***This talk was given on 1.4.2013 at the MLA. It focuses on a paradox surrounding DH: the disparity between the hype surrounding DH and the material work conditions surrounding much DH (adjunct/ soft money positions, the constant drive to raise funds, the lack of scholarly recognition of DH work for promotions). In it, I call for us to work together—across the various fields and divisions—to create a university that is fair and just for all (teachers, students, researchers). I also call for us to find value in what is often discarded as “useless” in order to take on the really hard problems that face us.
Innovation hubs are neither a revolutionary idea nor a panacea for economic development. They are a logical development and serve a real need in countries where bottom-up and community-driven creative and IT industries are emerging, but state and private sector support systems are not sufficient to foster creativity and business creation. A number of factors, such as improvements in Internet infrastructure and the spread of mobile technology, have contributed to the developments currently taking place. There is much hype about hubs at present. Innovation hubs can be most effective when they harness the idea of openness and community-driven approaches. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon of creating new spaces, international investors and development organizations should find ways to collaborate at a partnership level that makes sense for both sides.
Launch of the Angel Investor network in Lagos Nigeria
The Lagos Innovation Hotspots is an initiative of the Co-creation Hub aimed at mapping hotspots representing clusters of emerging high growth and competitive businesses across Lagos. The current map, which has more than 170 listed businesses provides information on each cluster, businesses and location-based support services and illustrates exciting developments now underway in Lagos.
As the local community of entrepreneurs grows, a growing number of organizations and investors are looking to engage them. This was highlighted by the announcement of EchoVC, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm. The new fund aims to invest $30 Million into Sub-Saharan Africa Start-ups and the team is comprised of former Intel Capital director, Eghosa Omoigui, early-stage technology investor, Shadi Mehraein and former VC Finance at Founders Fund, Amber Fowler.
This news was followed by the recent launch of the ‘Lagos Angel Network,’ a platform that brings together individuals and organisations seeking to invest in and mentor Nigerian technology start-ups. LAN is an initiative of Wennovation Hub. Founding Partners include the World Bank, InfoDev, Tony Elumelu Foundation and Alitheia Capital. The initiative is headed by VC4Africa member Tomi Davies and currently counts 15 Angel investors. Members of the network are expected to commit at least $6,000 a year to a common investment pool.
The time to start a new technology venture in Nigeria couldn’t be better!