Youth-focused Elevate scores a first

HARARE - Youth leadership and development organisation, Elevate Trust (Elevate), has established a science and technology incubator (Scitechinc) aimed at fostering entrepreneurship among young scientists.

Elevate founder Sicelo Dube said the incubator – the first of its kind in Zimbabwe – will work on the creation of new inventions for the African market.

“Science and technology incubators accelerate the successful development of science ideas into entrepreneurial companies by providing an array of business support resources and services. This will result in job creation for science graduates and is a sure way of spearheading innovation and industrialisation in science,” she said.

The innovation incubator is expected to do application-focused scientific and user studies to address key challenges like improving access to lighting and affordable healthcare as well as developing innovations to meet the needs of the rising middle class in Africa.

Dube, who is affectionately known as Zimbabwe’s STEMlady because of her passion to drive science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects among female students, said she came up with the idea of a science laboratory as a way of encouraging problem solving skills among young innovators.

“We want to tap into the country’s vibrant research and development eco-system and contribute to the process of co-creating new solutions, new business models and meaningful partnerships to provide innovations that make an impact,” she said.

“Scitechinc is designed to help scientists commercialise their innovative research ideas. The platform focuses on making science a business rather than a career”.

The incubator currently houses entrepreneurs in ICTs, agriculture, biotechnology, energy, environment, food and nutrition and health with a particular bias on bio innovations.

This comes as innovation hubs in some African nations such as Kenya, Egypt and South Africa have gone past being centres of creativity and even go as far as driving development in a broad range of sectors. These hubs are also the birthing place of numerous great ideas – ideas created by African youth who engage in the information technology sphere.

Similar developments are taking place in Asia and South America. The common aim of all the innovation hubs is to promote local innovation, encourage relevant actors to share knowledge early on in the development process and foster cooperation. The hubs support networking among local stakeholders and create links to investors and international organisations.

Economic analysts say the provision of innovation hubs could be a means of youth empowerment which would allow the youth to channel their creative energy into a potentially productive source for their communities. - The Financial Gazette

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