Five startups of Cohort One and two of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), 5-month free intensive incubation programme have secured grants worth about $226,000.
According to the Director General of NITDA, Mr Kashifu Inuwa, Xolani Health (a health tech startup from the first cohort) secured a grant worth $155,000, BetaLife (a health tech startup from the first cohort) secured an angel investment of $60,000, Gifty (an e-commerce startup from the second cohort) got a grant of $8,000 while two other startups from the first and second cohorts respectively, raised a combined total grant of $6,000.
He disclosed that 16 startups that participated in the first and second cohorts achieved remarkable success in the areas of job creation, funding, participation in events, and valuable partnerships which have created a combined total of 179 direct jobs in the span of agriculture, health, education, and e-commerce sectors.
Inuwa who made this known at the IHATCH startup incubation programme Cohort Two and Three demo day opening ceremony, said that besides, the total grant of $45,000 ($15,000 each) for Proof of Concept (POC) to the top three startups in the first cohort, some of the startups have raised some funding through other sources.
He revealed that NITDA is rejigging the incubation programme executed by the ONDI and hosted within the National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR).
He said that the Agency is extending the Cohort 4 of the incubation progeramme to more states across the country thereby giving more young Nigerians the opportunity to enjoy the benefit of the programme.
The incubation programme which will be held simultaneously in Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, Gombe, and Kano and JICA would be extended to each of the 36 States and the FCT when the Fourth Cohort kicks-off, and called on the government of Japan to leverage on the youthful population through strategic talent partnership that will nurture and build a workforce that can be exported.
He stated that over 1,218 applications were received for the Second Cohort but later pruned to 8 startups, comprising 16 persons, a Founder and Co-Founder for each startup, after undergoing levels of rigorous selection process conducted by a panel of judges as well as comprising experts in diverse areas of technology and innovative entrepreneurship.
Inuwa also said that a total of 11,183 applications were received from across the six geopolitical zones for the Third Cohort. This culminated in the selection of the top 8 startups, comprising 16 founders in total that will participate in the Third Cohort.
In a remark, the Minister of Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade and Investment, Doris Nkiruka Uzoka-Anite, who was represented by National Coordinator, National Talent Export Programme, Dr Femi Adeluyi, applauded NITDA for the various initiatives and programs put in place for the advancement of the tech ecosystem in the country.
The Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, who was represented by Yuzurio Susumu Chief of Nigeria Office in his remarks stated that Nigerian startups are demonstrating remarkable creativity and resilience in developing solutions despite the challenges in the country.
He stated that startups are seen as a catalyst for business transformation, bringing fresh ideas, innovative technologies and new employment opportunities.
Japan has the longest history of technological innovation and entrepreneurship has a significant role in supporting the Nigerian system.