Some of the innovators in a group photo with some of the key partners at the launch of Uganda Innovation Week on Tuesday (PHOTO/Nelson Mandela).
KAMPALA – Formerly Kampala Innovation Week (KIW), has scaled up to include participation from across the country and consequently rebranded to Uganda Innovation Week (UIW), with a focus on the entire country.
The Week was launched on Tuesday at OUTBOX Hub –Soliz House.
This, according to Startup Uganda is geared towards bringing together all actors within the startup ecosystem this year promises more inclusivity, a wider reach, and a general country-wide movement.
Consequently, Startup Uganda will host the annual Innovation Week from the 22nd to the 24th of November 2022 at Mestil Hotel in Kampala under the theme Uganda’s Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Unlocking the Missing Links.
“The country’s innovation landscape stretches far beyond just the city of Kampala, and we thought it was high-time the innovation week actively recognized that,” says Jean K. Makki, Vice Chairperson, Startup Uganda.
“We are looking to get startup ecosystem stakeholders from all across the country involved in the crucial discussions we will be having at Uganda Innovation Week, and this move towards inclusivity will assist with that agenda,” he added.
The re-brand to UIW represents an active effort to include startup ecosystem stakeholders from across the country in conversations on the future of entrepreneurship in Uganda. The context for such discussions will improve to include factors specific to entrepreneurs in some of the more rural areas, such as internet connectivity, access to infrastructure and more.
The experts say that despite the growth of the startup ecosystem in Uganda, there are still several gaps to bridge in order to augment the development of viable, market-ready enterprises and the ability of relevant stakeholders to support said enterprises adequately.
Therefore, the three-day event is intended to identify some of these missing links and facilitate conversations on possible ways to eradicate these issues.
“One track will focus on links between academia and industry and highlight how a strong connection between the two has enabled startup ecosystems worldwide to thrive and progress. Another track will highlight some of the current gaps in women’s entrepreneurship, such as the fact that despite recent statistics highlighting women as the larger percentage of entrepreneurs in the country, the number of women-owned businesses that scale up or attract funding remains significantly low. The final track will explore the missing links in investment and financing for entrepreneurs.”
Key partners for UIW 2022 include; The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and the National Social Security Fund (NSSF) as platinum partners and in the gold category, The International Trade Center (ITC) and Village Capital.
Richard Ndahiro from United Nations Capital Development Fund said: “Our relationship with Startup Uganda has been one of the fact that we recognize the role they play in growing Uganda’s Startup ecosystem.”
“As UN agency, one of our big roles is to see if we can convene various actors towards the common goal in ecosystem. Every challenge is a good trigger for innovation. We are looking towards innovators to find ways of working around law levels literacy to get less literate to these innovations,” he said.
The event is set to feature panel discussions, workshops and masterclasses where startup ecosystem stakeholders can contribute to theme conversations and evening fireside events that will allow for peer engagement, partnership formation and networking. The best and brightest in the Ugandan startup space will also feature, with a dedicated exhibition space running on all three event days. The event agenda will also include report and program launches all geared towards identifying and providing solutions to the missing links within Uganda’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
In the spirit of reaching entrepreneurs outside of the capital city, Startup Uganda is running a video challenge, #iInnovateBecause, that will allow shortlisted entrepreneurs from across the country to attend the event in person and engage with different thought leaders, mentors, and fellow entrepreneurs. The event will also feature the Startup Uganda annual awards, that recognize the most innovative startups in 2022, nominated and voted by the public. Nominations for the best startups in health, education, creative industries, technology, agriculture, the best university innovation, and the leading support enterprises are officially open.