Partner Profile: Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA)

Partnership is a central feature of Villgro Africa’s work. As we are just one stakeholder filling a particular role among many in this large and diverse sector, collaboration and cooperation is key. One of our fruitful partnerships that has grown over the past several years is with the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KeNIA), a parastatal with the mandate of driving Kenya’s national innovation agenda. They do this through fostering linkages, catalysing innovation and supporting the commercialization of ideas. 

KeNIA links academic research to the market. Outputs from the National Research Fund become inputs for KeNIA and they then work to determine how to transform those results into products and services. KeNIA creates programs and fosters alignment between the various other actors, including Villgro Africa. In health, the actors are regulators, asking whether the regulation supports or detracts from innovation. KeNIA works to create alignment between regulation and innovation. 

Our partnership with this important parastatal is only growing. Dr. Robert Karanja, one of Villgro’s co-founders and our Chief Innovation Officer, was recently nominated to the KeNIA board.

"KeNIA plays a crucial role in the shaping of Kenya's innovation and startup ecosystem. I am honoured by this opportunity to contribute in a small way to the new movement of innovation-driven development that KeNIA is spearheading to transform Kenya into a knowledge-driven economy that harnesses the power of innovation to create jobs and wealth for our posterity. My experience at Villgro demonstrates that this is indeed doable and I look forward to bringing this insights and experience to bear during my time with KeNIA. I am grateful to the appointing authority for this opportunity to serve together with the other board members." Dr. Robert Karanja, Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Villgro Africa

Along with past partnership such as the Assistive Technology funding call and pitching event, Villgro Africa is also a primary partner for the upcoming 2022 Kenya Innovation Week, KeNIA’s flagship innovation forum, which will take place in December. 

"Villgro Africa is one of the partners that aligns well to KeNIA's agenda of building a strong innovation system. It takes private sector partners, particularly venture builders and funders to scale promising innovations. Villgro brings on board a strong proven methodology, networks, and capacities that are translating to tangible results. We are proud to work with Villgro Africa" Dr. Tonny Omwansa, CEO of KeNIA

Dr. Karanja is excited to continue pushing the KeNIA agenda as a board member and Villgro Africa as a whole are ready to continue partnering in order to foster collaboration between sectors and increase the level of innovation both within Kenya and beyond its borders.