In a bid to address one of the critical challenges of businesses, especially among startups, the Lagos government and Eko Innovation Centre including other experts at the Art Of Technology Lagos 3.0 held recently in Lagos have offered tips on how start-ups can get funds. They also used the platform to empower innovative Tech Entrepreneurs and young innovators with equity investment and other support initiatives to thrive in the business space.
The two-day hybrid conference curated by Eko Innovation Centre held 3rd and 4th of December, 2021 at the Oriental Hotel Victoria Island, had as its theme “Funding and a Connected Lagos”. In attendance were the crème de la crème in government and other experts in the technology ecosystem who spoke on investment readiness, intellectual property, startup bills and other regulations, and policy formulations for tech startups in the tech ecosystem.
Dr. Isa Ali Pantami, Nigeria’s Minister of Communication and Digital Economy who spoke at the event via a virtual platform commended Lagos and Eko Innovation Centre for making the state the Silicon Valley of Africa stating that it would continue to support the state in its quest to achieve much more.
He explained further that technology deployment is changing the world, stating that the ICT sector was instrumental for the country’s exit from recession. He, therefore, urged startups to deploy technology to ease their operations in the interest of growing their business remarkably
In the same vein, he said the government is determined to support the growth of startups and businesses especially with the many government agencies working closely to fund and grow the business landscape.
Also, he pointed that the country has the highest number of venture capitalists and pointed that the Startup bill currently up for consideration by the federal Executive council, would further help accelerate the growth of Startups when made to the law.
Noteworthy, asides from Pantami, some of the experts at the conference stated that they are optimistic that the bill when it becomes a law will contribute to the creation of an enabling environment for growth, attraction, and protection of investment in tech startups.
On his part, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, Executive Governor, Lagos State said that his administration has been deliberate about deploying technology to make governance seamless and has been funding the technology space in line with its smart city agenda which has further helped the state to be the 5th largest economy in Africa.
He added that from traffic management to security it is deploying technology to make the state better and as regards supporting businesses with funding, he explained that the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC) raised the bar in assisting the state in achieving its smart city agenda of making Lagos a 21st-century economy to transit to a smart city through the application of science and information technology and by also providing grants to innovators.
Art of Technology (AOT) Lagos is the largest tech conference in Nigeria which brings together key stakeholders from the public and private sector to discuss policies and initiatives that will pave way for the evolution of a smarter, digital, efficient, and competitive Lagos.
The event also had experts in the technology space, business, and financial sector. Some of the keynote speakers who dissected the theme and subthemes are Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft; Dr. Andrew S. Nevin, Financial Services Leader & Chief Economist (PWC, NG); Olukayode Pitan, MD/CEO, Bank of Industry; Kola Aina, Founder, Ventures Platform; Tomi Davies, Collaborator-In-Chief, TVC Labs; and Aishah N. Ahmad, Deputy Governor, Financial Systems Stability Directorate, Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) among other experts who will be speaking during panel sessions.
Some of the decisions from deliberations are calls for more government and private support for startups through funding, friendly policies, leveraging technology, adopting sustainability in business, taking the opportunity of sectors they belong among others.
Meanwhile, in a segment of the event titled Collaborate Lagos, 8 startups pitched their products for a chance to receive up to $100k in equity investment from Eko innovation Centre. Collaborate Lagos is an initiative that seeks to give visibility to the best startups in Lagos. The selected startups pitched to 8 judges, 50 VCs, and a global audience.
Recall earlier before the event, the Curator of Art of Technology Lagos 3.0 and Founder of Eko Innovation Centre, Mr. Victor Gbenga Afolabi, had reported that “Over the years, we get blown away by the number of startup entries for Collaborate Lagos. This year we had 168 top quality applications and we are lucky to have the best minds to help with the difficult task of selections. The startups pitching this year are Drugstore.ng, ThinkBikes, Healthstack, Eko Carbon Exchange, Retailar, Vinsighte, EonsFleet and SabiTeach. These Creative ideas are designed to address local issues and eye global expansion. Good luck to the selected few”
However, after the pitching, the judges three of the startup emerged winners. SabiTeach clinched third place presented N250,000, Retailar emerged second with N500,000 and Vinsighte clinched the first position with N1,000,000. Also, beneficiaries of LASRIC grant were also presented with cheques at the event.
Afolabi said the African startup ecosystem has witnessed tremendous growth over the last few years. Albert, a lot of startups in Africa still finds it difficult to secure funds for their businesses which is the reason for the two-day conference. “Our conference had made decisions that have impacted Lagos State in Irreversible ways.”
The two-day summit was building on the success of last year’s event which recorded a large turnout both physical and virtual, adding that its impact has been a phenomenon.
He recalled that the maiden edition was held in 2019 and recorded over 2,000 participants in attendance, noting that one of the key successes was the launch of the Lagos Innovation Masterplan which has continued to guide the Lagos state government in achieving its SMART City agenda.
Also, the second edition hosted about 8,700 participants and witnessed the launch of Startup Lagos as well as Eko Open-source projects, with key participation from over 30 countries worldwide.
Noteworthy, Governor Sanwo-Olu raised the bar for government participation in Tech with a seed funding of 250million Naira to grow the Lagos Tech community at the maiden edition of AoT Lagos.