Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who appears driven by his pursuit of a developmental agenda anchored on turning the state into a 21st century digital economy and smart city, oiled the wheel of this pursuit recently with the award of N100 million worth of innovation grants to start-ups and science research initiatives from various universities in the state.
The governor is hoping to deliver on six pillars of a development agenda he has set for his administration in the state that is widely regarded as the poster-state for drawing example of political leadership in the country, and for which he believes that fuelling technology-driven innovations will help transform Lagos into a 21st-century digital economy and smart city.
Last December when the maiden edition of the Art of Technology (AOT Lagos 1.0) was held Sanwo-Olu announced a N250 million grant for science and technology-related ideas and initiatives and it was from the ashes of that announcement that the fulfillment had come about through this set of N100 million grants.
A statement issued on the award described the beneficiaries of LASRIC grant as innovating and solving problems in the area of food security, manufacturing, health management, and COVID-19 alleviation, adding that they are the first set to be picked to benefit from the N250 million seed fund earmarked, last year, as Research and Innovation Fund by the state government.
It further disclosed that the fund for the grants is under the care of the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), an agency established with the mandate to facilitate and encourage the development of innovative solutions to solve local problems, using cutting-edge technology. It added that the fund is specifically set up to resource innovation, science and technology ecosystem.
Governor Sanwo-Olu, congratulating the recipients of the grant, said the initiative aligns with his administration’s vision in turning the state into a technology hub and therefore urged the recipients to use the grant judiciously.
“In December 2019 seven months into the tenure of this administration, we inaugurated the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC) with a seed fund of N250 million, in demonstration of our commitment to develop Lagos into a 21st-century digital economy and Smart City.
“You are all aware of the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda of our administration, which sets out the vision for the work that this administration has been elected to do on behalf of the people of Lagos State. The first ‘E’, and the ‘M’ represent ‘Education and Technology’, and ‘Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy’, the twin elements that underpin the work of the Lagos State Research and Innovation Council,” he stated.
He added that science and technology remain key enablers to transform the socio-economic and that his administration was on course to delivering good governance and bettering the lives of Lagosians.
“Here in Lagos State, we are on the journey of properly identifying, resourcing, enabling and building the great human potential of Lagos State. Flagship projects such as the Metro fibre and the Smart City initiative are key enablers for achieving this. We are also working to transforming our Civil Service by encouraging innovative thinking and deploying technology tools and processes. LASRIC, and all of you its beneficiaries, are positioned to be a vital part of this important journey,” the governor said.
Sanwo-Olu urged unsuccessful applicants not to lose hope, charging them to re-apply for the grant in the next round of selection, adding that the state government would be increasing the grant to accommodate more innovators in the subsequent application.
Olatunbosun Alake, special adviser to the governor on innovation and technology, speaking on the transparency of the judging process, said it was highly competitive and that out of hundreds of applications, 23 were selected to advance the cause of innovation and science research.
Some of the notable innovation beneficiaries were “PricePally” a food aggregating platform, “DoCi-HealthCare”, “GiVo”, a circular economy company that offers recycling solutions on IOT devices. On the other hand, research initiatives were made up of “Bioprospecting for anti COVID-19 remedies from indigenous medicinal plants” led by Abimbola Sowemimo at The African Centre of Excellence for Drug Research; “Development of Hydrogen Peroxide Biosensors for Detecting Post Harvest Deterioration and Preparation of Chitosan-Derived Materials for Cassava Shelf-life Elongation” led by Wesley Okiel at the University of Lagos and “The Production of Fortified Municipal Solid Waste Derived Compost (MSW-C) for Amending Soil to Improve Nutrient Release and Plant Growth” led by Akeem Abayomi at UNILAG.
“These recipients today represent key research initiatives and innovative start-ups ready and qualified to be resourced for the development of Lagos, and indeed the world. Let us have no doubt that this event today is the first in many of this administration’s support and development of the science and technology ecosystem. In understanding and harnessing our environment, in solving our problems, in lifting people out of poverty, in advancing in knowledge, let us understand that today marks another milestone in the journey of a thousand miles. This here is tangible development,” he explained.
Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, a professor and chairman of LASRIC noted that the event is a testimony of the governor’s commitment to the development of innovative thinking to solve our everyday problems. He added that the event also shows that there is ingenuity among Lagosians when provided the opportunity.
Beneficiaries could not hide their joy, following the presentation of cheques to them by the governor. They were full of praises for the government.
Aisha Raheem, co-founder, Farmz2U, a farm management platform, who received N5 million grant said: “The process was rigorous, insightful. We went through interview process with Mrs. Solape, Mr. Tomi Davies and other mentors. It is great to have emerged a winner. It just gives me hope that there is more that can be achieved in Lagos State. I do hope that this is something that exponents across the country because truly innovation is how countries speed-track their developments. And I am confident that Lagos State is on track to achieve that.”
Also speaking, Luther Lawoyin, founder/CEO at Pricepally.com, a digital food cooperative platform who also received N5 million grant said: “It feels good to be part of this process. It is a fund for us to continue what we are doing. Importantly, it speaks to the fact that the state government recognizes the place of technology in tackling the numerous challenges in the society. Encouraging people in the technology circle means a lot and I hope they do more because funding is a big deal in this ecosystem. This kind of gesture from the government will have ripple effects.”