Innovators are often driven by a passion to impact their societies and to earn a living by creating relevant products. Their products make it easier for us to learn, to access more affordable health care, to access food, to access government services and so on. These innovations are precious.
A key feature of mature innovation ecosystems is that they develop policy and legal frameworks that give innovators the tools they need to protect their innovations. These tools include patents, trademarks, and copyrights. These ecosystems also have programs and organisations that support innovators in protecting their innovations. It is important that an innovator can control and benefit from the commercial use of their innovation.
We protect innovation because it is a key driver of economic growth. Innovation brings with it the rapid adoption of modern standards and technologies, creates jobs and improves quality of life.
Good ideas can come from anywhere. This means that these good ideas may come from people with little to no previous experience running businesses. Just as we build systems to protect innovation we must also build systems to protect the people that create these innovations. Building products in challenging environments strains innovators mentally, physically, socially, and financially. Innovators are as exceptional as they are vulnerable.
Innovation hubs acknowledge this and are now increasingly offering wellness sessions. Check out this session that Bongo Hive ran last year where they focused on incorporating mindfulness and wellness into daily routines. The 2020 AfriLabs Annual Gathering also dedicated some time to discuss wellbeing and resilience during the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. The session was curated by Mowgli Mentoring and touched on how to remain productive during trying times. Hubs are also fostering opportunities for down time for their community members and curating mentorship events for innovators.
Protecting innovators is the primary role of innovation and entrepreneurship hubs. The hubs support innovators to become entrepreneurs and support entrepreneurs to build their businesses and interact with teams, customers and funders. For years this support has involved elements like business modelling, investor readiness and so on but is now incomplete without self care and wellness support.
Another crucial way hubs protect innovators is by convening and growing the community that they will need to thrive. This innovation community includes government, corporations, universities, villages, cities and even family. All of these, when supportive, enable innovators to build more and build better and to do so in a scalable, healthy way. Whether taking a shared value approach or actively breaking down silos that have previously prevented us from interacting, hubs are ensuring that innovators can access who they need to access to grow. They do this through the tried and tested methods: user groups, meetups, fireside chats which all provide open and safe spaces.
We get the best innovations when innovators are at their best. Innovation ecosystems will succeed when innovators are supported and protected beyond their products. Africa rises as Africans rise.