Nairobi’s C4DLab to function as incubator-cum-accelerator

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The C4DLab incubator at the University of Nairobi has announced it is to function as an incubator-cum-accelerator after concluding a long review of its own activities.

C4DLab, which launched in 2013, has been in a phase of self-reflection recently, with Disrupt Africa reporting last week the hub said it is looking to run on a lean model until it reaches a break-even point.

Alongside the University of Nairobi, it has also been rethinking its business model, with the university developing an incubation policy it says will allow it to better support young entrepreneurs.

C4DLab said the “bold and necessary move” of deciding to focus on acceleration as well as incubation follows the key recommendations of a recent study carried out on performance of its startups.

“That, among other things, if the lab was to be seen as doing anything as regards successful incubation and innovation, it had to consider the following: startup acceleration, productive faculty engagement, partnerships, funding as well as branding and positioning,” it said.

By initiating a startup acceleration programme, C4DLab says it stands to benefit from the enabling institutional and national contexts for innovation, the wide multi-disciplinarity and strong research capability of the University of Nairobi, and its huge alumni, student and staff base as potential customers, among other things.

The type of acceleration offered will begin at “pre-incubation” stage, and also include “early-stage acceleration” and “growth stage”.

The study had suggested management should establish an innovation and enterprise acceleration centre in order to develop a “rich and vibrant pre-incubation community”.

C4DLab also plans to engage in research, to create an environment attracting faculty members to business incubation and acceleration investors, while institutionalising product development and startup creation.

“Private sector, government and innovation ecosystem partnerships will also be pursued, while ensuring they add value to the lab’s operations,” the hub said.

“Further, when C4DLab implements a funding programme, it will have to provide appropriate and adequate capital for its startups. Finally, the lab will have to develop a compelling C4DLab brand.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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