University of Nairobi Hosts Inaugural Faculty Mega Hackathon Ahead of Nairobi Innovation Week 2024

The University of Nairobi is hosting the inaugural faculty-wide hackathon as part of the preparations for the upcoming 8th edition of the Nairobi Innovation Week (NIW) 2024. The Hackathon is scheduled to run from April 3 to 5, 2024  at the UoN Towers, this three-day event is designed to cultivate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship among both students and faculty members. Aligned with the theme of Nairobi Innovation Week, which focuses on “Strengthening the Innovation Ecosystem through Government-Industry-Academia Linkages for Sustainable Development,” the hackathon is poised to address critical societal challenges.

Prof. Stephen Kiama, the Vice Chancellor, officially launched the Hackathon, underscoring its role in the university’s innovation and commercialization agenda. He emphasized the need to structure pedagogy around empowering students to create wealth and opportunities, stating, “We must structure our pedagogy around how to give students value that enables them to create wealth and opportunities.”

Speaking at the Opening ceremony, Prof. Mary Kinoti, Director, Intellectual Property Management Office; aptly summarized: “Hackathons break barriers between faculty and students, fostering innovation, communication and collaboration as we all strive for success.” The Faculty Mega Hackathon has garnered an overwhelming response, with a record-breaking 179 teams comprising approximately 500 students from across all 10 faculties participating. This unprecedented level of engagement highlights the university’s commitment to nurturing entrepreneurial mindsets and fostering impactful solutions.

In preparation for the hackathon, the University’s Intellectual Property Management Office, in collaboration with our industry partner Startinev, conducted a three-day intensive Training of Trainers (ToT) program in March 2024. This initiative equipped 50 UoN students and staff with comprehensive skills in innovation principles, business development, and creating sustainable business ideas, enabling them to organize and manage hackathons effectively.

The hackathon commenced with an insightful panel discussion titled “From Campus to Company,” featuring startup pioneers who shared their inspirational journeys. Panelists included; Prof. Mary Kinoti (Director of Intellectual Property Management), Magothe Innocent (CEO, Startinev), Benaiah Wepundi (CEO, Payd HQ), and Dean Gichukie (CGO, Quikk API). Moderated by Charity Mbithe, the panel emphasized the paramount importance of execution in bringing ideas to life, highlighting the university’s role as an ecosystem enabler, connecting students with industry players and academic mentors.

Over the three-day hackathon, participants will engage in various activities, including panel sessions, masterclasses, team formation and idea development, as well as pitching sessions. The event aims to provide a platform for students and staff to showcase their ideas, collaborate, gain valuable mentorship, and potentially launch successful startups.

The Faculty Mega Hackathon is a significant step towards UoN’s goal of instilling innovation, commercialization, and entrepreneurial thinking in its students. This initiative empowers students to create not just academic papers but also market-ready ventures with real-world impact, bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application.

As the hackathon unfolds, participants will have the opportunity to network, collaborate, and receive guidance from industry experts and academic mentors. The event serves as a valuable platform for nurturing innovative ideas, fostering teamwork, and developing entrepreneurial skills essential for success in today’s dynamic business landscape.

The University of Nairobi’s commitment to fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem is evident through initiatives like the Faculty Mega Hackathon and the upcoming Nairobi Innovation Week 2024. These events not only encourage innovation and critical thinking but also facilitate the commercialization of university innovations, contributing to the overall sustainable development of the region.