By Chinedu James
The Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU) – ICT Driven Knowledge Park (OAK-Park), a World Bank fully funded project intended to drive the growth of ICT industry in the country will also empower startups to promote entrepreneurship and innovation in the country.
The Co-Centre leader of the project, Professor Ganiyu Adesola Aderounmu who is also the President of the Nigerian Computer Society (NCS) revealed this at the recently held One day Academia-Industry Engagement/ Interface with the theme ‘Rethinking Academia- Industry Engagement’ in Lagos.
According to Prof. Aderounmu, the OAK-Park will lend its support to the future of startups in Nigeria as this is one of the objectives of the Park, knowing its benefits to the economy of the country.
“In the last two to three years now, we have been able to build a lot of startup companies. We are going to have another program that will invite most of the companies who are partners and even prospective partners.
“These companies will look at some of the startups and see whether we can get some investors and partners in Nigeria and West Africa to invest in them” he said.
The OAK-Park joins other efforts to promote the startup ecosystem in Nigeria.
Aderounmu also told IT Edge News that the commercialization of the educational sector including research efforts within the academia can help generate funds for startups and small and medium enterprise (SMEs) in Nigeria.
The NCS President disclosed that the capital needed to fund projects and heavy reliance of finance from investors by startups and SMEs could be mitigated by commercialization.
“One of the major problems that is facing higher institutions and the ICT industry at large is funding and we have seen that the federal government cannot fund education and projects alone
“One way we can use to generate a lot of funding is for us to commercialize some of these products and if we are able to commercialize, funding will be generated” he said.
He further noted that entrepreneurial zeal and innovative ideas rarely pass the incubation stage as they lack the booster needed for progress while also praising the recent efforts of public and private firms to support startups in the country.
The Information and tech ecosystem in Nigeria has experienced funding challenges that have impacted its growth.