Many engineers and startups have ideas that could change the world but lack the infrastructure to make them a reality. That is why the Start a Factory Program was created with the goal of assisting startups and young innovators to turn their visionary ideas into prototypes. This creates a perfect opportunity for the vital step from the first idea until a tangible prototype that is ready for industrial production.

Innovation Lab at the DigiCenter Kigali

Reshaping the Startups’ Ecosystem

Following a national call for applications, over 25 teams applied to participate in the Start a Factory Program. The top 10 teams with the greatest ideas were chosen to participate in the SAF program, which aims to take these concepts from a first draft to being ready for industrial production. The chosen teams benefited from a wide range of services, which included: team solutions for later reproduction on standard equipment, fully equipped workspace at the DigiCenter and facility use concepts, process briefs as well as development and prototype construction.

Experts from IZM Fraunhofer Institute introduced the machines and taught participants on how to operate them safely. In addition, the team of experts lead the participants step by step through stages of product development in unique approach that combines design thinking, business modelling and impact assessment.

Bringing the Startups to the next Level

The participants were able to use the lab which is equipped with machines ranging from hand tools to 3D printers, laser cutters and other equipment which is limited or no available in Rwanda. All teams were provided access to financial, legal and business advisors. Depending on their needs, they also received advice on their initial financial accounting and legal setup. Furthermore, the teams were also given a fully equipped workspace at the DigiCenter to continue developing, testing and implementing the first product from a machine available in the Innovation lab at the DigiCenter.

Watch the video below to find our more about SAN TECH’s EVS System that was developed during the Start a Factory Program.

The Start a Factory Program is just one of the activities we support at the DigiCenter. If you would like to get to know more about our work, have a look at our solutions and events, and follow us on social media.

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