The first Microsoft Innovation Centre (MIC) in Uganda will focus on skills building, jobs and opportunity creation and fostering innovation. Ã¢‚¬Å“This centre is a major milestone for our country particularly the young people who now have a world-class facility to hone their skills,Ã¢‚¬ said Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda, the Minister of Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Rugunda, who officiated at the launch of the Centre at the College of Computing and Information Sciences, Makerere University on Monday 21st November, 2011 added that the MIC would provide support to small and medium enterprises (SMEs), independent software vendors and also encourage student collaboration, provide support to new start-up companies, and act as the test laboratory centre for the development of software projects.
The new Innovation Centre, located at the College of Computing and Information, Makerere University is an extension of the global Microsoft Innovation Centre network and is designed to promote the development of innovation and growth of the Ugandan software economy. The facility is a result of a partnership agreement between the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and Microsoft, building on UNIDOÃ¢‚¬„¢s already established technical cooperation programmes in Uganda.
Speaking on behalf of UNIDO, the United Nations Resident Commissioner, Theophane Nikyema, said UNIDO and Microsoft had signed a strategic collaboration in 2006 to tackle the root causes of poverty by promoting innovative uses of ICTs that support entrepreneurship and help promote investment and create business opportunities, especially for SMEs in Sub-Saharan Africa.
Ã¢‚¬Å“This Centre is yet another deliverable within the UNIDOÃ¢‚¬Microsoft partnership. It will act as an incubator for innovation, technology training and industry skill transfer and actively contribute to economic growth and prosperity in Uganda. I am confident that prospective employers from both, the public and private sector will value the contribution that this Centre can make to skills development, particularly for the youth,Ã¢‚¬ Nikyema added.
The Partnership Manager for UN/Microsoft, Alethea Lodge-Clarke noted that the centre will provide young entrepreneurs, students, developers and researchers access to expert information and high-tech equipment for testing and developing the latest technologies built on the Microsoft platform.
The Makerere University Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Venansius Baryamureeba, said the facility provides the University with an opportunity to engage in more strategic collaborations with other Microsoft Research laboratories thus benefiting from their technical expertise. Ã¢‚¬Å“This will go along way in fulfilling the UniversityÃ¢‚¬„¢s strategic plans aimed at strengthening our knowledge transfer partnerships and increasing our research output,Ã¢‚¬ he added.
The function was attended by the Minister of Education and Sports, Hon. Jessica Alupo, ambassadors, officials from the National Information Technology Authority-Uganda and members of the ICT fraternity.
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