By Prince Okafor
Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board (NCDMB) said at least five innovative teams emerged over the weekend as winners of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Technology (NOGTECH) Hackathon.
Each of the five winning teams was given a cheque of $10,000 equity-free grant and they will proceed to participate in a 3-month incubation programme during which they will get workspace, expert mentors, global partners and market access to the nation’s oil and gas industry, ensuring they become commercial and investor-ready.
The Executive Secretary of NCDMB, Mr Simbi Wabote, announced at the closing of the programme in Lagos that the Board will support the five firms in their product development phase, drawing from the $50million Nigerian Content Research and Development Intervention Fund.
The Board’s support he said, will go into helping the companies get patents for their innovations and produce prototypes, supporting them to conduct field trials, business start-up as well as provide industry linkages.
He, however, confirmed that the Board’s funding would depend on the success of the product incubation phase, stressing that “the goal is to fund bankable businesses, not charities.”
He explained that the sponsorship of the NOGTECH Hackathon is within the Board’s mandate, hinting that section 70 of the Nigerian Oil and Gas Industry Content Development Act empowers “the Board to engage in targeted capacity and capability development interventions and conduct studies, research, investigation, workshops and trainings aimed at advancing the development of Nigerian Content.”
He stated that the Board announced the initiative through a webinar it organized in May 2020, during the height of COVID-19 lockdown, because it saw the opportunity to create a platform for local creation of digital technologies to solve problems for the Nigerian society.
The Board was also keen to stimulate the participants to channel their intelligence and become successful entrepreneurs, he said.
Wabote counselled the five winning teams to be clear about their vision and strategy and retain their passion, stressing that their motivation should not be on making quick financial gains, rather on innovating solutions, making a difference and contributing to the society.
According to him, “All the greatest inventors, particularly in the technology space did not start by looking for money as the objective. They started because they wanted to make a difference and create a change.
The prize money is not the key factor. It was meant to bring people together.”