The iHub is one of Kenya’s most popular innovation hubs and is viewed by many as one of the successes of Kenya’s thriving technology ecosystem. A while back, iHub announced it was looking to go fully commercial after receiving funding from local tech luminaries Prof Ndemo, Becky Wanjiku, Ken Mwenda and Miguel Granier to allow it scale its operations. The Hub has been funding 70% of its operations through its consulting arms (Research, Consulting, UX Lab), and then the remaining 30% through corporate partnerships and events. The goal of commercialization was to ensure the hub is 100% self-funding.
The next step after the announcement was the recruitment of a CEO to lead these reorganization efforts. Speaking to Techweez back then, Erik Hersman of iHub said they were looking to reorganize their services to create efficiency in core areas such as software, user experience, research, data science and design consultancy offerings. The recruitment of the CEO kicked off in earnest and part of the job description read as below:
We are looking for an experienced executive with a proven track record building tech-oriented companies, including business development and fundraising . This person will provide strong leadership by working with global customers, investors, and donors while demonstrating a passion for innovation and innovators.
The iHub has now announced that research scientist Kamal Bhattacharya is set to join the company as interim CEO. According to his LinkedIn profile Kamal Bhattacharya has worked at IBM for the last 17 years in various capacities. His most recent role was as VP IBM Research Africa before taking a break in July 2016. As interim CEO, Kamal will guide the organization towards implementation of the iHub 2.0 vision, which is carried under the mantra of Connect, Build, Invent. In a blog post on the company’s website, Kamal says he sees several challenges for the company including the need to invent; adapt to the changing needs of the community besides creating value for customers.
This will be implemented using the new mantra where the company will leverage its existing strengths to give value to customers while at the same time working to build solutions by applying their technical skills to create solutions for local and global companies. At the same time, invent differentiating products for clients. iHub was founded in 2010 and has over the period seen its membership grow to 16,000+ members with 28 companies incubated there and over 170+ others growing in the space.