Mt Kenya University (MKU) has opened an innovation and research centre at its Thika main campus to support the youth in developing technologies and ideas into world class innovations.

The Centre, which was co-funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union through the African Higher Education Leadership for Advancing Inclusive Innovation for Development is intended to support innovations from inception to market diffusion and commercialisation.

MKU founder Prof Simon Gicharu said it would nurture creativity and innovation, support collaboration, idea generation and value creation as well as offer a platform for connections and networking.

He said the role of technologies and innovations cannot be underestimated in turning developing countries into developed ones and thus the need for the government to provide a facilitative environment for their growth so as to achieve faster growth.

Prof Gicharu encouraged the youth to take advantage of the new hub and similar facilities in the country to come up with innovations and use them to earn.

“These giant economies recognised the role of innovations and technologies and embedded them in their systems early enough. They invested heavily in research and development to support their innovations. That’s the direction our country should take,” he said during the opening Sunday.

The Vice Chancellor Prof Deogratius Jaganyi said the country’s continued economic competitiveness and sustainable development have been achieved by intensifying technological innovations.

He said the centre will admit its first cohort of 20 finalists out of a recently released call for innovation challenge 2022. The innovations will be incubated for six months and will receive support value of up-to Sh2 million for all innovations.

MKU Pro-Chancellor, Dr Vincent Gaitho said the centre will help address unemployment among the youth graduating from institutions of higher learning.

“Harnessing the innovation potential of the youth can drive the economy to double digit growth in a short time. It has been disheartening to produce jobless graduates yet they can tap into technologies and innovations to make a living,” he said.

By Fred Azelwa.