Business Mixer sparks collaboration for innovation in Nigeria
On 23 November 2023, a Business Mixer took place in Lagos in order to showcase the Open Innovation intervention of the Innovate UK Global Alliance Africa project and give information on current challenges. We would like to thank all organisers and participants for taking part in this important networking meeting.
Innovate UK Global Alliance Africa recently reiterated its dedication to enhancing innovation across key sectors through a Business Mixer event which was held in Lagos, Nigeria. The professional gathering highlighted the transformative Open Innovation Intervention Programme, which focuses on swiftly addressing technical challenges within the local supply chains of major organisations.
With a main intention to foster industry collaboration among challenge holders and solution providers, it is safe to say that the event accomplished all that it set out to achieve by bringing together the right mix of people in the room for fruitful discussions.
As a sector-agnostic incubator, Innovate UK prides itself on the deep expertise that it possesses in different industries, with a unique role of connecting innovators, funders, and collaborators to transform ideas into reality. To make this happen, Innovate UK works closely with challenge holders through the Open Innovation Intervention Programme to find innovative solutions to key business challenges. This is via a proven process for identifying innovators with promising solutions, assessing their ideas, and facilitating collaborative pilots leading to positive outcomes. The Business Mixer also served as an innovative exchange and practical showcase for the brands and organisations present, including Animal Care, and Berger Paints.
Taking centre stage, Babar Javed, Open Innovation Lead at Innovate UK KTN, highlighted the process and endpoint of the business mixer cycle:
We try to understand the technical issues you are trying to solve, and we look at it in the wider sense in terms of socioeconomic benefits. We then solve these problems using our proprietary platform called Innovation Exchange. We are not the only ones that participate in this, ours is quick and easy, allowing you to find innovation in unexpected places.
Babar outlined the funding stages for each challenge, starting with the challenge translation where innovators explain the problem they are trying to solve. This phase then transforms the issue into a brief, further initiating an international competition that spans 6-8 weeks, which is the second phase. Following this, the selection phase ensues, during which shortlisted candidates present their ideas, and a winner is chosen.
Subsequently, the chosen winner receives £25,000 in seed funding to advance their project. They are granted 6-12 months to complete and test the project, validating its functionality, after which, both the challenge holders and innovators collaborate to scale the project. Babar further emphasised that there will be a launch of more challenges in 2024. He continued by commending Nigeria on the fast pace of work that local challenge holders put in, listing it as the quickest delivery of all the projects conducted in Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa.
Connect and Collaborate
The Business Mixer event was a platform to illustrate the triumphs and success stories of Innovate UK’s Open Innovation Intervention Programme in Nigeria. With an inclusive and insightful atmosphere, potential challenge holders, and solution providers were able to connect through extensive dialogues, creating a network of partnerships that will positively shape the local business community, and country at large. The connections forged during the Business Mixer are expected to positively shape the local business community and the countries involved, and the collaborative network of partnerships formed at the event will build on Innovate UK’s commitment to driving innovation and fostering growth across Africa.
About Global Alliance Africa
Global Alliance Africa is a six-year project funded by UK International Development through Innovate UK (GCRF) and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).
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Open Innovation Challenge: Valorisation of Expired Paints
Opens: 29/11/2023 Closes: 16/02/2024
Berger Paints Nigeria seek innovations to convert aged paints, and paint fractions and components, into usable paints and other beneficial products.
Open Innovation Challenge: Innovative Products from Millet (and Other High Fibre Grains)
Opens: 01/12/2023 Closes: 29/01/2024
Unilever Kenya is seeking innovative solutions to produce millet food products with consumer appeal and zero waste, using circular economy principles.
Open Innovation Challenge: Manure Valorisation and Energy Production
Opens: 04/12/2023 Closes: 14/02/2024
Animal Care, Nigeria, are looking for ways to transform poultry manure into energy sources and other valuable outputs.
Global Alliance Africa
This Innovate UK Global Alliance Africa 6-year (2019-2025) project funded by UK International Development aims to build new and stronger UK-African partnerships to maximise the creation of inclusive market access, funding and investment opportunities through innovation knowledge transfer between the UK, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
Open Innovation is the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere, so it is worth looking widely, beyond your usual supply chains. Innovate UK has well-established methods for supporting Open Innovation, having run 200+ innovation challenges across the world. Our model allows diverse collaborators to respond to shared industry challenges in a mutually beneficial way.