Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) Eastern Africa Resilience Innovation Lab  (EA RI Lab) hosted the 2nd Innovations Advisory Board meeting on Wednesday March 16, 2016 at the RAN Innovation Lab on Plot 30 Upper Kololo Terrace.The meeting which was held from 9:20 am to 1:00 pm EAT brought together 10 multidisciplinary board members with representation from National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO), Bank of Uganda, National Information Technology Authority (NITA), Grofin, Makerere University, Electricity Regulatory Authority (ERA), Uganda Communications Commission and Nation Council of Science and Technology among others.

It is exciting to note and share that the EA RI Lab is now at a critical time of reaching out to impact investors, venture capitalists and private equity firms among others to support innovative projects under incubation  to penetrate the market through to scale. This among other activities fit well with RAN’s mandate of moving the Universities from the Universities to the communities. The EA RI Lab Innovation Advisory Board meeting aimed at leveraging board members expertise in contributing to taking innovation beyond innovation with the aim of realizing innovation growth in Africa and beyond. These efforts too resonate well with RAN’s initiative to support, nurture and scale innovative solutions that solve communities’ most pressing challenges.

This meeting was a platform to;

  • Define and co-create essential functions and elements of a “scaling bridge” for the EA RI Lab
  • Articulate RAN’s core value proposition to funders and partners
  • Understand the goals and overall work plan for advancing RAN’s Scaling Strategy

The Innovation Advisory Boards at all the RAN Resilience Innovation Labs were constituted to continuously support and guide the Innovation pipeline at Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN).

Meeting participants agreed on the following among others;

  • That there is need to review the Monitoring and Evaluation indicators in order to ascertain whether the Team had achieved the earlier set indicators in order to scale up. That it was vital for all to know from which level the Innovations were being scaled, how much the communities had been or are being involved and whether we have a critical mass of innovations with great potential for scale. Look at the business aspects before moving into scaling in order not to skip a step.
  • Need for more publicity of the impact already created by the Innovative projects under incubation before moving to scale. That once very well known, engaging scaling partners would be simpler while giving reference to the already known.
  • Additionally, offer business development support so that the innovative projects become sustainable and commercially viable. That the Innovative projects themselves need to be very well known, categorized into which ones need support and determine the support, offer business training while planning which donors or potential scaling partners to approach. Following this sequence of activities would yield more and better.
  • Need to further explore leveraging from the institutions in which the Innovation Advisory Board members work or offer service. That RAN has access to talent and need but requires access to investors, coaches, mentors, sponsors among others who can be vital in scaling projects.
  • Also explore leveraging support for Innovation from the Ministry of Planning & Economic Development in Uganda. Pull from the set aside resource envelop to support Innovations.

The power of partnership and collaboration throughout the Innovation Pipeline cannot be underestimated. Together each greatly contributes to the pool and achieves more.

Dr. Dorothy Okello, RAN Director Innovation, joined the RAN team to sincerely thank the Innovation Advisory Board members for committedly serving on the Board,  actively participating in this meeting and willingness to be part of the team working on the next ‘Game Changers’ from Uganda, Africa and beyond.