The Lagos State Government has doled out N100 million grants to tech startups and science research initiatives. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu had earlier announced N250 million for tech and innovative ideas in the State.
The Governor had outlined six pillars of development for the state that include developing innovative tech ideas and fostering scientific research. It is part of the government’s Smart City plan that is designed to transform Lagos into a 21st digital economy.
Under the care of Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC), the grant is given to universities in the state with verifiable research pitches and innovators with cutting-edge tech ideas.
The first set of the beneficiaries are expected to proffer solutions to many of the challenges facing the State, including insecurity, environmental hygiene, agricultural technology and COVID-19 containment.
Sanwo-Olu said the initiative aligns with his vision of transforming the State into a Smart City, and urged the recipients of the grants to live up to expectation.
“In December 2019, seven months into the tenure of this administration, we inaugurated the Lagos State Science Research and Innovation Council, (LASRIC), with a seed fund of 250 million naira, in demonstration of our commitment to developing Lagos into a 21st century digital economy and Smart City.
“You are all aware the T.H.E.M.E.S agenda of our administration, which sets out the vision for the work that this administration has been elected to do on behalf of the people of Lagos State.
“The first ‘E’ and the ‘M’ represent ‘Education and Technology,’ and ‘Making Lagos a 21st Century Economy,’ the twin elements that underpin the network of the Lags State Research and Innovation Council.”
The Governor explained that science and technology remain key to his administration’s aim to make Lagos a Smart City and to develop the State in line with modern practices.
Candidates whose applications were unsuccessful were encouraged by the Governor to enroll again, as he promised to increase the fund with time to accept more innovators.
At the conception of the initiative, the state government had promised a transparent process of selecting the beneficiaries. Olatunbosun Alake, Special Adviser to the Governor on Innovation and Technology said only 23 applicants were selected out of hundreds. He explained that the process was transparent even though it’s highly competitive.
Among those selected were PricePally, a food aggregation platform, Doci-HealthCare, GiVo, a circular economy company that offers recycling solutions on IOT devices.
Vanguard listed the names of the research initiatives that include Bioprospecting for anti-COVID-19 remedies from indigenous medicinal plants, led by Abimbola Sowemimo at The African Center of Excellence for Drug Research, Development of Hydrogen Peroxide Biosensors for Detecting Post-harvest Deterioration and Preparation of Chitosan-Derived materials for Cassava Shelf-life Elongation, led by Wesley Okiel at the University of Lagos, and The Production of Fortified Municipal Solid Waste Derived Compost (MSW-C) for amending Soil to improve Nutrient Release and Plant Growth, led by Akeem Abayomi at UniLag, among others.
LASRIC Chairman, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the initiative is an evidence of the governor’s commitment to the State’s development through innovative ideas. He added that the event is also an evidence of the innovativeness of Lagosians.
However, as applause greeted the successful applicants upon receiving their checks, others worry if the initiative will be sustained. There has been a lot of concern about Lagos State policies on tech and innovative businesses recently that many believe that the future of innovative ideas is not assured in the State.
The ban on motorbike ridesharing business in the State and the recent taxation imposed on e-hailing taxis are regarded as anti-innovation policies capable of discouraging inventors from establishing their ideas in Lagos.
There is concern that, although the ideas have been funded through the state government’s grants, future policies may hinder the growth.