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06 December 2019

Lagos okays N250m for research, an innovation council

The Lagos State government on Thursday said it has voted N250million for its agency for speeding up innovation, the Lagos State Science, Research and Innovation Council (LASRIC) for use by innovators in the state.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu who spoke while declaring open, Art of Technology Lagos 1.0 at Oriental Hotel, Lekki, also said the state government will build metropolitan fiber optic cables to deepen broadband penetration in the state.

He said the government is committed to the re-ignition of LASRIC which is responsible for the management of the science research and innovation fund. He said: “This fund is primarily tasked with investment in research and development in science and technology across different thematic areas in the state. From Artificial Intelligence (AI) to robotics, to health informatics and green energy. LASRIC will direct funds to solve issues of national significance through science and technology research.”

The governor said the administration cannot disaffirm the intractable challenges facing the state. With a population of about 22 million and a crumbling infrastructure, new sustainable methods of transportation and infrastructure deployment must be formulated to keep up with the population growth.

“The use of AI to predict the movement of human resources and materials and reverse environmental degradation are critical solutions we need to adopt. Our challenges put us in a unique position to engineer not just our own solutions but engineer solutions for the world at large. In view of these and other issues, our administration is committed to releasing and turbocharging our nascent problem-solving potential through innovations in science and technology. This government is launching the Innovation Master Plan which will highlight the government’s critical focus areas that will unleash a culture of problem-solving,” he said.

According to him, the plan will address the four main pillars that are required to enable a vibrant innovation ecosystem. These pillars, he said, are from access to data and access to markets. Making accessibility easier enables creators to get the tools and critical ingredients they need to engineer fit for purpose solutions; updated curriculums that match industry needs in critical areas; infrastructure because the impact of broadband communications cannot be overemphasized in the building of a comprehensive technology ecosystem. The administration has already begun to address this.

On funding, he said one critical challenge has been the lack of understanding of the local technology ecosystem by investors, promising to tackle this head-on.

“With this administration’s activities in these four main areas, the innovation ecosystem is sure to receive the needed boost to raise its contribution to the state’s economy,” he said.

He said with the Lagos State Solutions Hub, democratising access to state actors is a critical strategy of the government as such, the Lagos State Solutions Hub serves as the first point of call for innovators, solutions providers, and innovators on proposing their solutions to the state. “We realise crowdsourcing and inclusive strategies are key ingredients to solve the myriad of challenges we face. The Solutions Hub will enable us to evaluate different solutions from you our most important stakeholders. The website is LagosSolutionsHub.com,” Sanwo-Olu said.

On the Open Government Initiative, he said data access is seen as critical for the building blocks of a solutions culture. “Open data promotes inclusiveness, participation and more fit for purpose solutions. The Open Government initiative has kicked off and we will be communicating subsequent milestones with the public soon

“There is no gainsaying the fact that any society that wants to be reckoned with on the global stage must be grounded in the application of technology to growth and development. It is, also, gratifying to note that the world has accepted that Lagos State is the “Silicon Valley” of the African Continent with major investments by Microsoft and Google in the Ikeja based “Computer Village” and emerging tech hubs which have served as launch pads for the digital careers of numerous youths as software developers. We have provided more opportunities for our children in the public primary and secondary schools to acquire ICT knowledge through exposure to coding,” he said.

The governor said there are many opportunities available for the development of software that can transform the way things are seen, done or think about life activities. Art of Technology 1.0 will open the window for ideas, concepts, and principles buried in the creative recesses of our people to break out and transform the landscape, he added.

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