Innovation Spaces are now established across Tanzania, but often at different stages of development. Some are intended to be permanent and have at least some full-time employees, while others were established as part of projects and may not have a lifespan beyond the project duration. Finally, there are a few established by volunteers, primarily focused on skills development and supporting employment creation and these are often economically vulnerable.
In Dar es Salaam, while Buni Hub is a pre-incubator (hosted by COSTECH), most innovation spaces are incubators (Cunningham et al 2014) including Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi), the University of Dar es Salaam Entrepreneurship Centre (UDEC) , UDEC Business Incubator , Research and Development Network (RDN) Hub and University of Dar es Salaam ICT Incubator (UDICTI), Biashara Lab TAYOA , Niwezeshe Lab/Nlab , Energy Change Lab , EQWIP Hubs , TAREBI/IMED , STICLab , She Codes for Change , Jenga Hub , Ndoto Hub , Hub 255, SmartLab , Seedspace , AMCET Hub , dLab , Safe Space and Sahara Accelerator .
There are also Innovation Spaces at different stages of development in Dodoma (Microsoft Innovation Center - MIC TANZANIA at University of Dodoma , Arusha (Twende-AISE , Kakute , NM-AIST , Carmartec , Obuntu Hub), Iringa (VSO International T-LED, Rlabs Iringa, Kiota), Moshi (Anza Accelerator, Kilihub), Mtwara (VSO International T-LED ), Mzanza (Saint Augustine University, Ellimu Living Lab Sengerema, EQWIP Hubs, VSO International T-LED) and Zanzibar (EQWIP Hubs, ZTBI, Cube Zanzibar, Tanzania Youth Icon (TAYI)).
Implementation of the Tanzania ICT Technology Park started in 2010 with an MOU signed with the Export Processing Zone Authority (EPZA) in May 2014. The Master Plan Development was completed in 2018 but a Special Purpose Vehicle to run the Technology Park has not yet started. The inauguration and Call for Investors for the Technology Park is planned for 2021/2022.
Some of these are profiled below. The Mara Launchpad Incubator opened in Q1 2013 and closed in 2014. KINU was launched as a pre-incubator and co-working space in 2012 and closed in 2016.
The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology through Buni Innovation Hub have started an initiative to support the establishment and growth of innovation spaces specifically those attached in public universities in the country. The primary goal of this program is to create awareness in universities and R&D institutions about innovation spaces and guide them through the establishment of innovation spaces at their universities. It targets lecturers since they are the potential people to pioneer the establishment of these centers at the universities. The first phase included 6 universities and a total of 50 people who can potentially run the spaces, these includes: University of Iringa, Mbeya University of Science and Technology, University of Dodoma, Nelson Mandela Institute of Science and Technology, Sokoine University of Agriculture, State University of Zanzibar, Mwanza region - Innovation space and virtual incubator. In the second phase 14 universities will benefit from the programme.
Established in October 2011 within the TANZICT Bilateral project as an Innovation Space, Buni Hub is currently focusing on promoting innovation and technology entrepreneurship as a tech co-creation working space in Dar es Salaam. It is hosted by the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH). The hub has also piloted the first makerspace in Tanzania, Buni mini fabrication laboratory which is under COSTECH. Buni Hub has a number of membership types:
- Interns - University students who are using Buni hub to work on various projects & ideas and most of them are registered to Buni Internship Programme (BIP);
- Mentored Startups - individuals with ideas or products who are looking to transform their ideas or products to early stage businesses they are part of the programme called Buni Mentorship Programme (BMP) which is more of a pre-incubation programme;
- Makers - individuals who are using Buni Mini Fabrication Laboratory to work on their different maker-tronics projects and ideas. Buni also hosts startups & freelancers individuals with their early stage ideas who are looking for the co-working space to work with their teams and meet with their clients. Buni offer shared resources for them to use free of charge.
- As part of Buni hub fourth programme Buni Community Programme (BCP), the hub conducts several community outreach activities aiming at nurturing innovations and technology entrepreneurship to Tanzanian youths.
- The BCP programme allows individuals interested to add value to the programme to register to Buni hub as Buni Champions.
COSTECH is the focal point in the Southern African Innovation Support Programme (SAIS 2), which is supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Finland from 2017 - 2021. The SAIS2 Innovation Fund provides grants for locally implemented projects with partners from the beneficiary countries (Botswana, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia). COSTECH and BuniHub are members of the SAIS2 Connected Hubs.
