Undergraduates, schools to win N66m in NCDMB/Enactus technology challenge

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A princely sum of N66,000,000 will be won by the best undergraduate teams,  academic guides and higher institutions in the Nigerian Content Science and Technology Innovation Challenge (STIC), a competition launched on Thursday by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) in partnership with Enactus Nigeria.

The competition seeks to motivate and challenge Nigerian undergraduates to imbibe the culture of research and development and apply science, technology and innovation to create home-grown business solutions to everyday problems in the oil and gas industry and different sectors of the Nigerian economy.

The best student team will win N10,000,000 and business incubation, while their academic guide will get a cash prize of N1,750,000 and laptop. Their university will get a winner’s trophy and research development centre.

The first runner up group will get N4,000,000 andbusiness incubation, while their faculty guide will get N500,000. Similarly, the third placed team will win N1,500,000 while their faculty guide will get N200,000.

Speaking at the launch of the Nigerian Content STIC contest in Lagos, the Executive Secretary of the NCDMB, Engr. Simbi Kesiye Wabote, described it as one of the several initiatives the Board is implementing to develop indigenous capabilities.

“We believe that tapping from the ingenuity of our young talents, we will enhance the delivery of the various strategic initiatives enunciated in our 10 Year Strategic Roadmap.”

He emphasized that “with about 170 public and private universities in Nigeria producing more than half a million graduates every year, we see huge opportunities to extract brilliant ideas from our agile and very creative youths to solve current and future challenges.”

He added that “The mission of ENACTUS is to ‘engage the next generation of entrepreneurial leaders to use innovation and business principles to improve the world.’ Our interest is to catalyse this for the Nigerian youths.”

Noting that the world was already in the era of cloud computing, Internet of Things, Robotics and Big Data, where Technology and innovation have revolutionized the business environment and tech firms are beginning to worth more and earn much more than the conventional businesses, Wabote challenged Nigerians to position themselves for the technological changes.

In his words, “We need to prepare and position our young minds and talents for the 4th industrial revolution that is about to take place. The competition is open to Nigerian undergraduates from any of the accredited universities and polytechnics in the country.”

Wabote hinted that NCDMB has always targeted most of its initiatives towards the youth, in line with its mandate and in recognition of the pivotal role that youths play as the workforce of the nation He added that over the period of 10 years the Board had existed, about 10 million training man hours have been utilized to train youths under project-based training and direct-training programs.

Also speaking, the Country Director, Enactus Nigeria, Mr. Michael Ajayi described STIC as a timely initiative that will positively engage the Nigerian youths and enable them create wealth, job opportunities and innovative solutions for everyday problems in different sector of the nation’s economy.

“Those interested in taking advantage of the business development support available through this programme for the transformation of their innovative ideas into sustainable business ventures should visit: www.stic.org.ng and submit their applications,” he said

Ajayi indicated that the STIC is scheduled to run for a seven-month period, from submission of applications online, to regional competitions and then to the grand finale. He reiterated that winners of the STIC will gain access to funding, business incubation, mentorship, and training that will accelerate the journey from business ideation to the market.

The event featured a panel session on “Leveraging Technology and Innovation to drive social impact and sustainable economic growth.” The discussants included Engr Simbi Wabote; Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Mr. Olukayode Pitan; Executive Secretary, Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSTEF) Mrs. Teju Abisoye; and co-founder and former Group Executive Director, Sahara Group, Mr. Tonye Cole.