By Wilkister Alao
Nestlé has invited Kenyan innovators and entrepreneurs to take part in its ongoing Research and Development (R&D) innovation challenge in Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the company’s efforts to contribute to the local innovation system.
The challenge is aimed at helping boost local entrepreneurship and providing a platform for start-ups and universities to contribute to local sustainable growth by bringing breakthrough ideas to the market.
Speaking during a meet up with local developers in Kilimani, Nairobi, Nestlé East Africa Cluster Managing Director Njeru Ng’entu said Kenya is famed the world over for its innovative spirit. He called on local entrepreneurs to live up to the reputation by developing innovative and sustainable solutions.
“There is a growing number of Africa-based entrepreneurs and local researchers with creative ideas to address issues facing their communities,” he said. “This R&D innovation challenge presents for our company an exceptional opportunity to leverage the outstanding creativity while helping to turn the most promising ideas into reality,” he added.
In a bid to engage with local start-ups, Nestlé has partnered with Kinaya Ventures, based at the Nairobi Garage, as part of the Spring Fellowship Program which is designed to accelerate corporate start-up partnerships and catalyze digital entrepreneurship.
Kenyan innovators will compete with their counterparts from West and Central African universities to submit solutions, as the R&D challenge seeks to work collaboratively with start-ups and universities to identify sustainable and scalable science and technology solutions that help to accelerate the innovation of products that meet local consumer needs.
The challenge calls for novel solutions across four areas: environmentally friendly packaging solutions, sustainable cocoa plantlets, affordable nutrition, and new routes market.
The selected team will then enter an accelerator program to help advance and potentially commercialize their ideas.
During the accelerator, the start-up will have access to Nestlé’s R&D expertise and infrastructure at the R&D Centre in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, including shared labs, kitchens, and pilot-testing equipment.
At the end of the accelerator, teams will have the opportunity to pitch their proof of concept to Nestlé management.
Other countries participating in the Nestle R&D innovation challenge include Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Nigeria, Senegal, and South Africa.