STICLab is a makerspace establshed by a lecturer and students from Dar es Salaam Institute of Technology (DIT). The makerspace is called SticLab is a technology innovation centre that provides a futuristic technology development environment for scientists, makers and innovators. The center offers its users full access to lab and Workshop equipments that help them easily do their tasks, starting from idea conception to product and/or service development.
dLab (Tanzanian Data Lab) is an open working sopace funded by PEPFAR (President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) and implemented by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). This is one part of the broader Data Collaborative for Local Impact (DCLI) Program, which is focused on promoting wider use of data analysis to inform decision making in Tanzania. dLab places a strong emphasis on the use of open data to inform societal oriented applications and provides training on data analytics and visualisation. Since 2018, it is also cooperating with Univesrity of Dar es Salaam on a Masters of Science in Data Science.
SmartLab was established by Smart Codes - a digital innovation and advertising agency providing solutions ranging from web and app development to social media strategies and media buying. They provide these services to those using SmartLab as well as access to mentorship and support and access to their customer network. SmartLab places an emphasis on building relationships with universities with a view to accessing graduates interested in establishing a business.
VSO International T-LED (Tanzania Local Enterprise Development) is a project supported by the Canadian government to support local SMEs (and particularly those led by women) in the Mtwara, Lindi, Mwanza and Iringa regions of Tanzania. It is funded by Global Affairs Canada (GAC) and delivered by VSO and Cuso International. As part of its objectives, T-LED will establish a competitive technology innovation fund that can be used to expand the technical capacity of business. Where possible technology wil be procured from Technology Development Centres (TDC) organised by the Small Industries Development Organisation (SIDO) to manufacture equipment and technology locally to address local needs, thus strengthening the overall innovation ecoysystem.
One of the innovation spaces in Arusha is called Twende-AISE . In 2007, Jim Elsworth established a workshop in Arusha, Tanzania called Twende (Swahili for "let's go") to identify local needs & engineer new technology solutions, empower entrepreneurs, offer business support, and encourage local innovation. Then in 2012, Bernard Kiwia began running trainings on design and innovation through an organization called AISE! (Swahili for "Wow!") which stands for 'Accelerating Innovation & Social Entrepreneurship' in Arusha. AISE! was focused on running creative-capacity building workshops, offering mentorship and advising to aspiring innovators, and continuing to invent his own life-improving products.
Twende and AISE! collaborated on a series of programs, culminating in the International Development Design Summit in 2014. IDDS Tanzania brought together 46 participants from 21 different countries to learn about the design process and apply it to create technologies in four rural communities in northern Tanzania. In only four weeks, the teams came up with eight prototypes and showcased them at the annual Nane Nane agricultural fair in Arusha. There was clear overlap between AISE! and Twende. Hence, in 2015, Bernard & Jim joined forces to work together to empower Tanzanians to design, develop, and disseminate life-improving technology solutions to the challenges they and their communities face. Twende-AISE activities are organized in two areas:
- Workshop: Twende-AISE have worked with over 1,300 secondary school students, small-holder farmers, women, and microentrepreneurs through their Innovation Workshops with over half female participation through a series of workshop. After a workshop ends, participants are given the opportunity to continue their projects.They provide funding, space, and technical advising to finish the first prototype to test.
- Techonology: The Twende Core Team develops numerous prototypes a year. Some are selected for further refinement, going through an iterative design, technical testing, user testing, and redesign process (about 5-10 times), after which they begin producing & distributing. Some of the products that have been developed are:
Drip Irrigation Kit
This drip irrigation kit is an especially affordable product made from local Tanzanian parts. They use a combination of crop bags (gunia), plumbing pipes, wire coatings, and sheets of cut & soldered plastic to create an easy-to-use 7m x 4m drip irrigation kit .
Bicycle-powered Maize Sheller
The bicycle-powered maize sheller replaces hard manual labor by turning a common bicycle into a maize-shelling machine. With this machine, users can easily shell over 100 kg of maize per hour.
Research and Development Network (RDN) Hub is the Technology and Innovation Support Centers (TISCs) - Virtual Hub and Working Space, a private inniovation space established in 2016 in Dar es Salaam. Programs include:
- Professional Connections/Networking: It support Professional development, building strong business and working relationship, discovering and leverage talents to solve problems and increase productivity.
- Innovation and Product development: It supports concept and product development, enhance innovative skills and Self confidence.
- c) Virtual Assistance - Freelance service for research & Innovation: Virtual Assistants for entrepreneurs who are ready to delegate the doing so they can focus more on growing. It supports Problem solving on research and development for better achievement
- Information sharing: It support awareness on innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities, events, and programs.
- Graduates and students development: It support business and innovation skills development, enhance employability, and support connections with business partners and employers.
