The Ministry of Innovation & Technology has set up a six-million-birr incubation centre to encourage innovators in the technology sector. The centre, located in the Tracon Building on Churchill Avenue, will be used to provide training to students selected from universities and technical schools.
The selection criteria are demonstrated talent, motivation in developing new technology and starting up new companies using the innovation. The centre has an enrollment capacity of 30 trainees at a time.
"We're doing all we can to enhance the technology advancement in the country," Tadesse Ambessaw, director of the incubation development administration at the Ministry, told Fortune.
The innovation centre features fast internet access and laptops, as well as rooms and recreational areas.
The rental fee for the facility is 2.8 million Br a year, and selected students will receive financial support of 100 Br a day from the government for the duration of the three-month program, at which time they are expected to finalise their proposals.
The Ministry intends to create business linkages with different local and international markets. It is also trying to work in partnership with different technology companies and private incubation centres who have signed collaboration agreements to raise efficiency in the sector.
The Ministry of Innovation & Technology has set up a six-million-birr incubation centre to encourage innovators in the technology sector.
Indian and American Embassies, BF Institute of Technology Plc and IdeaSave, a non-profit technology organization, are among the collaborators with the Ministry. Local private incubation centres like Bluemoon and universities are the other stakeholders.
In the future, all universities will have their own incubation centres, according to Shumet Gizaw, state minister of Innovation Development and Research,
"The students should finalize their projects in their own university," Shumet said.
Currently, 20 innovators, seven of whom are female, have been selected to start the practical training, which will be conducted by experts from universities as well as technology companies.
In addition to the innovation centre, the other strategy the Ministry is using to support the sector is renting out sheds in industrial parks to provide space for the new startups. They have already leased a 1,700Sqm shed in Bole Lemi Industrial Park.
The Ministry pays three dollars a square meter in monthly rental fees. "We are having discussions to add Adama Industrial Park soon," Shumet told Fortune.
The Ministry is revising its 15-year-old policy in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade & Development (UNCTAD).
"The recent revision is focused on incubation centre expansion," Shumet added.
The revision focuses on developing technology and minimising the unemployment rate by creating a better platform for innovators. Last year 19pc of the economically active population in the county was unemployed.
The new policy will be focusing on 24 sectors including agriculture, textiles and information technology. Hence, the UN agency is assessing 50 sectors including SMEs, manufacturing and foreign direct investment that need to be digitised.
UNCTAD has been undertaking similar projects of reviewing science, technology and innovation policies in 13 countries including Rwanda and Kenya since 2007.
Gadisa Desalegn is one of the graduate students from Jimma University who is working at the new incubation centre. He is designing a plastic recycling machine in collaboration with three friends.
"This is a golden opportunity for me," Gadisa told Fortune.
Eleni Gabremedhin (PhD), an advocate of innovation centres and the head of the private incubation centre Bluemoon, appreciates the move of the Ministry.
Eleni says those who come up with better innovations can convert their ideas into big businesses.
"This is the big move we need to have the best innovators and even to boost technology and the economy," Eleni told Fortune. "However, the Ministry needs to work in closer collaboration with private institutions and incubation centres."
PUBLISHED ON Feb 09,2019 [ VOL 19 , NO 980]
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