By Chimezie Godfrey
A total sum of N53 million in prize money was won at the end of a keenly contested hackathon session at the Second Edition of the Zenith Tech Fair, themed “Future Forward 2.0”, which was held on Wednesday, November 23, 2022, at the Eko Convention Centre, Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.
The prize money was shared among eleven finalists who emerged from the over 500 contestants that took part in the hackathon, with Ecotutu, a cleantech company making cooling affordable and accessible for businesses, especially in the agricultural sector, emerging as the overall winner and taking home the grand prize of N20 million. This is in addition to a mentorship programme with Seedstars, a company dedicated to implementing high-quality capacity-building programmes for entrepreneurs in emerging markets.
The first runner-up, Foris Labs, an app-based platform that allows students to conduct science experiments individually and in groups interactively via their mobile phones, won N15 million and a mentorship programme with Seedstars, while the second runner-up, Finva, a start-up which helps creditors offer credits at low risk, won N10 million as well as a mentorship programme with Seedstars. Other finalists who took home N1million each include Sanwo, Itinu -Ev, Eduvacity, Green Bii, Zion Robotics, Sono Care, Base, and I grow Africa.
Speaking during the presentation of the prize monies, the Group Managing Director/CEO of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, congratulated all the finalists for coming this far in the competition. He reiterated the bank’s readiness to provide all that is necessary to make the budding entrepreneurs succeed. According to him, “all finalists would be enlisted into our incubation lab for grooming and mentorship. Our expectation is that we are going to scale and grow them just like the zenith brand. So, looking at what we have gone through, I can tell you that so much iron has been loaded on fire. The only thing left is to activate the digital talents, tech skills and entrepreneurship that would culminate in a new digital economy for Nigeria”.
Described as a huge success by participants, the two-day Tech Fair featured presentations on the leading technological innovations that cut across different aspects of life, such as Artificial Intelligence, Computing, Machine Learning, Blockchain, Robotics, Big Data, FinTech, Augmented Reality, Data Analytics, 5G and Communication Technologies, with the keynote address, “The Future of Banking: Digital Transformation Journey”, delivered by Brett King, the renowned futurist, bestselling author, award-winning speaker, Founder of Moven and Author of Bank 4.0.
The event also featured a goodwill message by Jim Ovia, CFR, Founder and Chairman of Zenith Bank and opening remarks by Ebenezer Onyeagwu, Group Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc and Chairman of Body of Banks’ CEOs, Nigeria. Other eminent IT practitioners from top global brands who also made presentations include; Tarik Alatovic, Senior Partner, McKinsey; Juliet Ehimuan, West Africa Director, Google; Ola Williams, Country Manager, Microsoft Inc.; Andrew Uaboi, Vice President/Head, Visa West Africa; Mrs Rakiya Mohammed, Director of Information Technology, CBN; Chris Lu, Managing Director, Huawei Technologies Nigeria, and Dame (Dr.) Adaora Umeoji, OON, Deputy Managing Director of Zenith Bank Plc, amongst others.
The fair featured three panel sessions. The first panel, which examined “The future of payments: what next and how can we get there”, had Prof. Yinka David West of Lagos Business School as the host, with four discussants, including Agada Apochi, Managing Director, UPSL; Olu Akanmu, Managing Director, Opay; Premier Oiwoh, Managing Director, NIBBS; and Kari Tukur, V/P & Head of Products East/West Africa, MasterCard.
The second panel explored the theme “What are the main challenges of digital transformation in the financial industry? How do we solve them?”. It was hosted by Brett King and had four discussants, including Tosin Eniolorunda, Managing Director, TeamApt; Obi Emetarom, Managing Director, Appzone; Dr. Babatunde Obrimah, COO, FintechNGR; and Olugbenga Agboola, Founder/CEO, Flutterwave.
The third panel discussion, titled “Driving the global trade revolution with technology: current transformation trends”, was hosted by Samuel Eze, Founder/CEO, Ourpass, and had five discussants, including Mike Ogbalu III, Managing Director, PAPSS; Akeem Lawal, Divisional CEO, Interswitch; Massimiliano Spalazzi, Country Manager, Jumia; and Dr. Ozoemena Nnaji, Director of Trade & Exchange, CBN.