“Innovation is change that unlocks new value”- Jamie Notter Imagine a 5-day convergence of 750 startups, from 75 countries, and 100 mentors in the same venue with 400 investors from around the global. The picture depicted is exactly what the 2019 GITEX technology week in Dubai is all about. GITEX, hosted at the World Trade Center in Dubai, is a meeting place for startups, investors and the entrepreneurial ecosystem as a whole. It is the biggest tech & Innovation show in the Middle East, North Africa & South Asia and the Conference theme for this year is “Synergizing the Mind and Technology Economy”.
The GITEX conference provides access to mentorship, collaboration and gives vendors an estimated $100+ billion market. It gives startups the opportunity to meet like minds, prospective investors and creates a healthy environment that fosters partnerships and economic growth. If you are business minded, an innovation enthusiast or tech inclined, you may have a better picture and understanding of the endless benefits of attending the world conference. GITEX is the right place to find partners and customers and the best place to know about the latest technologies in the world.
Nigeria’s delegation to the week-long event is made up Senior Government Officials from the Ministry of Communications and the National Information and Technology Development Agency, NITDA through its Office for ICT, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, OIIE. This is the 8th  consecutive year Nigeria has sent a delegation the conference and as is customary, a group of startups made up entrepreneurs, tech enthusiasts and innovators are a part of this year’s delegation.
Interestingly, for the first time, GITEX Tech Week will feature a combined conference program, bringing the best of both worlds – tech titans and startups – in one truly empowering agenda. Consequently, NITDA through OIIE designed a scholarship program to expose Nigerian entrepreneurs and brands in the global space thus creating an opportunity for economic development through innovation.
The call for application opened on the 22nd of July 2019 for six weeks and was well publicized across Print & digital media, and the national network of innovation hubs across Nigeria. A total of 168 applications were received and reviewed by the OIIE team to eliminate those that did not meet the requirements. 45 out of the 168 applications were selected for the next stage of the selection using the criteria below.
• Creativity – Is the product/ service/ solution/ technology innovative?
• Potential – Does the product/ service/ solution have the capability of attracting investment?
• Functionality – Does the product/ service/ solution solve a problem it is meant to solve?
• Goodness – Is the product/ service/ solution/ technology beneficial?
• Traction – Has the startup grown traction since inception?
• Team – Does the startup have a good team structure?
A review panel made up representatives from the academia, industry experts, and angel investors hubs were invited to screen the 45 selected startups.
1. Dr. Fatima Abdullahi – ABU, Zaria
2. Mr. Adepegba Oduntan – Oracle, Nigeria
3. Ms. Amina Abubakar – Abuja Angel Investor
4. Mr. Taofeeq Olatunji – Harmony Hub
At this stage, prototype testing and viability of ideas, as well as the level of traction gained was the criteria used for selection and the teams were further cut to top 20.
In the final stage, OIIE engaged GITEX consultants and Dubai World Trade Centre consultants to arrange the top 20 based on GITEX best fit. After 3 days of reviewing all submissions on their merit, the final six selections were picked by the GITEX & Dubai World Trade Center consultants.
The Startups & their Ideas
Start Up Sector About the Startup
Blue Circle of Notitia Health Blue Circle is a solution that digitizes patients’ medical history. It uses AI to analyze the records and allows doctors check and follow up on patient using SMS & USSD codes.
247 Medics Health 247 Medics connects doctors with patients across Nigeria within a maximum waiting time of 10 minutes. It provides auxiliary services including lab testing and door-step delivery of drugs.
Zowasel AgriTech Zowasel provides access to alternate financing and premium markets for all players of the agricultural value chain.
Chiniki Guard Security An AI based security solution for retail stores and supermarkets to monitor, detect, and alert shop owners of shoplifting and suspicious behavior in real time
Naira Packet Fintech A solution that reduces the costs of micro transactions in Nigeria. It is also a secure crowdfunding and donation platform that offers escrow payment services for SME businesses.
Sublime Square IOT & Waste Management An IOT device and online platform designed to ensure an efficient and faster waste evacuation and management.
Boot Camp
In order to improve the pitch decks and skills of the startups as well as trainings on Investor relations and negotiations amongst others, OIIE organized a comprehensive and intensive 7-day boot camp in Abuja for between the 26th of September and the 3rd of October 2019. The startups were groomed on a one-on-one basis on how to improve their Business models, strategies and revenue streams. Simply put, all startups were made to become “investment worthy” Nwachuku Nnamdi & Ahmad Bature both of whom are young and professional key players in the Abuja & Kano entrepreneurial ecosystems were engaged alongside other mentors including previous entrepreneurs who had attended the GITEX conference under NITDA-OIIE sponsorship.
According to Stephen Osawaru, Founder 247 “It has been a fantastic experience; one that has definitely improved my strategy and business model. The relationship I have built within this short period has been very helpful and I cannot wait to showcase our inventions, gain investment and do Nigeria proud”.
The National Coordinator, Office of ICT, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, OIIE, Dr. Amina Sambo-Magaji, took time to highlight the benefits of attending the conference and why the government is supporting young and innovative minds. “It is an opportunity for our innovators to learn from 250 of the biggest tech minds on stage, be a part of power-packed keynote sessions and over 290 hours of debating, pitching and discussing major trends: security, Healthcare, Marketing & Fintech. It is genuinely a golden opportunity. NITDA through OIIE is providing a full scholarship for the startups to attend and exhibit at the GITEX technology conference in Dubai. First of all, founders of the various Startups were transported from across Nigeria and converged in Abuja where their training fees, feeding and hospitality were all catered for by NITDA. The scholarship further covers an all-expense paid trip to the Dubai conference including local ground transport, hotel and accommodation.
According to one of the CEOs, “I never knew OIIE existed and when I saw the Ads I applied, just for the sake of applying. I never really expected anything out of it” Jerry Oche, Founder/ CEO Zowasel. NITDA through the OIIE will coordinate and monitor startups to ensure they have the best experience at GITEX.
The world’s first firefighting drone, the first autonomous electric truck and Microsoft’s AI innovations–these are just a few of the incredible technological breakthroughs revealed at GITEX 2018. Collaborations and endorsement deals worth way over 50 million USD have been signed and sealed year in-year out according to the World Trade Center in Dubai. This provides a huge opportunity for the startups and entrepreneurs who will be representing Nigeria at the conference.
The value of such exposure can neither be overemphasized nor underestimated. The 2019 edition promises to be bigger and bolder with a lineup of creative exhibitors, unparalleled networking opportunities and future-forward talks on the evolving landscape of technology. It also provides an opportunity for over 700 startups to receive funding, generate more jobs globally, and create value through innovation.


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