Israel has assisted in grooming 66 innovators in Nigeria over the last two years.
The Israeli government did this through it’s Innovative Fellowship for Aspiring Inventors and Researchers. Last year’s during the inauguration of the scheme, tagged i-FAIR 1 21 innovator who came out with their individual prototypes were unearthed after 75 were mentored.
The year which is i-FAIR 2 has 45 innovators birthed from a list of 55 persons mentored.
Speaking to journalists at the Innov8 Centre in Abuja, the Nigerian and Israeli mentors of the Innovative Fellowship for Aspiring Inventors and Researchers (i-FAIR-2), called for adequate investment on youth innovative and research programmes, to tackle poverty.
Briefing journalists on Wednesday on the “Heart of Prototype” development processes in transforming ideas into inventions, the mentors said that it has become imperative to support innovation as it is a key to development and poverty reduction.
One of the mentors, Dr Agu Collins, told Journalists that the initiative started in December, 2021 and currently in the second phase of showcasing the technical processes of building inventions.
Collins, also a Director at the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), commended the determination by the Federal Government and Israel to promote innovation through the establishment of i-FAIR Centre.
He said, “This is an appropriate way to build local content, what I mean by local content is the combination of enabling environment and industry experts, which are some things lacking in Nigeria.
He said: “Israelis who are industry experts that are actually helping the programme participants to develop prototypes; there is a lot we have to learn here as Nigerians.
“We must find ways to replicate the programme initiative across Nigeria; this has become important because we have the human capital of 200 million people.”
He added that: “So, the question is how do you move the people from potential liability to asset, it is by injecting emerging knowledge in them, not only creating an enabling environment.
“Where there can be fusion and cross pollination of ideas with the aid of industry experts.”
In the same vein, Mr Saron Paz, Israeli mentor of i-FAIR practical MakeLAb, said that it has become important to prioritise innovative education to encourage Nigerians to become more creative.
“The future is about today’s population, but the younger generation, the future lies with children right now, if they get the right education, if they get the right opportunity.”
He added that: “Today you do not have to have a lot of money as capital to embark on a project and create prototypes; you can come here if you are 16 years of age, 12 years old or even 10 years old.
“You need to have the right mindset, you need to be creative, you need to be engaging and focused, a lot of things are not related to knowledge, but good mindset.
“The foremost thing is education; this centre is a huge blessing to Nigeria. I hope the government creates more centres to offer people who might not know about this the opportunity.”
In a separate interview, i-FAIR Programme Manager, Neta Hanien, said that the initiative is apt, in terms of encouraging more Nigerians to develop local content.
Neta said: “I think it is time for Nigerian entrepreneurs to develop real solutions right here, because the local people know their needs much better than anyone else.
“We have been focusing on importing solutions from outside, what we are trying to do in i-FAIR is to empower local entrepreneurs and innovators to really turn their ideas into real solutions.
“We do that by engaging mentors and experts from both Nigeria and Israel, and around the world; what makes i-FAIR different is that we are enabling participants access to the innovation centre.
“Where they are getting not only professional support on their business development of their ventures, but also access to technology, machinery and means to turn ideas into real working prototypes.”
Meanwhile, the Communications Advisor of i-FAIRS, Mr Deji Ige, urged Nigerians to keep their hope of having a better country alive through meaningful engagement.
According to him, we should be expecting a very functional and dynamic ecosystem of innovations, inventions and startups in the country.
“The participants come out as fellows of the programme; they come in with good ideas and by the time they are graduating, they go out with innovation and prototypes.
“Many of them become entrepreneurs and many of these prototypes scale up into business enterprises, so Nigerians should expect more wealth, job creation and active participation,” Ige said.
He, however, explained that such could be achieved in their process of transforming ideas into inventions and innovation, especially among the youth.
The I-FAIR-2 programme is an initiative of the Israel Embassy in Nigeria, in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President and Skill G Ltd., Gregory University and DeNovo, private sector-based organisations.