Dennis Kipkogei Chang'ach and Betty King’ori have landed the prestigious Leaders in Innovation Fellowship (LIF) programme in London, UK, commencing February 5 - 16, 2018. The LIF is a collaborative programme between the Kenya National Innovation Agency (KENIA) and the Royal Academy of Engineering (RAENG)-UK supported by the Newton Fund Programme.
The programme provides a platform for developing capacity on entrepreneurship and commercialisation of research outputs including intellectual property right issues hence nurturing Kenyan technological innovators.
Dennis, a 5th year JKUAT student of Mechatronic Engineering, got the fellowship with his Makaaridi innovation while Betty, currently a graduate trainee at KPMG Advisory Unit bagged the fellowship with her Domestic Avocado Oil Extractor innovation. Both innovations were showcased during the 8th JKUAT Tech Expo emerging 4th and 1st position respectively.
At the end of the fellowship programme, Dennis hopes to have sharpened his leadership skills and emerged as a value-driven leader who is ready to impact positive change through his innovation.
“I do believe that the mentorship opportunity from the programme, will greatly build my capacity as a leader in agri-tech entrepreneurship,” opined Dennis.
Dennis’ innovation, an automated solar powered cooler that incorporates modern technology into the traditional charcoal cooler, offers a convenient and efficient way of extending the shelf-life of perishable farm produce at an affordable price.
On lessons learnt from developing his innovation, he says “there is need to always carry out market research as you develop your innovation, in order to know whether your innovation is actually solving a problem.”
On her part, Betty says the programme accords her an opportunity to receive world class training from a recognised and distinguished institution helping her innovation have long lasting impact and revolutionise the avocado fruit farming industry in the country.
“Besides enjoying a unique opportunity to learn, traveling to a different country and being in a new and fast learning environment, I truly look forward to be in a room with passionate individuals looking to solve problems and leave an impact in society,” says Betty.
Her innovation, the Domestic Avocado Oil Extractor, aims at revolutionizing the avocado fruit farming industry by diversifying the capital a farmer can make from the sale of different avocado products especially avocado oil in order to empower themselves.
To fellow and upcoming innovators, Betty recommends that at the heart of providing a solution, they should put into consideration that their product will be used by people and the focus should mainly be on providing a simple fix that is affordable and easy to implement.
“My innovation stems up from my love for avocados and my desire to solve the issue of post-harvest losses in avocado fruit farming which I have seen my grandparents suffer from year after year,” attested Betty.
The major challenge innovators often face is commercialisation of their innovation. Both Dennis and Betty are adamant that the vast networks they will build during the fellowship will go a long way in helping them commercialise their innovations.
“The focused training period in the UK is very valuable to me because it will give me the impetus of growing the innovation from a project to a fully grown business,” averred Dennis.