COVID-19 has presented an opportunity for the whole world to accelerate innovation, ingenuity and entrepreneurship in life-saving health technologies. In Kenya, we have seen entrepreneurs and innovators develop homegrown solutions, including locally assembled ventilators, contact tracing apps and automated testing kits.
However, despite the policies, strategic frameworks and investments for innovation, the path to scale for Kenyan innovators is not always clear. That’s why Villgro and Bobab have teamed up to deliver the Innovators Forum; a virtual event series exploring the challenges and opportunities for biomedical and diagnostic innovation and manufacturing in Kenya.
Over the course of five online events, we will be bringing together diverse groups of experts from business, academia and policy. Together, and inline with Kenya Vision 2030, we will explore where and how innovation and knowledge-based development processes can support national development strategies as a source of sustainable growth and jobs.
In addition to public webinars, we will also be delivering three interactive roundtables. Each will focus on a different area, convening high-level stakeholders and enabling deep-dive exploration of challenges and opportunities. These will range from developing complex manufacturing processes to the role of social impact bonds and other innovative funding mechanisms.
We will be capturing insights and ideas generated throughout these sessions and compiling them in our Guide To Accelerating Biomedical and Diagnostic Innovation and Manufacturing. This will provide a practical toolkit that can be picked up and used by stakeholders from Kenya and across Africa, designed to educate and assist with the development and manufacturing of homegrown health technologies.
The first event of the series will take place on 30th March 2021 under the theme, Building Resilience Through Investment in Biomedical and Diagnostics Innovation and Manufacturing in Kenya.
COVID-19 is taking its toll on Africa, reemphasising persistent structural weaknesses that overexpose countries like Kenya to the social, health and economic impacts of the pandemic. These include a high dependency on imports in areas such as drugs, machinery and equipment,weak local production systems, limited digital connectivity and the prevalence of informal micro businesses.
However, as well as highlighting reasons for concern, Kenya's response to COVID-19 also has the potential to accelerate innovation, improve the response of healthcare systems and ignite a growth recovery, unlocking industrialisation, modernisation and continental integration.
In this first event of the Innovators Forum, we will be convening a diverse group of experts to share their experiences and insights. Together, we will explore the channels through which trade and industrial policies can help launch a renewed, job-rich and sustainable development agenda in Kenya; one that leverages immense untapped national and regional potential, enables homegrown innovation to thrive and opens up new opportunities for local business to create new and better jobs.