Isreali Embassy, Innov8 Boost Employment,  Bolster Nigeria’s Economic Prosperity Through i-FAIR

Isreali Ambassador, Michael Freeman, giving his speech at the occasion.

Isreali Ambassador, Michael Freeman, giving his speech at the occasion.

By Eniola Olakunri

‘Empowering the individual means empowering the nation. And empowerment is best served through rapid economic growth with rapid social change’

– Atal Bihari Vajpayee

(25 December 1924 – 16 August 2018) poet, politician and former Vice-president of India.

For three successive seasons, the Israeli Embassy in collaboration with Innov8 Hub (an Abuja-based Innovation-centric non-profit organisation), have been in the forefront of empowering talented Nigerians; guiding them towards personal success and economic prosperity.

Through the now widely popular Innovation Fellowship for Aspiring Inventors and Researchers (I-FAIR), the 6-monthly “Comprehensive Venture Creation, Innovation and Technology Development Programme” designed for Nigerian budding entrepreneurs, start-ups, innovators and inventors, have been recording favourable outcomes and amply supporting the nation’s quest towards self-sufficiency and rapid socio-economic transformation.

Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Michael Freeman discussing a point of interest with Mr Meir Dagan, General Manager, Innov8 Hub, at the Fair

Laying the groundwork for the recently concluded 3rd successive i-FAIR, witnessed by the Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr ‘Bosun Tijani; his Foreign Affairs counterpart, Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar, (represented by Ambassador Akinremi Bolaji), amidst other dignitaries from the public and private sectors, the Israeli Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency, Michael Freeman, said the Fair was initiated with the desire of seeking solutions to various local challenges in Nigeria, through innovation. 

He went on, “I-FAIR provides participants with essential resources and dedicated support to transform their concepts into sustainable ventures. These ventures aim not only to create employment opportunities but also to bolster economy prosperity at both individual and national levels. The overarching objective is to position Nigeria as a leading hub for startup growth and development”.

For a nation in dire need of solutions to her myriad challenges, the introduction of the i-FAIR concept could not have come at a better time.

According to the Ambassador, the two editions hitherto concluded witnessed the participation of 63 fellows and the development of 56 products made possible via 1,300 mentorship hours, endorsing more than 100 ideas, and witnessing first hand, the “inspiring success stories of i-FAIR fellows who have transformed their ideas into ventures such as Thinkbike, Soilless Farm Labs, Quadloop Africa, EpochZero, and Eco Circular Solution; attracting investment and leading into successful enterprises”

Participants at the just concluded 3rd edition of i-FAIR went through vigorous selection processes, with the experts on site, sifting through more than 100 applications.

Meta Hanien, Director of Programs and Partnerships (Innov8 Hub) explaining a point of interest to representative of the Foreign Affairs Minister (Ambassador Akinremi Bolaji) Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy (Dr ‘Bosun Tijani), Isreali Ambassador (His Excellency, Michael Freeman) among other invitees

At the end of the exercise,12 startup teams at various points in their product development were selected, and their journey to mentorship for progress took off. They were taken through  strategic and innovative steps of business model refining, product-market fit optimisation, product processes cost efficiency, leveraging on local content in their creatives, development of invention prototypes among others, all in a bid towards getting them stoked for market preparedness and buoying their options for raising funds and investments.

The Minister of  Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr ‘Bosun Tijani in his contributions, extolled the initiatives of the Israeli Embassy and Innov8 Hub on the programme, urging them to keep up the good work. He said there is so much that Nigeria can offer the world, as the population of most of the western economies are aging and their citizens are not really reproducing.

He noted that with 60 percent of the nation’s population under 25, Nigeria can be a net exporter of workforce to the developed economies (especially in the area of technology), if the talents of the young population can be properly harnessed and intentionally molded for purpose.

Mr Deji Ige, a spoken word artist and Innov8’s Deputy General Manager, in his remarks, intimated that Innov8 was birthed through the vision of Professor Gregory Ibe (Enyi Abia), and Dr Moshe Moalem. He said the organisation lives by the mantra “Development is inevitable when innovation becomes a culture” and that “prosperity answers to those who make entrepreneurship a way of life”.

