Following the recent launch of its US$255,000 innovation prize to be awarded as a combination of cash and equity investment in the underlying businesses of the winners, the Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) is set to open its application portal to the public.
Application for the Innovation Prize programme which is structured as a business enhancement initiative to support early-stage, scalable solutions through education, mentorship, and financing, will open in March 2023 while the programme will run and close within Q2 of 2023.
In December 2022, the NSIA, managers of the Nigeria sovereign wealth fund, launched the NSIA Prize for Innovation (“NPI” or “the Prize”), a capacity-building initiative which aims to bolster innovation within Nigeria’s digital ecosystem. The Authority is now set to open the application portal for the competition to innovators, technopreneurs, and startups.
NPI is a multi-year commitment by the NSIA to empower early-stage Nigerian innovators. The Programme is designed to encourage and support ingenuity within the digital ecosystem and to fund early-stage tech-enabled solutions that could result in cost-effective, scalable, and transformative economic impact.
In this edition of the programme, NPI will adopt a three-staged competition at the end of which ten (10) finalists will emerge. The top 3 of these will win varied prizes comprising equity investment into the underlying business as well as cash prizes. The last 7 finalists will win consolation prizes.Budding technopreneurs who intend to participate in the Programme will be evaluated and shortlisted in line with a set eligibility criteria. The shortlisted candidates will participate in an acceleration programme to enhance their capabilities and digital solutions. The top 10 entries will partake in a pitch-session on demo day from which a winner will emerge. The programme will run for 16 weeks.
It is expected that the innovation prize will:
- Identify, build, and finance early-stage innovative solutions to catalyse economic growth, enhance the nation’s productive capacity, and create jobs.
- Provide an enabling platform to showcase early-stage innovative solutions with transformative potential.
- Create an avenue for Nigerian innovators to raise capital and network with a universe of investors and established technology experts.
- Strengthen the capital formation process for viable digital solutions originating in Nigeria.
- Inspire ingenuity, creativity, innovation, and breakthrough ideas in the digital ecosystem in Nigeria through cycles of prize competitions.
Commenting on the planned opening of the NPI application portal, Aminu Umar-Sadiq, MD/CEO of the NSIA said, “The NPI is an initiative of the NSIA that aims to deliver two objectives for our country. Firstly, it ensures that those great solutions developed by Nigerian founders, find local, patient capital; mentorship and value-addition to assist businesses succeed and scale. Secondly, it crowds in other strategic partners and financiers into the Nigerian digital ecosystem for the benefit of our entrepreneurs.”
The MD further said “Driving innovation and technology is at the heart of the business strategy for the next phase of NSIA’s evolution. We believe that the digital economy will become a mainstay of our economy. We hope that our involvement could lead to measurable transformation across the digital value chain as we have done in other focus sectors over the years.”