Namibia Business Innovation Center

The Namibia Business Innovation Center (NBIC) is the result of an initiative by the Polytechnic of Namibia. NBIC’s vision is to create an independent catalyst for innovation and development in Namibia to support Namibia’s transformation into a knowledge-based and globally competitive society. This concept is well embedded in Namibia’s Vision 2030 and its subsequent National Development Plans (NDP), notably NDP3, Chapter 7 “Knowledge Based Economy and Technology Driven Nation”.
On its mission, NBIC engages in three topical areas to live up to its vision: First, the Innovation Marketplace (I’M), featuring mostly public events to spur idea creation and an entrepreneurial mindset; Second, Entrepreneurship & Incubation (E&I), supporting young entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to kick-start their business via training and mentoring; Third, Research & Development (R&D), advancing product and process innovation as well as social media development. While having been a centre of excellence with a reach mostly limited to Windhoek since its inception in 2009, NBIC aims at developing into a fully-fledged national centre, which caters for all Namibians.
Innovation Marketplace
NBIC’s Innovation Marketplace (I‘M) promotes and stimulates innovation and entrepreneurial thinking in Namibia. It covers a broad range of activities to spark the interest of potential creative individuals among the public, students and researchers, as well as professionals from all segments of industry, government and public institutions. I‘M uses inspirational, motivational and awareness campaigns to engage with the public as the first step to understanding innovation. Aspiring innovators are enabled to learn and understand added value of partaking in both social and business innovation. To facilitate its activities, I‘M utilises highly knowledgeable and reputable experts (internal and external).
I’M offers the following services:
* Idea Creation and Assessment Workshops: This workshop format introduces creative tools and techniques, outside-the-box thinking, means to realise personal and professional dreams, and innovative idea sourcing and generation.
* Business Idea Competitions: These competitions encourage, inspire and compel aspiring innovators to creative and design thinking.
* Motivational Talks: Experts, gurus and speakers of achievement speak on innovation, leadership, creativity and outside-the-box thinking.
Entrepreneurship & Incubation
When starting a business, the tasks that await can seem insurmountable. Therefore, E&I supports young entrepreneurs with a host of services. E&I targets those individuals who successfully completed the I’M workshops as well as all future entrepreneurs with a concrete business idea in mind.
E&I offers the following support programmes:
* BootCamp: The NBIC BootCamp takes place twice a year. Designed together with high-profile partners and mentors, the programme takes the participants from their business idea through market research and business planning all the way to establish their enterprise. This also includes information on securing start-up finance.
* Business Plan Competition: As a build up from the BootCamp, the participants are encouraged to put their ideas to paper and to participate in this competition. It is designed to stimulate innovation and creativity amongst future entrepreneurs and entice start-up businesses to plan their operations properly. It also gives participants (and especially winners) important public exposure.
* Mentor Network: NBIC has established a dedicated mentor network that features a growing number of experts in their respective fields from accounting to marketing. They all volunteer their time to registered NBIC entrepreneurs.
* Coworking Space and Incubation: Young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to rent a desk in NBIC’s coworking space. This way, they can further develop their business and meet other entrepreneurs and creative types that frequent the NBIC Innovation Village. NBIC will also offer exclusive incubator offices to the most promising entrepreneurs either coming from the BootCamp or from the Business Plan Competition.
* Entrepreneurs Circle: Based on the idea that the essence of doing business was, still is and will most likely remain as much about networking as it is about the right tools and skills, NBIC encourages the exchange of new ideas and engagement in cooperation and mutually beneficial support.
Research and Development
NBIC’s Research & Development team supports whenever expertise regarding product and process innovation as well as social media is needed.
R&D focuses on the following programmmes:
* Developers Circle: Software development is a key ingredient to innovation in many industries and through the Internet. It offers Namibians an opportunity to provide services beyond Namibia via PC or mobile devices. The mobile developer base in Namibia is very small and there are currently no strong communities for facilitating growth in this area. Other African countries have seen massive growth in entrepreneurship through mobile tech start-ups and Namibia has the potential for joining this wave if a critical mass of active developers can be reached and brought together in a vibrant developer community. The Developer Circle is a peer-to-peer developer group, which meets on a weekly basis in Windhoek.
* FabLab: Many entrepreneurs have a product idea or are already manufacturing a product, but don’t know how to improve the design, manufacture larger amounts at lower cost or achieve a higher quality needed to expand their business. Currently, NBIC is working with a small team of designers and engineers to establish a Rapid Prototyping Lab - the FabLab Namibia. The Fablab will have all the machines and tools that are needed to produce product prototypes.
* Social Media Circle: NBIC and RLabs (South Africa) partnered to bring the highly successful RLabs Academy to Namibia. The primary objective is to train the youth in social networking and Internet programmes for development and entrepreneurship. Skills acquired include: web and Information literacy, basic computer literacy, extensive experience on various social media tools, campaigning and basic marketing, social media and entrepreneurship and social media for development.
* Rural Innovation: Innovation is not limited to urban areas with proximity to academic institutions and high tech companies. Rather, there is a wealth of innovation potential in rural areas: First, indigenous knowledge (especially in the area of medicinal plants) and second, grassroots innovations by individuals, for example innovative ideas in planting, processing or pest management that are developed by individuals and could be utilised by others. The objective is to identify, document and disseminate such innovations.
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