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KIEP Launches iTATU, an Accelerator Platform to Deepen Entrepreneurship

An initiative known as Ideate, Innovate, Implement or simply iTATU, is a new platform by the Kenya Industry and Entrepreneurship Project (KIEP) under the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry (MITI), supported by the World Bank Group to increase innovation and productivity in select private-sector firms.

The open source platform targets students in tertiary colleges to launch prototypes into the market via partnerships with select companies. iTATU creates nationwide opportunities for local companies to seek partnerships with select student teams towards development of product-specific prototypes, thereby creating an effective path for commercialisation of products and launch of an entrepreneurial journey for the students. This will see companies support innovation of new products through access to relatively low-cost human capital and enable students to gain practical, on-demand skills and workplace experience during their formal education, thereby strengthening the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem in Kenya.

Speaking in Nairobi during the launch, Principal Secretary in the State Department for Industry, Dr Juma Mukhwana said this is an opportunity for corporates to build synergy with students in nurturing an innovation culture at the workplace where solution-oriented initiatives will now become the norm.

“At the cusp of a significant shift in how economies are organised around digital and green transitions, innovation is now more crucial than ever. Emerging countries risk being left behind unless they pay attention to how to create and drive local innovations, and capture the leapfrog opportunities that these new developments present,” he said.

The launch themed “Enhancing industry academia partnerships through open innovation” saw panel discussions from various industry stakeholders take centre stage. They emphasised the value of creating buy-in from both industry and academia. The platform seeks to drive productivity and increase the participating companies’ competitiveness in the market via development of products. iTATU will achieve this by facilitating innovation competitions that will be overseen by the participating companies and carried out by cross-disciplinary student teams in different colleges.

“iTATU is the clinic that Kenyan MSMEs can refer to when they want to tackle challenges. These could be the pain points an organisation is experiencing, wants to see what is on the horizon and thus prepare better for the future. The approach will help companies test how they can deploy new technologies such as Industry 4.0 technologies and also help companies identify talent,” stated by the iTATU Team Lead, Julius Gatune.

KIEP is a US$50 million project that will be implemented by the Ministry of Investments, Trade and Industry (MITI), with support from the World Bank Group over a period ending later this year. It aims to increase innovation and productivity in private sector firms in Kenya by strengthening the private sector (including startups, SMEs, incubators, accelerators, technology boot camp providers, etc.) through financial grants and technical assistance.

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