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Monday, November 1, 2021

AKITECH 2021: Inoyo Toro Foundation Discovers 72 Tech Experts

By Udeme Utip

A recently concluded two-week expert-led training in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, #AKITECH Pitch Competition, has graduated at least 72 tech solution providers.

Organized by Start Innovation Hub, with sponsorship from Inoyo Toro Foundation, the 2021 Pitch Competition saw winners smiling home with as much as N1.5m from the total pull of N100m committed to the competition by the foundation.

Notable among the winners was Kingsley Ekanem, CEO of Alpha 1 Technical Services whose locally-fabricated medical oxygen generator project won the N1m star prize.

Speaking with THEWILL, Ekanem said he was compelled to research locally made oxygen generators by circumstances surrounding his father’s death, saying he now supports hospitals with additional oxygen generators to save lives.

“I started this innovation as a student in Technical College, Ewet in Uyo. The highest thing you get here in Akwa Ibom is ‘Wow!’ I thought I was in a wrong place, until I saw my name published as the second innovation wonder of Akwa Ibom State. But I asked myself, is this how wonders are? For many years of my efforts of saving lives with my patented locally-fabricated medical oxygen generator, I never really felt encouraged and supported, until the Inoyo Toro Foundation came and changed that story.

“I am passionate about oxygen generation and the foreign devices are really not enough. Sometimes, I get to support some patients with my device. Like I said while making my presentation during the Pitch Competition, my father died because of lack of oxygen. I don’t like to see it happen again”.

“Let me say this to encourage some of you here. On Wednesday, one of the patients whose lives was saved by offering oxygen some time ago, came back from the US to appreciate us. The problem of oxygen in Nigeria is real. If Teaching Hospital is losing lives because of it, how much more smaller hospitals in the villages?”

“That’s why I am really grateful to Mr. Hanson of Startup Innovation Hub for organizing #AKITECH 2021 and to Inoyo Toro Foundation and others for the sponsorship and support. It has really been an amazing opportunity. Technicians in Akwa Ibom State need support. Everybody that carries a laptop is not a yahoo boy” Ekanem explained.

Uwem Akpan, another tech innovator who specializes in building apps and e-commerce websites for clients noted that “#AKITECH 2021, plus the two-week build and grow camp has given me a new family of persons to work and grow with, as he continues to pursue his tech innovations.

“Since I came back to Akwa Ibom from Lagos, I was wondering how I would cope alone, I didn’t have tech persons around. But I now have a new family. I thank Inoyo Toro Foundation for creating this new family for me.” the CEO of WillieNuel, expressed.

The Chief Executive Officer of Start Innovation Hub and initiator of #AKITECH2021, Mr. Hanson Johnson in his remarks declared the 2021 edition the biggest and most impactful, as it featured a pitch competition where starters won cash grants from Inoyo Toro Foundation.

“Preparation, they say meets opportunity and this played out in this years AKITECH Week as our seven (7) years of preparation in Start Innovation Hub where we build capacity for talents and entrepreneurs, then link them to opportunities and investors globally.

“Start Innovation Hub exists to be a leading source where talents and local businesses in the Niger Delta region draw strength and excellence for global relevance. We achieve this by providing a conducive environment that supports collaboration and resource sharing among talents, Women and early-stage entrepreneurs.

“The results have been amazing as we have the talents we have equipped solving problems for companies abroad and attracting foreign direct investments.

“We are unto a new phase where we will harness the skills of these talents to engage and keep them to contribute their skills in developing local businesses. To achieve this, we need funding hence while we need support from interested partners,” he said.

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