Konza partners with Israel embassy in Kenya for innovation challenge


Israel Ambassador to Kenya, H.E Oded Joseph (right) and Konza Technopolis CEO, Eng. John ...
Israel Ambassador to Kenya Oded Joseph (right) and Konza Technopolis CEO John Tanui (left). PHOTO | COURTESY

Konza Technopolis Development Authority (KoTDA) and the Israel embassy in Kenya have partnered to host an innovation challenge to address technology driven needs of the Technopolis.

The challenge dubbed “Konza Innovation Challenge” targets innovations in response to the advancement of Konza Technopolis, that will utilize technology to power the City’s smart ambitions.

According to Eng. John Tanui, Chief Executive Officer KoTDA, the challenge will provide an opportunity for innovators in Kenya and Israel to solve the immediate and long-term needs of Konza Technopolis with a focus on smart access control, intelligent asset management, Smart parking management and smart traffic management solution.

He further added that the challenge shall provide an opportunity for innovator cross-pollination and deepen collaborations between the two countries.

Speaking at Konza Technopolis during a networking session with innovators from hubs across the country, Israel Ambassador to Kenya, H.E Oded Joseph said his country is keen on developing cooperation on innovation, adding that Kenya is an excellent partner.

“Here we can find the heartbeat of talent and a thriving innovation system. We see many hubs being grown here. The fact that there are growing hubs here is very important and that is a field for cooperation with Israeli hubs. We have promising partners like Konza Technopolis, a smart city that is known as Silicon Savannah,” he said.

The diplomat said he is looking forward to seeing the youth develop solutions that can be adopted in Konza, and hopefully, do it together with the youth from Israel. In his remarks, the Ambassador pointed out that challenges in Israel such as security, food security and water have been major drivers to developing solutions for the country.

Winners will pilot their solutions at Konza and upon successful completion have them utilized. For those which are unsuccessful, Konza will provide a space through the National Data Centre where digital applications can be hosted and supported through an acceleration program to be implemented in partnership with innovation hubs currently working with KoTDA.

While stressing the need for building collaborations, the CEO said: “We have seen many start-ups which are born global at the start and those are some of the opportunities we want to create for Kenyan innovators through linkages with other innovation ecosystems.”

Being the country’s first smart city, Konza is a model that can be replicated in Kenya and the region. Already, it is attracting global attention, and the innovation challenge will provide an opportunity for Kenyans to give ideas and meet some of the challenges the country is facing.

Israel has more than 9,488 start-ups, with its high-tech industry producing about 1,000 new innovative companies every year. Majority of these investments are in cyber security, Artificial Intelligence, Fintech and Foodtech.

The Bloomberg 2021 Innovation Index ranks Israel 7th among the most innovative countries in the world, and number one in raising venture capital per capita. South Korea is the first followed by Singapore, Switzerland, Germany, Sweden and Denmark in that order. Finland is ranked 8th, Netherlands 9th and Austria 10th.

In 2020, despite the Coronavirus Disease Pandemic (COVID-19) Pandemic, investments totaled USD10 billion in 607 deals exceeding 2019 results by 31% in capital and 20% in the number of deals.

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