courses. Toss in a mix of private sector partnerships and interactions as well. The resultant idea banks I believe will birth exciting new services that will address pressing needs that in their very nature will be scalable.
This will also benefit from research and development support that can only be found and funded at the institutions of learning that have the structures to support and attract such initiatives. As the startup funding environment is still at its infancy in Kenya, this is a major plus that both learning institutions and their enterprising students can leverage.
I would like to see more universities invest in the ideas that their student create, and build platforms that will encourage multidisciplinary engagement. Instead of alumni heading off to seek employment or to start their own ventures, perhaps this new take on things will see them stay on for another year or two, further researching and refining their ideas.
Herein lies the key to our new market innovation disruption.