Okoli emphasised that the target of the Anambra State Government is to transform the Solution Innovation District into the “Silicon Valley” of Southeastern Nigeria.
Governor Chukwuma Soludo’s Special Adviser on Innovation and Business Incubation, Ms. Chinwe Okoli has expressed the commitment of the Governor’s administration to creators and innovators.
This was the crux of Ms. Okoli’s keynote speech at the 5th International Conference and Exhibition for Science, Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (FAPSCON 2023).
The conference chaired by the Commissioner for Industry, Anambra State, Mr. Christian Udechukwu was held at Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University (COUU), Igbariam Campus.
Speaking on the topic “Breaking Barriers to Innovation, Local Manufacturing and Technology Development in Nigeria, Shedding light on critical barriers to Innovation and Technology in Nigeria”, Ms. Okoli revealed that one of the major setbacks to innovation is ignorance of opportunities offered by technology and innovation.
She reiterated the relationship existing between innovation, technology, and local manufacturing, stressing its imperative of potentially impacting the state.
While highlighting some of the strides of the present administration aimed at reinventing the staring into the creative digital capital of the Country, Ms. Okoli emphasized that the target is to transform the Solution Innovation District into the “Silicon Valley” of South Eastern Nigeria.
She hinted that the Governor has muted the idea of designating the current government house as the permanent site of the SID once he relocates to the new government house next year.
“Governor Soludo has set up a well-equipped SID centre in Awka, equipped with a digital skills lab, robotics lab, co-working space, steady power, and internet access.
“Our mandate is to activate, build, and scale the innovation ecosystem in the State. We offer digital skill training and services, incubate start-ups, and train innovative SMEs in Anambra State,” Ms. Okoli noted.
She asked participants to acknowledge the barriers to innovation but always remain focused on solutions, pointing out that the university needs to be a hub of smart ideas such that students graduate with both their certificates and innovative businesses that they founded.
In his opening statements, Mr. Christian Udechukwu espoused the University’s commitment to the mandate of nurturing students who are excellent in character and knowledge.
Udechukwu asked students to rally ideas to the body of knowledge before graduating, underlining the importance of graduating as innovators with integrity.
He highlighted the symbiotic synergy between the government, industry, and academia, saying that the conference offers a veritable platform for the relationship to blossom, adding that the mandate of the government of Professor Soludo is to support local manufacturing and innovation through the “Made in Anambra Project.”
He also spoke on the significance of harnessing the finest ideas emerging from the University for commercialization in partnership with the private sector.
Earlier in his welcome address, Professor Greg Nwakoby, the Vice Chancellor, represented by Professor Mathias Ananti, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Administration, emphasised that Chukwuemeka Odumegwu Ojukwu University places a high premium on research and innovation.
He said this informs the huge investments the university is making in staff motivation, human capacity, and infrastructural development which according to him had catapulted the profile of the university in regional and global university rankings.
Highpoint of the conference was the announcement of the winners of the “Mr. Governor’s Prize for Young Scientists and Future Innovators,” a competition open to secondary schools, recognised exemplary inventors, innovators, and tangible technological products.
The schools that won and their inventions include Regina Pacis Model Secondary School, Onitsha which took the first position for inventing a Gas Leakage Detector; Choice De Immaculate Demonstration, Obosi which took the second position for inventing a Speech Vibrator for the Deaf; as well as Deeper Life High School, Nteje, which took the third position for inventing a robot to Stop Moving Vehicles from Obstacles.
Divine and British School also invented a Phototherapy Machine for Jaundice.
In attendance at the event were Lady Ada Chukwudozie, Mr. Ajimijaye Silas Omomehin of the Nigerian Content Development & Monitoring Board, MD OMAA Motors, Mr. Chinedu Oguegbu among others.
They were received by the university management and representatives including, Prof. Mathias Ananti, DVC Administration; Prof. Osita Chiaghanam, Deputy Vice Chancellor (DVC) Academics; Sir Chris Obi, Registrar; Dr. Nath Udezo, Bursar; Prof. K.K. Nwozor, Dean of Physical Sciences; and Dr. E. Onyema Iloh, Sub-Dean of Physical Sciences among others.
Since its debut in 2018, FAPSCON has maintained a laser focus on its agenda and reflects that focus through its themes. For example, in 2022, FAPSCON dwelt on Advancing Nigerian Content Development for Industrial Productivity and Sustainable Digital Economy.