Innovators at the Fair in a group photograph

He noted that through I-FAIR, the Israeli Embassy in Nigeria and Innov8 Hub are “…. reshaping the landscape of Made-in-Nigeria solutions, job creation, entrepreneurship advancement, wealth generation and human capital development in the country”

Innov8 Hub is also collaborating with the Tertiary Education Trust Fund (TETFund) on TETFund Innovation for Innovative Research (TETFair), open to University Academics; Research for Impact (R4i), designed for Polytechnic lecturers, and other initiatives all in the bid to buoying innovation as a way of solving pressing societal challenges.

“Graduates” of the just concluded i-Fair 3 are:

Vectar – a leading renewable energy company committed to improving the paucity of energy in Nigeria via innovative clean energy solutions.

Revive Earth – an e-mobility startup  imbued with the idea of transforming Nigeria’s transportation system into a clean-energy driven, cost efficient network.

Grocircular Agro Services Ltd – an agri-biz startup poised to applying latest technology in enhancing agric ventures and promoting food security in Nigeria.

MitiMeth – a luxury brand employing waste, water hyacinth, banana fiber, coconut shells and bamboo to produce handsome handmade decors and clothing accessories.

TREKK – leveraging on renewable energy to run a successful e-scooter sharing platform. The company aims to replace the traditional mode of commuting with a hassle-free, modern and technology-steered one.

Nextwear Technologies – developing an ingenious way of detecting breast cancer early, is the core business of this venture. Christened Smart Bra, Nextwear’s invention is a reusable and wearable device, built with non-invasive materials based on ultrasonic sensors plus image analysis systems billed to optimise early breast cancer detection.

Solaris Green Tech Hub – a company targeting rural and semi urban areas (particularly those living on less than $1 a day), for micro solar solutions as answers to their energy needs.

Ufarmy – an agrictech company that specialises in enhancing urban farming practices and tutoring health-conscious city dwellers in growing untainted food, devoid of chemicals or additives.

Integrated Aerial Precision – committed to changing the Nigerian agricultural landscape by employing drone technology and advanced data analytics to deliver solutions to farmers.

Grainsafe – GOFAT Group Global – poised to addressing challenges often encountered with grain storage in Nigeria. It aims to safeguard grains for consumption and in the main, mitigating post-harvest losses usually engendered by pest infestation.

Sirius-X Energy – a company whose creativity lies in its uniqueness in converting solar and wind into energy use.

Aquastill – an initiative for accessing clean water for both rural and urban residents. A veritable answer to shortage of potable water in many parts of the country, this product is equipped with a nanoclay water filter that “efficiently and affordably purifies contaminated water using nanofiltration technology”.

All the 12 startup teams made their pitches one after the other, to an impressive array of  young, personable Nigerian Prospective Investors/Funders, led by Iyioluwa Aboyeji, Founder Future Africa, and the delight of everyone present.

Perhaps not too many are aware that the State of Israel enjoys the privilege of being the country with the highest percentage of scientists, engineers and technologist in the world, per capita. The country spent “4.3 percent of its GDP on civil research and development in 2015, the highest ratio in the world” on information provided by Wikipedia.

According to a report authored by Deloitte tagged “The Israeli Technological Ecosystem: A Powerhouse of Innovation”, the State of Israel has truly lived up to its moniker “The Startup Nation”, as she has evolved to become “an entrepreneurial powerhouse and hotbed for pioneering technologies, profitable business opportunities, and high investment returns”

No wonder, over 200 of the world’s leading multinationals have found home in Israel, and those include, Google, Microsoft, Apple, Siemens, Facebook, Cisco, Lucent, Philips, AOL, Bershire-Hathaway, IBM , Toshiba and EMC to mention a few.

In the words of renowned Austrian-American author, educator and management consultant, Peter Drucker, “We now accept that learning is a lifelong process of keeping abreast of change. And the most pressing task is to teach people how to learn”

It is apparent that a good number of highly focused Nigeria youths have started embracing Science and Technology as critical subjects that can advance their careers in no small measure. But they still need a lot to learn for many years to come, especially from the copious experience of countries in the mold of the State of Israel in matters bordering on Innovation, Engineering, Science and Technology and who are eager to assist.

And it is in this sense that the collaboration between the Israeli Embassy in Nigeria, and Innov8 Hub should be lauded by all, as it sets on course to contributing largely to the social economic transformation of Nigeria.

– Olakunri, a public sector analyst writes from Abuja.

Phone: 08033467676 (WhatsApp only), Email:

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