Tanzanian innovation lab and accelerator Smart Lab is working hard on linking startups with corporate partners to empower solutions that could create an impact for local communities.
Smart Lab runs a host of programmes, involving both startups and learning institutions, designed to develop innovative solutions.
It then looks to connect these innovators with funders, as well as potential corporate partners. Manager Juliana Kayombo said the aim was to avoid the talent of Tanzanian innovators going to waste.
“Every year we have a lot of university students that are required to create a project, and some create a prototype before graduating. The projects are then abandoned at universities without any proper plan to develop them further,” she said.
“This has been happening for years, and after seeing a gap in the ecosystem on having great startups we researched the reasons why these projects never produce working startups and decided to create Smart Lab to cover that gap and help the right solutions to connect with the market.”
To do this Smart Lab operates at both ends – working with universities to ensure they produce good startups, and then linking those startups with corporates in need of their solutions.
The hub does not fund startups, but rather prepares them to be investor-ready.
“We connect them with funders and investors so that they can be prepared to create solutions that corporates need, and also link them with the right partners,” Kayombo said.
She believes Smart Lab’s model is very sustainable.
“We ensure that we are strategically selecting startups and solutions that will act as value added services to our corporate and partner network,” said Kayombo.
“Our plan is to create programmes and models that facilitate startups to success, that will act as a case study to launch into other markets across Africa in 2019.”