By; PATRICK TITUS, Uyo.
Two-week intensive expert-led training, #AKITECH Pitch Competition, has discovered 72 tech solution providers with impressive success stories in Akwa Ibom State.
Organized by Start Innovation Hub, the 2021 Pitch Competition which was sponsored by Inoyo Toro Foundation, saw some of the competitors smiling home with as much as N1.5m from the total aggregate of N100m committed to the competition.
Notable of the 72 innovators was Kingsley Ekanem, CEO of Alpha 1 Technical Services whose locally-fabricated medical oxygen generator project won One Million Naira Star Prize.
Ekanem who was compelled to innovate locally made oxygen generator by circumstances surrounding his father’s death, said he now support hospitals with additional oxygen generators to save lives.
“I started innovating as a student in Technical College, Ewet in Uyo. The highest thing you get here in Akwa Ibom is ‘Wow!’ I thought I was in a wrong place, until I saw my name published as the second innovation wonder of Akwa Ibom State. But I asked myself, is this how wonders are? For many years of my efforts of saving lives with my patented locally-fabricated medical oxygen generator, I never really felt encouraged and supported, until Inoyo Toro Foundation came and changed that story.
“I am passionate about oxygen generation and the foreign devices are really not enough. Sometimes, I get to support some patients with my device. Like I said while making my presentation during the Pitch Competition, my father died because of lack of oxygen. I don’t like to see it happen again”.
“Let me say this to encourage some of you here. On Wednesday, one of the patients whose lives was saved by offering oxygen some time ago, came back from the US to appreciate us. The problem of oxygen in Nigeria is real. If Teaching Hospital is losing lives because of it, how much more smaller hospitals in the villages?”
“That’s why I am really grateful to Mr. Hanson of Startup Innovation Hub for organizing #AKITECH 2021 and to Inoyo Toro Foundation and others for the sponsorship and support. It has really been an amazing opportunity. Techies in Akwa Ibom State need support. Everybody that carries a laptop is not a yahoo boy.”
“With supports and encouragements like this, the tech community in Akwa Ibom can grow faster. Money is like oxygen to tech startups. If we can set the pace, there would be no need to continue to run to Lagos for tech solutions need in the state”.
Uwem Akpan, another tech innovator who specializes in building apps and e-commerce websites for clients and owns a tech company, WillieNuel, noted; “#AKITECH 2021, plus the two-week build and grow camp has given me a new family of persons to work and grow with, as he continues to pursue his tech innovations.
“Since I came back to Akwa Ibom from Lagos, I was like, how would I cope? I didn’t have tech persons around. But I now have a new family. I thank Inoyo Toro Foundation for creating this new family for me.”
For Moses Idara and Awesome Bassey, developers of Iko Ibom, a language solution app designed to enhance learning of Akwa Ibom languages using fun and interactive techniques, whose product won the N500,000 first runner up prize during the pitch competition; the build and grow camp has opened tech innovators to plenty doors of accesses and opportunities.
“We have got access to premium contents and contacts we could not have discovered on our own. It has opened us up to partnership. During the camp, innovation experts who took us through the various sessions, shared opportunities. Just this week, we have got like three job opportunities. We are very appreciative to Startup Innovation Hub for organization, Inoyo Toro Foundation for sponsorship, the African Fintech Academy, and others for this great support”.
The Chief Executive Officer of Start Innovation Hub and initiator of the #AKITECH2021, Mr. Hanson Johnson in his remarks declared the 2021 edition of Akwa Ibom Tech Week as biggest and most impactful, as it featured pitch competition where startup competed to win cash prizes as grants from Inoyo Toro Foundation.
“Preparation they say meet opportunity and this played out in this years AkiTech Week as our seven (7) years of preparation in Start Innovation Hub where we build capacity of technical talents and entrepreneurs, then link them to opportunities and investors globally.
“Start Innovation Hub exists to be a leading source where talents and local businesses in the Niger Delta region draw strength and excellence to innovate for global relevance. We achieve this by providing a conducive environment that supports collaboration and resource sharing among talents, Women and early-stage entrepreneurs. The results have been amazing as we have the talents we have equipped to stay in Uyo, solve problems for companies abroad and attracting foreign direct investments.
“We are unto a new phase where we will harness the skills of these talents to engage and keep them to contribute their skills in developing local businesses. To achieve this, we need funding and support from interested partners,” he said
Recall that Mr. Chulwuemeka Afigbo who was Head of Developer Programs at Facebook when he visited Uyo had stated; “The positive signals out of Uyo is being felt globally and my visit is long overdue. By my judgement, Uyo tech ecosystem is one of the most vibrant in the country related to its size.”