Beautiful arena and modern theatre hall with stage lights. Huge publicity was made on social media and other available platforms. The Student Innovation Challenge had been a major talking point for students across Nigerian Universities and Polytechnics over the past few months.
The Student Innovation Challenge (SIC) is an initiative of Presidency. It is hosted by Civic Innovation Lab, organized by the Presidency and sponsored by the Bank of Industry (BOI). The Student Innovation Challenge aims at bringing some of Nigeria’s sharpest undergraduate minds together in a room, to discover how they can contribute to social reform by presenting technology-infused ideas that can solve some of the Nation’s toughest challenges. The program has primary objectives of nurturing and encouraging social innovations in technology geared towards growth, sustainability and finding solutions to problems within our environment. Entrepreneurs with ideas that can transform government, security, healthcare, agriculture and social justice are afforded the platform to showcase these designs to a panel and possibly obtain grants in cash or kind to further these designs for a better Nigeria.
There was a massive turnout for the event
SIC affords undergraduate students from various universities and polytechnics all over Nigeria an opportunity to compete for 1 million naira in seed funding. This fund is to be invested in the formation and establishment of the social enterprises born out of their ideas.
Post Regional Stage & National Demo Day
At the regional competition where selected ideas will be pitched by the corresponding innovators, further screening will be done based on the performance of the innovators. Each student will be given five minutes to pitch and five minutes for Q&A. At the end of this stage, the best one hundred innovations across the four regional locations will be selected. These innovators will converge in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, for a one week booth camp. During this camp, the participants will be taken through rigorous trainings to help them fine tune their ideas. This will enable them more confident when pitching at the finals and later on, to potential investors.
The participants will be exposed to mentorship by experts and proper business administrative trainings such as creating proper business plans, budgeting and business management.
List of Qualified Candidates for the Regional Final in Lagos
Now the competition was to kick off proper with the first of the five Demo days we are expected to witness across four major geographical zones and the final at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. This first demo day, which covered the participants within the South Western region of Nigeria, was hosted by the prestigious University of Lagos inside the ‘state-of-the-art’ J F Ajayi Auditorium.
Prior to this, a total of well over two thousand applications had been submitted, screened thoroughly and filtered. This filtering was done according to the standards and demands of the SIC that says ideas or innovations should be socially impactful to the immediate locality or state within which the school exists.
Expected to be in attendance were His Excellency, the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Proffessor Yemi Osinbajo S.A.N duly accompanied by the Pro Chancellor of the host University, Dr Wale Babalakin, The Vice Chancellor of University of Lagos, Professor Ogundipe, MD/ CEO Bank of Industry, Mr Kayode Pitan and CEO of Access Bank, Mr Herbert Wigwe. Other dignitaries anticipated to grace the demo day were ES MTN Foundation, Nonny Ugboma, CEO Enyo Retail, Director Samsung West Africa, Mr Olumide Ojo, Head of Retail Banking Diamond Bank, Mr Roberts Micheal and CEO of Softcom, Mr Yomi Adedeji.
Students, Parents, observers and other well-wishers trooped in from all over the six southwest states of the country and from even beyond. The event was highly anticipated and no one who had the chance to be there would give that up for anything.
There are very few stages that can match up to this when it comes to demo days. The Student Innovation Challenge easily qualifies as one of the best the country has ever witnessed. It matches up to the likes of International Student Hult Prize, the Havard Demo Days and even the Silicon Valley demo days.
Forty high class tech innovations were to be pitched on this stage and aired live on international cable TV. No other stage nationwide was as big and promising for an entrepreneur to pitch. The forty teams of innovators commenced registration as early as 7:30am and began rehearsing and perfecting their 3 minutes pitch. Other key attendees such as the moderator, judges, organizing teams and general audience were also registered digitally and tagged.
Adequate security officials were on ground to manage the crowd and ensure safety of everyone present.
A rich line-up of competent judges were given the onus of scoring the participants based on a set of preassigned standards and check boxes. These judges were men and women cutting across diverse sectors of the Nigerian economy with vast knowledge and experience in business development, innovation management, investment practice and talent/idea sourcing. They also had due integrity to score the participants without any ingenuine favoritism but only on merit.
The event was moderated and hosted by Mr Bunmi Otegbade. Mr Bunmi Otegbade is the MD of Generation Enterprise, an organization that helps build social mobility enterprises in Lagos, Osun and Abuja. He is a recipient of The Future Awards Africa Prize in Enterprise Support.
The judges at the SIC Southwest regional finals were:
- Titi Akanbi – Director, Access Bank.
- Bayo Adekanbi – Chief Marketing Officer, MTN.
- Abayomi Awobokun – CEO, Enyo Retail.
- Yomi Adedeji – CEO/Managing Partner, Softcom Limited.
- Olufunbi Falayi – Partner, Passion Incubator.
- Akin Oyebode – Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.
- Fola Olatunji – Google.
- Seun Onigbinde – Budgit.
- Gbenga Sesan – Paradigm Initiative.
All 40 teams had 3 minutes each to pitch their ideas and about 3 minutes for Q&A so it was only right for them to give it their best shots. Untra-modern infrastructure was put in place for easy presentation and demo of their products for those that had any.