Lagos Offers Tech Start-ups N250m Seed Capital
By Modupe Gbadeyanka
In line with its vision to achieve a Smart City, the Lagos State government under the leadership of Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, has approved the sum of N250 million seed capital for technology and innovation, tech start-ups and young innovators.
The fund is meant to assist those in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry push their entrepreneurial skills to the next level. It was also stated that the capital will help in conducting researches that would solve issues of national significance.
Mr Sanwo-Olu, speaking on Thursday during the launch of the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), further announced that another $687,000 start-up funds has been set aside for investment in research and development of tech-focused solutions across the six pillars of his administration’s development agenda.
The said the establishment of LASRIC, to be chaired by the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos (UNILAG), Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, as well as the innovation funds, officially begins the process of implementing strategies that would help in the realisation of the Smart City initiative of the state.
He said, “There is no gainsaying the fact that any society that wants to be reckoned with on the global stage must be grounded in the application of technology to growth and development.
“It is gratifying to note that the world has accepted that Lagos as the Silicon Valley of Africa with major investments by Microsoft and Google in the Ikeja-based Computer Village and emerging tech hubs, which have served as launch pads for the digital careers of numerous youths in software development.
“To further expand the opportunities, we are immediately earmarking seed capital of N250 million into Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council to be accessed by tech entrepreneurs and software developers in innovation ecosystem for them to create various solutions from artificial intelligence to robotics, to health informatics and green energy.”
Besides, the Governor also launched Open Government Initiative, Innovation Master Plan and Lagos State Solution Hub to further drive synergy between policymakers in the public sector and innovators in the private sector.
While the Solution Hub is aimed at democratising access to state actors and serving as the first point of call for innovators, solutions providers and innovators on marketing their solutions, the Innovation Master Plan would be focusing on implementation of policies in four critical areas to unleash a culture of problem solving.
Mr Sanwo-Olu said the master plan would be addressing the challenge of access to data and funding for innovations, adding that the plan would also bring about provision of faster Internet broadband that would catalyse talent development.
“Our Open Government Initiative is focused on data access, which is seen as critical for the building blocks of a solutions culture. Open data promotes inclusiveness, participation and more fit-for-purpose solutions. The Open Government initiative has kicked off and we will be communicating subsequent milestones with the public soon,” he said at the Art of Technology (AOT) Lagos 1.0 conference organised by the Office of the Governor’s Special Adviser on Innovation and Technology.
The Governor urged the participants and investors at the event held at Oriental Hotel on Victoria Island, with the theme Bridging the Gap, to leverage on the opportunities provided by the event to synergise and network with other innovators towards develop life changing software that would transform healthcare, agro-business, transportation, food security, housing and education in Lagos.
“It is our goal to foster the gains achieved by the Art of Technology 1.0 to enhance and empower the residents and investors in Lagos,” Mr Sanwo-Olu said.
Convener and Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Technology, Mr Olatunbosun Alake, said the event had the objective to bridge the gap between governance and innovation.
He said the Government and private sector could no longer afford to work in silos, stressing that the public and private sectors must co-create to key into the future.He added that outcomes of the event would bring about enabling policies that would empower Lagos Government to build a sustainable tech and innovation industry.
Also, Commissioner for Science and Technology, Mr Hakeem Fahm, observed that Lagos Government had started to look into the future by “thinking Smart” and using technology as an enabler to realise Smart City status.
The conference also featured panels of discussion with themes focusing on leveraging technology and innovation to providing solutions and services in key sectors of the state’s economy.