KIDT-VTC Ubunifu Hub is an Innovation spaces and technology transfer support centre located in Kilimanjaro Region, Moshi Urbun district. This Ubunifu Hub is focused on encouraging innovation in ICT, Health and Education services in the interests of consumers by supporting innovators through allowing them access to working hubs, equipment, mentors & advisors as well as bringing consumer's requirements to them for development. Innovators have an opportunity to learn, as well as develop relevant products that are solving problems in the mentioned fields.
- Identify skills needs in the sector and develop a practical, demand-driven training.
- Provide appropriate facilities and infrastructure (ICT Centres of Excellence) which will house the training and hub program.
- Linking up demand for solutions with the best innovator who gets engaged for that job
- Invite the business communities to see different solutions developed by the innovators and how they can increase efficiency and profitability
- 5. Training to be delivered in two trenches: - (2-5 Days) Basic digital literacy and soft skill training - 3 months advance Coding Bootcamp (Target Beneficiaries include highly disadvantaged youth between the ages of 15-35 years old, living in Urban or Rural. The program explores the option of all-female cohort to mainstream gender.
- Placed on technical skills (e.g., programming languages), soft skills relevant and entrepreneurship skills.
- Upon training completion, beneficiaries will be awarded certificates. After which, the program will work with stakeholders to assist beneficiaries in obtaining internships or full-time roles.
Apart from mentor and supervision Hub organize exhibition, workshops and facilitators include and young stakeholders to be able to access all facilities and tools include computers and internet.
UDOM Innovation Space and Incubation Centre is the Innovation space and Incubation centre at the University of Dodoma, established based on support from COSTECH. The UDOM Innovation Hub aims to increase the contribution of higher learning institutions in attainment of economic growth, reduction of poverty and improved social wellbeing of Tanzanians through increased access to Business Support System (BSS) offered as one package in innovation spaces and incubation centre.
The Hub facilitates and nurtures innovative ideas from students, staff and the community at large. The Hub is dedicated to support business start-ups, existing Micro, Small and Medium Entreprises (MSMEs) so as to create conducive enabling environment for job creation, business nurturing and growth. Their day to activities include:
- Offering professional development - support and training in different disciplines (like marketing, accounting and finance).
- Knowledge provision on practical entrepreneurship and innovation courses.
- Enhance and supervise entrepreneurial start-ups with necessary knowledge and skills (communication, advocacy, project management, negotiation etc).
- Provision of facilities and technical support to Incubatees and shared support like administrative assistance, business legal advice.
- Motivating and aligning Incubatees efforts (mentoring and coaching).
- vi. Building networks with potential partners/
- Organising and supporting (in terms of finance) exhibitions where students display and demonstrate their idea.
- Encouraging and mentoring hub users to develop self-management skills.
DTBi was established in June 2011 with the support of COSTECH and infoDev together with local academia as an autonomous entity in a Public Private Partnership framework to grow and nurture emerging ICT start-ups/entrepreneurs. DTBi is currently supporting a total of 46 incubatees/entrepreneurs categorized as: 15 Graduated Companies, 8 Exist Incubatees and 23 Growth Companies.
Out of these, 8 are resident at COSTECH premise while 36 are supported virtually in Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Mbeya, Kigoma Zanzibar and Moshi. DTBi collaborates with the Buni Hub in particular in supporting Pre-incubatees i.e. entrepreneurs that are still in ideation stage and as such Buni has become an important breeding ground of DTBi incubatees. Pre-Incubatees are provided with desk space and Internet access for three months while they develop their ideas.
They make a contribution of 50 USD per month towards operational costs or provide in kind services (management of network, website etc). It is expected that a prototype will be developed, company registration in place and to have started a marketing and business plan within this three month window.
DTBi also provides Incubation for companies - residential or virtual. There are specific criteria to qualify and residential incubates pay a subsidised rent per month. DTBi works on a Royalties model. DTBi provides loan guarantees for incubated companies with signed private sector or public sector contracts who need working capital. DTBi was the implementing partner for the InfoDev East Africa Virtual Incubation pilot launched in January 2013.
In June 2014, Tigo Tanzania signed a partnership with DTBi and COSTECH which aims to support 10 scholarships per year for Masters students, an internship programme and employment opportunities. Students who received such sponsorship are still working close to DTBi where they have been supported to come up with Ideas that can later on scaled up.
DTBi has assisted incubatees to generate more than US$2.0 Million in annual turnover, and creating more than 520 direct and 12,400 indirect employment opportunities while the pre-incubation programs and app training for university students have served hundreds of youth. In addition, DTBi has forged strtategic partnerships with reputable local and international organizations to enable smooth delivery of its services - TiGO Tanzania, Microsoft, Airtel Tanzania and National Economic Empowerment Council to mention just a few. Tigo - DTBi collaboration was signed in June 2014 dubbed as Project Digitize to accelerate digital inclusion in Tanzania. Through this collaboration 10 undergraduate and Masters students have been awarded scholarships in 2015/16 academic year and 2 new innovative solutions have been channelled to Tigo subscribers.
