LASG donates N1bn seed fund for startups to LASRIC

Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu of Lagos State on Friday presented a cheque of ₦1 billion as seed fund for startups to the Lagos State Science, Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC)..

Sanwo-Olu made the presentation at the inauguration of members of the newly reconstituted Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC) in Lagos.

He said that the seed funding was for the advancement of scientific innovations in Lagos State.

He emphasised the state’s commitment to supporting innovation, acknowledging Lagos as the home to many promising early-stage and unicorn startups.

Sanwo-Olu said that in the past years, the success metrics in the startup ecosystem in Lagos State had leapfrogged startups in many other cities and countries in Africa.

He said that there had been amazing impacts in Foreign Direct Investment attraction, numbers of startup solutions and patents.

“We are committed to increasing these success metrics with the provision of LASRIC seed fund to the tune of N1,000,000,000 (one billion Naira) – in the first tranche funding to the council.

“We believe this fund will continue to catalyse development in our dear state.

‘’It is my expectation that the new LASRIC Board being inaugurated today will work assiduously towards ensuring the realisation of our collective goals and aspirations,’’ he said.

According to the governor, sustaining the path of the development of Lagos State is the central focus of his administration’s THEMES Agenda.

He said that to drive deeper positive economic outcomes, it became essential to establish an Innovation, Science, and Technology body (LASRIC) to manage and propel Lagos State’s engagement with the science and technology ecosystem.

According to Sanwo-Olu, the LASRIC council is composed of experts from industry, academia and the public sector.

He said that their mission was to deepen and expand innovation activities in Lagos.

“Over the past four years, LASRIC has created over 500 jobs by supporting innovative startups in areas such as AgriTech, the circular economy, climate change and construction tech.

“In research and development, LASRIC has supported more than 70 initiatives, ranging from projects in biomass and biodiesel to artificial intelligence for medical imaging.

“LASRIC’s efforts have increased innovation activity within the state by over 250 per cent,” the governor said.

Sanwo-Olu  added that notably, LASRIC secured the government’s first patent through a multidisciplinary team from the University of Lagos (UNILAG), which worked on the Ambubag Ventilator.

He said that there were many other patent-pending projects underway, adding that these activities highlighted a path toward strengthening his administration’s value creation tenet.

While reconstituting the new LASRIC council, the governor commended the outgoing members of council under the leadership of Prof. Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, Former Vice Chancellor, University of Lagos.

He commended their outstanding performance in laying the foundation and charting the course for the new members of the council to build on.

Sanwo-Olu urged the new members to have a renewed commitment to enhancing the state’s innovation capacity.

He highlighted key areas of focus for the newly reconstituted council, which included increased funding and support, collaboration and partnership.

Some others, he said, included capacity building, focus on local challenge and promotion of culture of innovation.

Also speaking  at the occasion, Mr Olatunbosun Alake, the Commissioner for Innovation, Science and Technology, said that there was a structured assessment for technology companies and startups that could apply for the seed funding.

Alake said that the ministry had developed a system of assessment and Code of Activities called “POEM” for would-be applicants.

“POEM stands for Proposition – what problems are the startups and tech companies solving? Organisation – what kind of skills have been put together to solve the problem?

“The ‘E’ in POEM stands for Economics – does it make business sense? Will it make money? Will people buy it? and ‘M’ stands for Milestone in terms of the building these businesses will have.

“Startups or tech companies that are able to pass this assessment and access the seed funding should be able to solve problems in Lagos State and beyond,” Alake said.

In his acceptance speech, Prof. Olumuyiwa Odusanya, the newly appointed Chairman of LASRIC and Vice-Chancellor, Lagos State University of Science & Technology, expressed his gratitude and outlined his vision for the council’s future.

“It is a call to duty and to work. I am beyond excited for the opportunity to work with great minds to further advance human enterprise.

”We are glad that the government is matching its words with action,” Odusanya said.

A member of the council and Founder, Eko Innovation  Centre, Mr Victor Afolabi, said that being a member of the council was an opportunity to serve, upskill and support startups.

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