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ACE-DS launches a Data-Driven Incubation Hub

A new Data-Driven incubation hub that seeks to transform students' ideas into solutions that can be of importance to the country and beyond, has been launched at the African Centre of Excellence in Data Science (ACE-DS) located at the headquarters of the University of Rwanda (UR) in Kigali.

Established in 2016, the ACE-DS seeks to deliver quality post-graduate education and build collaborative research capacity in data science. Currently it has MSc and PhD programs in Data Science in: Data mining, Econometrics, Biostatistics, Actuarial Science and Demographics."

The Director of the ACE-DS while addressing the audience

The data-driven incubation hub is aimed at supporting innovators by giving them skills as well as a platform for testing data solution in real life environments by working with commercially viable entities to launch companies and products into the national, regional and internatonal market.

It tends to offer young innovators and entrepreneurs a wide range of business development services including but not limited to; business idea analysis and diagnostics, mentorship, product or prototypes development and registration services, work station provisions, specialized training, market access, pitching and networking services.

Speaking in a media interview, Jennifer Batamuliza, the head of data-driven incubation hub, said the institution is welcoming applications from people who want tp be part of the hub, and will support them through different stages of their journey to have their ideas develop to a level where they can even be commercialised.

"As a hub, we bring the students with brilliant ideas together, give them different modules on how to know the customer needs for example, how to design their prototype, how to develop their products,but also give them lessons about branding, intellectual property, marketing," she noted.

Some of the hub's areas of interest include Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning, Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Software development and 3D Additive Manufacturing.

Dr. Didas Kayihura Muganga, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Rwanda, in a media interview, talked about the importance of data in Rwanda, noting that policies and projects done in the country need to be informed by data.

"The government has a commitment to make Rwanda a knowledge based economy, meaning they want to base decisions on knowledge and data," he noted.

The hub has issued a call for proposals for innovative ideas or projects in AI for agriculture, health and climate innovative ideas and prototypes about incubation programs whereby those with innovative ideas will be incubated for 6 months at the hub to help them develop products from their ideas.

During the period of incubation, the selected "incubatees" will be provided with different training that will play a role in developing their ideas towards the commercialization stage. They will also be provided with mentors who will support and train them in things like pitching to potential investors, building networks for entrepreneurs and so on.