The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is set to build an innovation hub at Makerere University that is aimed at skilling students in various sectors with a view to empowering startups and creating jobs.

The Makerere Innovation Pod will be established through UNDP’s Timbuktoo initiative, a $1 billion youth innovation financing facility for Africa which aims to scale 1,000 high growth start-ups, improve 50 million livelihoods and generate $10 billion in value creation.

UN Resident Representative in Uganda Elsie Attafuah said the partnership with Makerere is anchored on five strategic areas; fostering innovation ecosystems in public universities,  Leveraging the Role of Universities in Grassroots Development and Establishing a regular Innovation Expo as a platform for youth innovators to network.

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Others are promoting research on resilience, and strengthening gender equality in public institutions.

“UNDP is establishing the University Innovation Hub/ Pod, 10 other African Countries are also beneficiaries. Makerere is well placed to host this innovation pod which would be interdisciplinary in nature bringing together students, academia, and partners from all fields,” she said.

She said the University Innovation Pod will provide University Students with: Maker-Spaces that provide service to both engineering as well as creative design projects, with a standard set of equipment; a Design Lab that offers a host of programs in design thinking.

“The hub will support students to apply design principles toward solving any problem they are tackling; Collaborative Working Spaces to enable students create business ideas and host product demos, training events, speaker talks, & other community & collaboration building events,” Ms Attafuah added.

Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed the partnership with UNDP.

“I am delighted that Makerere will finally host an innovation hub to facilitate the transformation from research to commercial projects,” he said.

“The innovation hub will help us incubate the ideas developed by our students to ensure that they create companies that will create jobs for the many students we graduate every year,” he added.

The Makerere Vice Chancellor said Parish Development Model Policy lab will hopefully rescue the well intended program from the public nay-sayers.

Prof. Ezra Suruma, the university chancellor, also welcomed the partnership.

 “When I was in the Office of the Prime Minister, we focused so much on the problem of Implementation. As Makerere, we have to focus on making sure the PDM trickles down to the people at the grassroots to ensure poverty alleviation,” he said.

“As we sign this partnership, I hope this will set the ball rolling for an innovative program for society transformation in the next 100 years of Makerere University,” he added.