Engaging Creative ...

Edward Mungai (KCIC Next Big Thing)Edward Mungai (KCIC Next Big Thing)

Engaging Creative Kenyan Minds for Innovation

In order to catalyze on pioneering ideas and inspire the next generation of Kenyan innovators, the Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) partnered with Nation Media Group’s Business Daily publication as a sponsor for the special category in The Next Big Thing competition.

The Kenya Climate Innovation Center (KCIC) was a key sponsor for the Renewable Energy, Agribusiness and Water Sanitation categories of The Next Big Thing competition. The KCIC’s strong support of clean technology innovators is a key aspect of its objective to foster home-grown solutions to address climate change worldwide. The aim of the competition, organized by the Business Daily, was to support entrepreneurs, by providing a unique platform for them to present their business ideas to investors. In addition, it exposed entrepreneurs to opportunities for business linkages and mentorship.

This year the competition received over 2000 applications across all 13 categories: (1) Agribusiness; (2) Business and Professional Services; (3) ICT; (4) Marketing and Communications; (5) Manufacturing and Construction; (6) Transport and Logistics; (7) Eco tourism; (8) Arts; (9) Sports; (10) Health; (11) Water and Sanitation; (12) Energy; and (13) Media and Entertainment. After a 5-month long selection process, nine finalists emerged to pitch their ideas to a panel of judges on February 20, 2013 at the Nairobi Safari Park Hotel.

Samson Gichia (right), Managing Director of Cobitech and Larry Madowo (left) from Nation Media Group during Finalists’ Presentation

The  stage was set for startups to compete for possible funding opportunities. The KCIC team was highly involved in the competition’s selection process. The team members present were Edward Mungai, KCIC Chief Executive Officer; Kennedy Mayende, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Manager; Ernest Chitechi, the Outreach and Partnership Manager; and David Njugi, the Representative for Strathmore University. After a thorough selection process, Sema Kenyaand Cobitech Limited were chosen as the Next Big Thing winners from the KCIC-sponsored categories. 

Sema Kenya is a business enterprise that focuses on resolving the fluoride content problem in Kenya’s water supply, for instance, in the Rift Valley region, where the water has caused many major public health issues. In order to address the challenge of access to clean water, Sema Kenya created a domestic “defluoridator” that uses a local bone char technology to effectively eliminate fluoride from water. This technology has provided an innovative solution for Kenyans living in the affected areas to gain access to clean and safe drinking water.

Cobitech Limited specializes in biogas technology. In contrast with firewood and charcoal, biogas has emerged as a viable, cost-efficient and environmentally sustainable alternative for cooking fuel. Cobitech seeks to harness this technology, and generate electricity from a 2.5 megawatt biogas plant that will in tandem produce high quality fertilizers as a by-product.

In addition to over 30 existing clients, the KCIC will help both Sema Kenya and Cobitech improve each company’s prototype, standardize their products, assist in obtaining patent for the inventions, help launch their products into the market, refine their business plans and seek seed funding for the companies.

The KCIC aims to support innovators whose ventures will advance the knowledge and action agenda on climate change issues. In addition to a range of competitive financing opportunities, KCIC supports innovative entrepreneurs through a dynamic set of services: training, mentorship, access to information and incubation facilities. The KCIC also works with government agencies to create an enabling regulatory and policy framework, as well as providing guidelines for the patenting and standardization of products. The Climate Innovation Centers (CICs) are the flagship initiative of Climate Technology Program (CTP) designed by infoDev (a global partnership Program of the World Bank with support from Donors) whose objective is to support green growth through strengthened domestic capacity and financing for the transfer, development and deployment of innovative climate solutions. The Kenya CIC is the first of seven global CICs and is set up with support from the Governments of Denmark and the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID). It is implemented by a consortium comprising Strathmore University, Pricewaterhousecoopers (PwC) Global Village Energy Partnership (GVEP) and Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI). 

Pictured above, Edward Mungai, KCIC Chief Executive Officer, addresses guests and competition finalists.

Photos courtesy of Kenya Climate Innovation Center

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