SPEECH REMARKS BY PROF.LUCY IRUNGU, THE VICECHANCELLOR MACHAKOS UNIVERSITY

 DURING THE INNOVATION ECOSYSTEM INITIATIVE

AT ARMPHITHEATRE MACHAKOS CAMPUS

27-11-2018

All protocols observed

Good morning.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Let me start by recognizing our very important visitors with us today:

  • The Chairman, Konza Technopolis Development Authority Dr. Architecture Reuben Mutiso
  • The CEO of Konza Technopolis Development Authority, Eng. John Tanui
  • The officials from Huawei and ITEC

Feel welcomed.

Let me also acknowledge the presence of the management and staff of Machakos University present.

Allow me also to appreciate our students for coming and sparing their valuable time to attend this very important forum.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We are here not only to kick start the Innovation Ecosystem Initiative  but to chart the way forward for future engagement between Machakos University and important players of industry on innovation matters. As a university, we are grateful to Konza Technopolis Development Authority, Huawei and ITEC who are here today. We have cordial partnership with Konza Technopolis Development Authority and Huawei, and this forum is a realization of the aspirations in the MoUs we have signed in the past.

The concept of innovation ecosystem

Ladies and Gentlemen

For one to understand the concept behindan innovation ecosystem”, we must draw from the biological ecosystem analogy as observed in nature. The biological ecosystem is a system that includes all living organisms in an area as well as its physical environments functioning together as a unit. Similarly in our case, the innovation ecosystem we have in mind is different and yet functioning on the same concept.

The innovation ecosystem we have on the table comprises of two distinct economies, the research economy, which is driven by fundamental research, and the commercial economy, which is driven by the marketplace- the enterprise and the industry players. I must say that, by design, the two economies are weakly coupled because the resources invested in the research economy must be derived from the commercial sector, which is yet not the same in Kenya.

The aim of this initiative forum therefore is to fast track and actualize this relationship. On one hand the research economy driven by the institutional entities participating in the ecosystem (e.g. the universities, research entities etc) and on the other hand, the commercial economy, the consumers of knowledge and  research output, driven by industry and the market. These two dimensions should work together.

 

The need to develop the innovation ecosystem

 

The importance of establishing Innovation Ecosystem Initiative cannot be downplayed. All of us have heard of the miracle Silicon Valley in the US. It is believed that this famous valley is the father of all innovation ecosystems one can think of. I believe Konza Technopolis was established on the same narrative as Silicon Valley was: to create a technology hub, a creativity enabling environment, hence an innovation ecosystem.

According to Schumpeter, innovation is “the introduction of new or significantly improved products processes, organizational methods and marketing methods in either internal business practices or the market place”. Innovation is believed to be the fundamental source of significant wealth creation within an economy.  There are two ways to increase economic output within an economy: to increase the number of inputs in the productive process or to think of new ways to get more output from the same number of inputs, hence the concept of innovation. An innovation ecosystem brings relevant players together to fulfil this.

In conclusion, our part as university in the ecosystem is to provide the knowledge and research output for the industry. We wish to have entities within the ecosystem help the university in developing specific technologies for the industry whereas the industry should avail resources to us to advance the research.

Thank you, and may God bless you.