Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL): A COMMENDABLE EFFORT

By OlaOluwa Godwin Oke

Innovation is a catalyst for societal advancement, and it emanates from creating an environment where creative ideas can connect and evolve as a solution to socio-economic issues. Therefore, any government, company or individual attempt to create a platform that serves as a springboard for new ideas, helps innovators pursue creative solutions and build a productive network that can improve the economic prosperity of society should be a welcome idea.

Silicon Valley, a region in northern California, has the highest concentration of high-tech multinational corporations located in a single territory. It started as an idea to find a connection between the town and gown. Frederick Terman, the legendary dean of Stanford engineering faculty, was credited with providing a platform that nurtured innovators whose ideas formed the technology revolution that changed the world. The idea birthed a technology ecosystem that produced the first transistor, a hub for the production of chips and semiconductors. Silicon Valley is known as the innovation centre of the world. It is home to the headquarters of HP, Google, Apple, Twitter, Netflix and many others.

In 2011, A couple of young and promising Nigerians decided to cluster together in a technology innovation lab in Yaba to share ideas, build networks, and train other young Nigerians to design disruptive technological solutions to societal issues. Today, their vision has resulted in building an economy worth over $2 billion, and thousands of youths are productively engaged. Today the “yabacon valley”, a nickname for a tech cluster located in Lagos Mainland, is regarded as the melting pot of technology enthusiasts in Nigeria.

The achievement of sustainable economic development in any country hinges on its ability to create opportunities for transforming ideas into innovations that can solve societal problems. Willam brody, a famous scientist, describes the calculus of innovation as; innovation being a derivative of knowledge, which drives productivity, thereby resulting in economic growth.

A community with a burgeoning youth population and research institutions possessed the recipe for greatness, with a platform that can match social and business problems in communities with tailored solutions. One such platform is the Senator Abiru Innovation Lab (SAIL), strategically located within the Lagos east district, a district with teeming youth populations and Four Tertiary institutions, including a university of technology. According to their website, the SAIL lab is a community innovation lab set up to inspire grassroots innovations and build partnerships and networks that will drive economic prosperity.

The Senator Abiru Innovation Lab, a pioneer innovation lab sited in Ikorodu, within the Lagos East senatorial district, is capable of building a technology ecosystem that will turn around the economy of Lagos East district. However, it should be structured to create a link between the town and gown, tailor ideas to solve specific societal problems, and have a clear purpose to empower the youths and the community. The SAIL lab should be where anybody with a great idea can sit in an office with a cup of coffee, form a team, raise funds, and get started.

OlaOluwa Godwin Oke, writes from Ikorodu.

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