A collaboration between the GIZ program for the maintenance of biodiversity and sustainable forest management (BGF) and the Airbus company led to an initiative called InnoStart 2019. It fosters innovation, digitalization and entrepreneurship in the academic world for a sustainable management of natural resources.
For four weeks, the training institutions of the DRC in general and in particular those of the Strategy 2020, had the opportunity to submit innovative projects related to the sustainable natural resources management. A total of 16 candidates were selected from the 70 nominations submitted. Preselected on the basis of specific criteria such as presentation, business, technology, market, impact, the 16 project leaders joine 5-days training/coaching course provided by Innostart trainers. Playoff pitches reduced the number of candidates to 10 and finally 5. This week of coaching was intended to allow candidates to swap their research cap to that of an entrepreneur and to become capable to successfully sell their products to potential investors.
At the end of the week, the final five candidates had three minutes each to present their project to a multidisciplinary jury composed of seven members, and to an audience of about a hundred people. The votes of the public using a digital application have determined the two winners, who will have the opportunity to be exposed to the network of investors of the Airbus company through a 10-day stay in Europe, and to compete against eight other winners of the #Africa4Future Caravan. The winners will get the opportunity to win six months of incubation and coaching within the Airbus company and financial support for the realization of their project.
The InnoStart 2019 represented an opportunity for the BGF to promote entrepreneurship in academia, a key element of the LMD reform. One way of capitalizing on this experience should be a better fosterign of collaborations between universities, the private sector and the socio-professional sector for better service to the community and a better orientation of graduates in the labor market.
The final event, the audience is listening to the pitches ready to vote
Danièle Fouth and Sarah Mambu, GIZ BGF-DRC