Technology is the key driver to fast-growing economies globally, creating smart economies with technology-driven innovative solutions, leading to the creation of new jobs that previously never existed.
This idea of a technology-driven growth is the key motivation for Chief Executive Officer and founder of Eko Innovation Centre, Victor Afolabi to develop a new innovation centre for the incubation of startups in Lagos – the heart of the country’s economy.
Tech hubs are a vital part of the entire start-ups ecosystems by providing platforms and opportunities for collaborations and building support structures that are important to the growth of new startups. Lagos, over the last few years has become one of Africa’s city with a robust tech ecosystem; it is currently the city with the highest number of technology hubs on the continent.
It is in keeping up with this fast-growing paradigm of technology driven economies, that the new Eko Innovation Centre was launched on Tuesday, 28th May 2019, aimed at discovering, incubating and curating new startups that will create new technological-driven solutions and add more value to an already growing tech ecosystem on the continent. The primary objective being to transform the tech and innovation landscape in Nigeria and by extension, Africa.
According to the founder, the motivation was the need to create an enabling environment for young people to develop innovative solutions and create employment while leveraging on technology, and for him, Lagos provides the perfect setting to launch this idea.
“We saw in the Lagos manifesto an agenda to make the State a 21st century economy. The only way to create a 21st century economy is to make sure you are creating businesses and solution to problems that are driven by innovation and technology,” he said during the launch of the centre.
It will be noted that Nigeria recorded the highest growth of tech hubs in Africa, expanding by 40% in 2 years between 2016 and 2018.
Eko Innovation Centre is designed not just to add to the growing figures of local tech hubs, but to provide a much-required platform for startups to scale through the challenges of their incubation period – a bold and audacious initiative for the country’s tech community.
A Game Changing Initiative
Most of the existing technology centres and hubs primarily provide workspaces and basic facilities including power and internet services, with a few more providing support platforms for the growth of the startups operating from there.
Eko Innovation Centre will provide shared services including legal, finance, tech, marketing, and PR services among others. And most importantly, Mr. Afolabi says, the centre will provide investment readiness services as well as funding for the startups.
This means that startups that are admitted will have the time to focus on their businesses and are not worn out by bureaucracy, as the hub will essentially take up most of the bureaucratic processes, allowing the businesses focus more on the success of their ventures – a game-changer for potential start-ups.
For most Nigerian startups, the stage between concept to commercialization is mostly the defining stage of the journey, where many eventually get it wrong. EIC is simply saying, “focus on building your products and business, while we take care of the other things for you!”
The new Lagos state governor, Mr. Babatunde Sanwo-Olu also graced the occasion of the launch – the building of the hub was his former campaign office, to endorse the initiative and reiterate his administration’s commitment to leveraging on technology in delivering the megacity dream.
In his short statement, Mr. Sanwo-Olu said, “Technology is the way to go, it is the way of the future and it is the way the entire universe is going to, and everybody is using technology to develop everything that we need. We believe that from here, things around the THEME concept that has to do with the environment, education, transportation and health innovations would be developed. People from here would come and give us innovative ideas to solve our transport problem; ideas with which they think locally but act globally.” It is important to note however, that the Eko Innovation Centre is a private investment, to run independent, without any government funding.
In conclusion, the opening of the centre is a welcome development to add to the growing technology ecosystem in the country and it is expected that it will run with full steam once to deliver the vision of the founder.