The Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) has launched the NSIA Prize for Innovation (NPI) geared toward catalysing growth in Nigeria’s tech ecosystem.
Mr Aminu Umar-Sodiq, Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the NSIA, performed the official launch of the innovation prize on Saturday in Lagos.
Uma-Sodiq, while speaking to newsmen on the sidelines of the event, said that the NPI was to catalyse domestic capital for domestic ideas.
“This is an initiative of the NSIA that does two things for the NSIA. First, it is to put us front and center in the tech ecosystem of Nigeria.
“And secondly, to ensure that those great ideas that Nigerians have, find local capital in order to take them from success to significance.
“So, I think this is a very, very important initiative not only for the NSIA, but also for the country in general,” Umar- Sodiq said.
The CEO said that the authority would also consider the idea stage, but had to balance it very carefully taking into consideration the kind of capital that the NSIA manages.
According to him, the NSIA is a conservative capital manager, managing capital for future generations of Nigerians.
“We will support the tech ecosystem at the pre-seed stage.
“But on the other hand, we have to ensure that there is real downside protection to ensure that capital is adequately managed for future generations of Nigerians and so it needs very careful balancing,” Umar-Sodiq said.
He noted that the tech ecosystem was an important sector for the country, particularly for the youth.
He expressed the commitment of the NSIA to be at the centre of supporting it.
On the objectivity and transparency of the innovation programme, the CEO said that the NSIA would be onboarding three different service providers.
“The first is a technical service provider that is going to be in charge of the entire process of ensuring there is a website that is going to receive the ideas,
“They are going to be in charge of saving the ideas, leading the accelerator stage.
“And more importantly, they are also going to ensure that the 10 ideas that are going to get to the demo day stage going to essentially have the requisite basis to present their pitch before the panel of judges.
“Secondly, we have a venture partner because the price that these ideas will earn will impact the cash but will also be equity by the NSIA in those businesses.
“So we have a venture partner that will help the NSIA manage those businesses to offer value creation.
“And importantly, the last part is an auditor that would hold the entire competition to account to make sure that the transparency and accountability that the NSIA is known for continues to abide,” Umar- Sodiq said.
On the value of the prizes to be won by the applicants, the CEO said that the prize was not just going to be the usual monetary terms where a particular prize is announced.
He said that the prize was going to be NSIA engaging actively and as broadly as possible with the tech ecosystem.
“As I mentioned earlier, it starts off with a portal where people apply.
“There is going to be a shortlisting process for 30 ideas. Those 30 ideas are going to go through an accelerator stage with our technical service provider where each of those ideas will engage.
“Each of those ideas will be taken to a service provider who will offer substantial value creation, and then it will be ceded to 10 that will then participate in a Demo day.
“The offering of NSIA is as much cash as it is value addition; it is as much cash as it is in kind.
“More importantly, is that the NSIA will also be taking an equity stake in the top three ideas. So it is as much an investment for us as it is a catalytic intervention,” Umar Sodiq said.
The CEO said that the portal would be opened in the next one month, adding that the event is just a launch, a pre- Christmas launch to allow people to know and get prepared.
He said that it was important for people to have an understanding of what the initiative is
“The value creation that we offer these startups is indeed mentorship and it is going to be an accelerator programme.
It is not only mentorship review of their business plan, but enhancing their business plans introduction, utilising the convening power of both the ventures partner, as well as the technical service provider.
According to him,the goal is to essentially enhance these ideas, introducing them to other capital provider.
The CEO said that the initiative was fundamentally inclusive of everyone irrespective of gender and state of origin.
“NSIA is a federation owned entity. Therefore, every single state is a participant in the shareholding of the NSIA.
“Therefore, in the application process, we are going to encourage everyone, everywhere within the country to apply: our youths, our elders, every single person north south west, of course our women and men.
“But it is going to be as inclusive as possible,” Umar-Sodiq said