Monday, April 8, 2024

UoN students from ten (10) faculties formed teams and participated in a highly contested activity dubbed, ‘Faculty Mega Hackathon’ where the participating teams consisted of a maximum of five (5) students. They each came up with brave ideas to solve challenges facing societies and organizations. The Thirty-two (32) teams won out of the sixty-nine (69) teams that were participating. The teams are set to battle it out at the 9th Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) themed ‘Strengthening the Innovation Ecosystem through Government-Industry-Academia-Community Linkages for Sustainable Development’. The top five (5) winning teams included: Move na Songa, Climate Guard, Letra Wind, BM Tech and respectively.

The three-day event dived into various discussions and activities including Business model canvas workshop and Mentorship, Design thinking Workshop, pitching workshop at the faculty level, pitch deck presentations, main pitching session, and forming teams at the faculty level.

Speaking while giving his opening remarks, the vice chancellor, University of Nairobi, Prof. Stephen Kiama noted “Innovation and Commercialization is one of our major pillars as a University. We are launching this hackathon as a build-up towards Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) 2024 that will be happening in May 8th to 10th 2024. This year, the Innovation Week will focus on commercialization of all our innovations”.

 In addition, Prof. Kiama reiterated that “Kenya's funds from service provision and sale of raw materials are spent on importing goods and services. A very dangerous state. Innovation and commercialization add value to help students innovate and succeed in life”. He encouraged and called upon all the students from the ten (10) faculties to turn out in large numbers and participate in the activity since it was the first ever to be organized by the University.

“For the past eight (8) years, the University of Nairobi has organized Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) with the sole purpose of assisting staff & students in showcasing the knowledge they acquire and assisting them in solving challenges and disseminating that knowledge all over the nation We are delighted to register a huge turnout for our first-ever faculty-wide hackathon! 179 teams of about five hundred (500) students answered the call. I can't wait to see the innovative ideas they are going to develop!”. Prof. Mary Kinoti, Director Intellectual, Property Management Office noted while giving her address during the opening ceremony of the faculty-based hackathons.

 She highlighted that Hackathons break barriers between Faculty members and students. This fosters innovation, communication and collaboration as we all want to succeed. She noted that her department organized training for about fifty (50) plus students and staff from all the faculties and these included trainers of trainers(tots), coaches, judges and mentors earlier in February 2024 at Wangari Maathai Institute. Prof. Mary Kinoti was amongst the trainees leading the entire team that was selected from the various Faculties.

Faculty of Science and Technology registered the highest number of thirty-seven (37) teams and was ranked top among the ten (10) faculties followed by the faculty of Agriculture, Business Management Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Built-Environment, Faculty of Engineering, Faculty of Education, Faculty of Health Sciences, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine and Faculty of Law.

Mr. Innocent Magothe-CEO, Startinev indicated that the 32 teams will take on the challenges at the 9th Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) in May and only the top ten (10) will be selected and awarded one million shillings (ksh 1000000) to be shared equally. All the participating teams walked home with five thousand shillings (Ksh 5000) and will also be issued with Certificates of Participation at the faculty level.

The panelists were; Prof.Mary Kinoti, Director, IPMO-University of Nairobi, Innocent Magothe (CEO, Startinev), Benaiah Wepundi (CEO, PAYD) and Dean Gichukie (CEO-Quikk API) moderated by Charity Mbithe, Corporate Mcee.Their insightful and engaging discussion focused on ‘From Campus to Company-Inspriring Stories of Startup pioneers’.

Read more about Nairobi Innovation Week 2024