A robust startup ecosystem comprises startups as well as supporting organizations that provide resources, networking, and access to capital. Port Harcourt is becoming recognized globally as a startup city as evidenced by its appearance on StartupBlink’s 2019 Startup Ecosystem Rankings, where it debuted at the 653rd position out of 1000 cities behind only three other Nigerian cities; Lagos (99th), Abuja (143rd) and Ikeja (354th).
Port Harcourt’s featuring on the startup global ranking is attributed to the presence of many startups, coworking spaces, and startup events in the city. One such event is the Startup Port Harcourt Week Conference which launched in 2016, with the aim of building a sustainable ecosystem that encourages innovation and a pathway for startups to grow into modern-day corporations.
Every year since then, the conference has brought together stakeholders in the city’s startup ecosystem along with academics and policymakers to connect, inspire, showcase, explore, launch products and participate in conversations that would shape the city’s future, and unlock the potentials of the digital and creative economy.
A theme is used to guide conversations at the conference. For the maiden edition, the focus was on ecosystem collaboration. In 2017, the conversation was centered on how to position Port Harcourt to transform itself to become a dominant player in the new industrial era. Last year, the conversation was about how startups can create value to attract funding. This year is no exception as the attendants will deliberate on ways to explore new investment opportunities to support the digital and creative sectors in the city.
Over the past few years, considerable efforts have been made by the Nigerian government to diversify her economy from the oil sector to explore and promote other non-oil sectors such as the technology and creative sectors. This is in a bid to contribute to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and to create jobs for her large youth population. Recent advancements in technology in the areas of 5G technology, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Virtual Reality, and Blockchain Technology promise great prospects to those that can leverage them and the Nigerian government is beginning to recognize this potential.
This year’s conference will delve into these areas while also analyzing crucial, yet understated topics such as glocalization and standardization of indigenous products. Furthermore, it will examine the potential boost that the adoption and utilization of these innovative solutions would have on the city in the areas of entrepreneurship, prosperity, security, and stability. Also, the conference will dig into the ways in which the oil economy can be leveraged to transform Port Harcourt into Africa’s leading innovation hub.