Our Participation during Innovation Week 2020, Picking on the Theme of Smart Partnerships For Impact.

SmartLab had a privilege to participate in the Innovation Week 2020 Dar es Salaam edition from 9th to 14th March. It was a week-long series of events and exhibitions in Tanzania, curated by the Human Development Innovation Fund (HDIF), Commission of Science and Technology (COSTECH), in partnership with other innovation stakeholders, and with support from the UKAid. The purpose of Innovation Week is to inspire innovation stakeholders from all walks of life to take risks on new ideas and innovations, catalyse collaboration across sectors, and transform Tanzania through innovation with this year’s theme being “Innovate For Impact”.

On Tuesday, March 10th and Wednesday March 11th 2020, Smart Lab hosted events  consecutively at Kibo Hall LAPF Tower 2 and Smartlab Space at Smart Codes HQ Mikocheni ‘A’ as part of their participation in the Innovation Week, with the theme based on Smart Partnerships for Impact. 

The first event was hosted by Smart Lab in partnership with Vodacom with the Title; ‘Corporate-startup collaboration through accelerators’. Given the growth of the Ecosystem we have so many disruptive innovations coming up, big corporations have started believing in Innovation and are looking for ways to dive in and be part of the digital world, Smart Lab has seen the need to emphasize on Corporate-startup partnerships through all means possible, a good example being through Accelerators. The main objective of this event was to educate corporates on how to identify and handle disruptive technologies emerging in their industries, explain to them how their  organization can consistently deliver successful innovation projects when leveraging on innovation, show them how to maintain an innovative culture among employees at work and explaining to them the right time to partner with external organizations such as startups to explore emerging markets versus doing it in-house.

The main audience were corporates, a few startups and development partners. The event began with the Vodacom Accelerator team giving a presentation on the corporate accelerator model with a case study focus on the Vodacom Accelerator. The team explained the enlightment from getting a large number of applications, this shows the high interest in innovation in Tanzania.

The event was followed by a very intriguing panel discussion by  Edwin Bruno, CEO of Smart Codes and Nguvumali Kamando, Digital Director at Vodacom Tanzania Plc, Moderated by Tunu Tunu Makamula, Development and Marketing Manager at Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania . They discussed how they address the gaps when it comes to corporations partnering with Startups through corporate innovation partnerships and answered different questions from the audience regarding partnerships and their experience when it comes to the Vodacom Digital Accelerator.

The Vodacom Digital Accelerator was the shining example to corporates in this event. Vodacom and Smart Lab shared their experiences in conducting this program to help corporates understand the impact they can have if they decide to partner with startups and key players in the Innovation Ecosystem. 

On Wednesday March 11th 2020, Smart Lab hosted the second event with the theme; ‘How Can Startups partner with Corporates in Scaling Up’. We believe there is a need for strong partnerships between Corporates and Startups for their innovations to be scaled or sustained.There are many ways this can be done, some failed some have succeeded. Therefore this event was among efforts to dig deep and make sure there is a bridge on this gap by seeing how possible this can be done together with the corporates willing to invest in these Startups as it has been Smart Lab’s main focus to make that happen.

The main audience during the event were founders and corporate companies from various industries including banks, telecommunication companies, auditing firms and others. The discussion began by an introduction of the ecosystem and Smart Lab and partnerships with corporates that Smart Lab has achieved when it comes to helping startups.

There was a very engaging panel discussion that consisted of bankers i.e; Stanley Kafu, Head of Marketing at Exim Bank Tanzania and Victor Makere Head of Digital Banking Tanzania, a startup founder Cynthia Bavo CEO at My Job Pass and key players in the ecosystem, Diana Ninsiima Country Director at DOT Tanzania. 

The discussion began by the moderator Tunu Makamula, a Development and Marketing Manager at Indigenous Education Foundation of Tanzania addressing panelists with a question on how they are investing to catalyze and scale up innovation in Tanzania. Mr Victor Makere began by explaining how serious Standard Chartered Bank takes innovation and  their initiatives worldwide to promote innovation for economic growth through accelerators and innovation labs for innovators . The discussion went on by Mr Staneley Kafu explaining how innovation is a priority for Exim Tanzania, he went on; “ we have been trying to enter and be active players in the innovation ecosystem by partnering with the key players in it.

There were interesting contributions and questions from the audience, especially founders trying to get to know how corporations can partner with them without using their ideas without them benefiting as the innovators. The panel addressed this by insisting on being confident with their ideas and putting in mind that an idea is not valuable until it has been worked on. They also insisted on founders not focusing on getting funds but designing their innovations based on existing problems this being the major opportunity. Cynthia Bavo also insisted given her experience as a founder on the importance of horizontal partnerships before targeting big companies.

Smart Lab believes that it is very important to foster productive partnerships between startups and corporations for their businesses to scale but there is also a great opportunity for corporates in these partnerships, business wise. 

Smart Lab also partnered with Ennovate hub to organize the second episode of Idea Marathon Incubation program and prepared an event during Innovation week to launch and open applications. The event was under the theme Leaving no one behind through Innovation with a title "Idea Marathon Hack Event" that involved discussions about the previous cohort of the Idea Marathon program, challenges faced, how it was received, the success stories and implementation plans of the next one.

The launch and opening of applications was officially announced. People were called upon to start submitting their ideas immediately.The panel discussion in this event covered key startup support areas and how stakeholders of the Ecosystem can cheap in and support startups. This event brought together startups, hubs, ecosystem builders, government representatives, development partners and other key players in the Innovation Ecosystem.

Smart Lab was happy to host different sessions during the most interactive, engaging and insightful innovation week in Dar es Salaam, moreover addressing the theme of Innovate For Impact as it has been our main focus with Smart Partnerships For Impact in particular with a vision to bridge the gaps that have been exisiting through partnerships.

Therefore, all these efforts we are putting together is to ensure that these partnerships come to life and transform the Innovation Ecosystem of Tanzania and the economy at large. Quoting what Ms. Rosalynn Mworia ~ Director of Corporate Affairs and Vodacom Tanzania Foundation said at the closing ceremony of Innovation week held on Friday 13th March, “Among the key learnings from Innovation Week have been 1. Collaborate to bring impact 2. Be agile (eg. Have a safe sandbox to rapidly test ideas 3. Sustainability is key and lastly  4. Innovation is cool. 

Smart Lab is an innovation platform that links learning institutions with corporate partners to empower groundbreaking solutions that will impact communities.

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