Further, DTBi in Collaboration with other partners and donors have implemented several other programs such as Data for Local Impact (DLI) which was a USD 4 Million dollar with the aim of promoting the use of data to come up with some innovative solutions that to solve some community challenges in the Health and Agricultural sectors. Under this program DTBi has manages to successful run 5 Innovation Windows and provided grants to 46 grantees ranging from individual, groups and companies.
DTBi in collaboration with other partners is currently implementing an 18 months program called Tanzania Digital Innovation Youth Empowerment Program. This Program has been funded by the Royal Danish Embassy with the aim enabling the Youth between 15-35 years old to take advantage of the opportunities that are provided by digital economy to create their own wealth and employment. The program has three main components i.e. provide online Entrepreneurship knowledge and skills, Optimal utilization of Kijitonyama Community Lab and Provision of Seed Funding to at least 20 people through Business Plan Innovation Challenge.
Lastly DTBi in Collaboration the Mwanza Regional Commissioner has been running Lake Victoria Challenge (LVC). The aim of this challenge is looking at the possibility of using innovation in drones in solving the challenge of untimely supply of medicines and other medical services as delivering of blood sample in the communities that are living in some Irelands such as Ukerewe. This program has originated from Drone-x program that was implemented by DTBi in collaboration with GIZ in Mwanza.
Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) at a national level has participated in the technology development and transfer. This includes:
COSTECH in collaboration of the Dar Teknohama Business Incubator (DTBi) has supported the establishment of an Incubator in Mwanza city with the collaboration of Mwanza Municipal. In this incubator 6 start-up companies were established in the following areas: software development; mobile payment systems; microfinance, back-up & recovery. Initials activities have been carried out for the establishment of an Incubator in collaboration with the Arusha Municipality in Arusha.
Support establishment of technology station for engineering and agro processing
In 2016 COSTECH in collaboration with the Ministry of Community Development and Empowerment in Zanzibar established the Zanzibar Technology Business Incubator (ZTBI) for ICT and Agro-processing. This incubator provides services to youth who has graduated in entrepreneurship training and it has 8 companies in agro-processing, 1 in ICT and 2 in Tourism. These has provided employment to the incubatees as well as enabled them to employ their youth fellows.
Initial preparations have been conducted including providing profiles of potential HEI and R&D institution for hosting the pilot Technology Station. In a workshop held in 2017, two areas for the TS were identified including engineering and agro-process. Experts from the Technology and Innovation Agency (TIA) conducted a workshop in Dar es Salaam in May, 2018 on Technology Station Concepts and visited the institutions to assess the potentials for hosting a pilot Technology Station. After the hosting institution has been identified a business plan for the TS will be prepared.
COSTECH has conducted trainings on the establishment and running of Innovation Spaces to 10 Higher Education Institutions. These trainings have led to the establishment of Innovation Spaces in the following universities: Tumaini University (Kiota Hub), Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUGECO), Dodoma University (UDOICT) and Zanzibar State University (SUZA), Mbeya University of Science and Technology (TISC). Trainings were also conducted in the following universities: Mzumbe University, Marian University-Bagamoyo, and University of Dar Es Salaam.
COSTECH has developed an M&E (Monitoring and Evalution) framework with tools to collect information for STI indicators, COSTECH has entered into and MoU with the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) to collect the information for the STI- indictors. Training has been conducted to collect the data as well as to focal persons in the HEI and R&D institutions who will provide the data to COSTECH annually.
From the 15 jointly funded research projects between 2011 and 2015, COSTECH in collaboration with the Technology and Innovation Agency (TIA) of South Africa, are funding 4 joint up-scaling projects resulting from the 15 completed projects in preparation for the commercializing of the research results.
Promotion of Innovation initiatives at Local Government Authorities (LGA) through supporting SMEs, Clusters and startups
Through Sida funding, 15 clusters have been selected and baseline study conducted. A total of 177 Cluster stakeholders were sensitized on innovative clusters initiatives out of which 134 are males and 43 females (LGA, R&D institutions and cluster SMEs). Cluster facilitators were trained on cluster coordination and management while Cluster Research Model developed and validated. During 2017/18, monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework have been developed and validated. An MoU between Small Industries Development Organization (SIDO) and Local Government Authorities (LGA) was signed and COSTECH and SIDO Staff (28m/10f) trained on cluster concept and coordination.