5 Things We Learnt from Our Research & Development Clinic Day

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Seth Mundhe, CEO of EJenzi ponders during his session with 14 Trees, a LafargeHolcim and CDC Group joint venture.

The ShelterTech Accelerator program recently hosted a Research and Development Clinic, ahead of Demo Day, to help businesses in the cohort have one-to-one sessions with experts and get a broader perspective and diagnosis on pain points in their businesses and how to address them. The R&D Clinic saw startups meet with legal experts, commercial and industry experts and government.

Government representatives included:The National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND), a state corporation under the Kenyan Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI), which is a government parastatal that administers Intellectual Property rights in Kenya and Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), a national research institution established in 1979 under the Science, Technology and Innovation Act.

Businesses received one-to-one analysis on the state of their businesses and given feedback on the way forward

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William Agan sharing his legal expertise.

Businesses sat with Agan & Associates, a law firm based in Kenya, as they were taken through potential legal pain points and how to address them. Mr. William Agan, a reputable lawyer, analyzed and explained to the businesses their different legal needs and requirements. Based on their business stage level and their propositions, businesses were able to know how to manage innovations i.e. intellectual property rights, contracts and agreements with third party groups and shareholder agreements among other potential legal challenges.

The Kenya Industrial Property Institute (KIPI), which has been mandated to administer industrial property rights, took the businesses through the process of patenting their innovations and intellectual property rights including the procedures that exist to support that process. During the Clinic, they further provided lessons to the businesses on the different approaches they can undertake to ensure their intellectual property rights are not violated including provisions in the law such as the Trademarks Act Cap 506 that deals with registration of Trade and Service Marks.

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Nzambi Matee, Gjenge Makers, shares her business pain points to a representative from KIRDI

With support from the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI), a national research institution established in 1979, businesses had one-on-one interaction with the experts to understand the different methodologies needed to undertake quality research. KIRDI offers multi-disciplinary research and development in industrial and allied technologies including; Mechanical Engineering, Energy and Power Resources, Leather Technologies, Textile Technology, Industrial Chemistry Environment, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Food Technology, Ceramics and Clay Technologies, Information Communication & Technology (ICT) and Mining. From their wide scope of knowledge in research and development, businesses were further taken through on how to tap into their resources such as accessing journals on Ceramics and Building Materials and access to programs and technical trainings run by KIRDI.

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Representatives from NETFUND during the R&D Clinic

The National Environment Trust Fund (NETFUND), a State Corporation established by the Environmental Management and Coordination Act of 1999,coordinates environmental sector players to create synergy to deliver well researched initiatives competently for effective environmental management in Kenya.

Based on this mandate, NETFUND stepped in to offer guidance to businesses to give them direction on how to ensure they are creating sustainable innovations. Additionally, the startups were individually capacity built on interventions that have been uptaken in the market and the opportunities that exist such as linkages to industry experts. NETFUND, further provided information on their research on Renewable Energy and how businesses can use this knowledge to further understand why Kenyan households and adoption on renewable energy. The Research can be found here.

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Colm Halley, General Manager at 14 Trees shares moment during the session

Mr. Colm Halley from 14Trees, a LafargeHolcim and CDC Group joint venture dedicated to accelerating the provision of affordable housing in Africa, assisted businesses to understand how their innovations should be addressing the challenges highlighted by industry experts. Colm Halley shared on how businesses can carry their innovations to the market and how to scale, drawing from being a part of LafargeHolcim, the world leader in building materials. Mr. Halley directed particularly, the businesses to take advantage of the market opportunities that exist.

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Mr. Isaac Kamau, CEO of the Vlage, listens in during the Get Inspired Session

In the afternoon, following the R&D Clinic, businesses sat with Mr. Kevin Kyellenge to get insights on how to scale. Kevin, the Founder of Container Design Africa, has been successfully building alternative home options using containers. Kevin sat with the businesses to share on his journey and what lessons he has picked from the experience. The businesses gained further practical knowledge on how the housing market in Kenya works and what steps they can take to grow. Mr. Kevin also validated their entrepreneurship experience by offering his own personal anecdotes that resonated with the entrepreneurs and inspired them to keep innovating and building.

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