Innovation Support Network (ISN) hubs recently concluded its highly anticipated 5th Annual Gathering, a hallmark event dedicated to showcasing innovation and collaboration within Nigeria’s thriving innovation ecosystem. Held from September 13 to 15, 2023, at the prestigious Shehu Musa Yar’adua Centre in Abuja, this year’s theme, “Unlocking Potential: Collaborating for Growth and Impact,” brought together a diverse community of innovators, entrepreneurs, policymakers, and industry leaders.
Innovation Support Network (ISN Hubs) is an organization focused on creating linkages with corporates, development partners, academia, and government to catalyze Nigeria’s innovation ecosystem through its community of 168 innovation, technology, impact, and entrepreneurship Hubs across the country.
The event buzzed with insightful and captivating discussions, underscoring the pivotal role that innovation hubs play in advancing Nigeria’s economic landscape. A notable highlight of the occasion was the Annual General Meeting (AGM), a momentous gathering where we celebrated outgoing Board Directors who had completed their dedicated terms of service.
Among these esteemed individuals were Mr. Hanson Johnson, the outgone director of ecosystem and the Founder of Start Innovation Hub; Mal. Abdulganiyu Rufai Yakub, the outgone director of corporate and the founder of Digital Development Hub; Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, the outgone director of marketing and the cofounder of Go Do Hub, Madam Fayo Williams, the outgone finance director and the driving force behind Exponential Hub; and Charles Emembolu, the Co-Founder of Roar Nigeria Hub.
The AGM also witnessed the introduction of a new Executive Director, Oge Nnaife who would be leading the ISN Secretariat and bringing in her expertise into deepening the network’s footprints within the ecosystem as the thought leader and catalyst for innovation, technology and entrepreneurship as well as the election of a new cohort of Board Directors, each bringing their unique talents and perspectives to the table.
Charles Emembolu, the Co-Founder of Roar Nigeria Hub, assumed the role of Director for Partnerships, while Maryam Lawan Gwadabe, the visionary Founder of Blue Sapphire Hub, took up the mantle as Director for Corporate. Edward Esene, the Founder of Plus Incubation Hub, stepped into the role of Director for Marketing, and Blessing Ebere Achu, the Founder of 360 Creative Innovation Hub, assumed the position of Director for Finance. Theodore Longji, the CEO of nHub, was elected as Director for Ecosystem.
The AGM served as the backdrop for these momentous transitions and reflections on our collective achievements. Held at the Nigerian Army Resort Centre in Asokoro, the event garnered remarkable attendance, with over 130 individuals coming together to celebrate the spirit of innovation and collaboration that defines our thriving community.
On the second day of the event, the gathering itself showcased an impressive lineup of speakers and panelists. Keynotes were delivered by distinguished individuals such as Finland’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Leena Pylvänäinen, Director General of NITDA, Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, CCIE (represented by Yakuba Musa), National Coordinator of ONDI, Head of Project at GIZ Digital Transformation Center, Nigeria, Dr Thuweba Diwani and Khalil Suleiman Halilu, Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of NASENI.
The event also featured dynamic panel discussions, bringing together representatives from various sectors including government and private industry leaders like Obi Asika and Atunyota Alleluya Akpobome, professionally known as Alibaba, development partners, academia, and innovation hubs. These discussions delved into the myriad ways in which collaboration with stakeholders can magnify the impact of the hubs’ initiatives and achievements.
Chukwuemeka Fred Agbata, the outgoing Marketing Director, shared his enthusiasm, emphasizing ISN Hubs’ mission to promote collaboration, inspire, and support Nigerian hubs in fostering a diversified economy that champions technological development, innovation, and early-stage entrepreneurship. The Annual Gathering served as a platform to showcase the outstanding work of network members in driving value across the nation while fostering opportunities for impactful partnerships.
Panel sessions during the event tackled topics such as the domestication and implementation of the Nigeria Startup Act, the state of the impact ecosystem in Nigeria, strategies for driving inclusive economic growth through effective partnerships, harnessing diverse expertise for innovation and sustainable growth, corporate innovation, and more. Additionally, the event featured a parallel session called the Deal Room, where 12 startups, selected from a pool of 560 applications, pitched their ideas to potential investors for potential funding of up to $200,000. Four startups emerged as winners and are currently engaged in discussions with investors.
The final day of the event included an enlightening Innovation Ecosystem tour in Abuja. Members of the ISN community visited notable locations such as Work and Connect, Ventures Park, and Innov8 Hub.
In summary, the AGM, Annual event, and Abuja Ecosystem tour provided the backdrop for significant transitions, reflections on collective achievements, networking, bond-building, and the invaluable sharing of experiences and knowledge. This event marked a crucial milestone in the journey of ISN Hubs towards fostering innovation and collaboration for the betterment of Nigeria’s economic landscape.