I have never been more scared for my life like the first time I had to cross the roads of Mumbai. It’s crazy, cars are coming from all sides honking and trying to rush past you, the pedestrians fill
the only narrow space and what determines your next move is the ability to calculate the rate in which cars move to the ratio of the space you need to jump into. This I believe is the premise to which innovation starts. It starts from the little sparks of a need or finding a solution. Questioning old models and approaches. Coming up with new ways of thinking and strategies. You generate lots of ideas to find the best by failing fast and fixing. By generating ideas you start by asking lots of questions all of which help us to better understand and define the problem we are attempting to solve.
Lorna Ng’eno a creative in many ways needed to create several skull sculptors for her installation, Drain, that was to premier in a few weeks but hadn’t started working on them yet as
she was trying to get the other elements of her installation created and done in time. If only she had a mould for her sculptors that would make her turn around time shorter? In her frustration she met Roy Ombatti, a Kenyan, who before starting to build 3D printers from recycled materials at Creatives Garage, designed and 3D printed shoes shoes out of recycled materials for people whose feet are deformed because of a jigger infection. She shared her frustration and a few minutes later they came up with an interesting idea of 3D printing the mould for her. Suffice to say two weeks later her installation was on schedule and showcased to art enthusiasts and consumers.
During SIX Mumbai, the connected urban life, I was privileged to visit Imaginarium, which is not only home to 17 industrial 3D printers and allied manufacturing technologies but also India’s
largest 3D Printing company and Makers Asylum, a community maker space.
Other than the numerous 3D printers Roy Ombatti was churning and distributing in Nairobi I had never imagined the immerse applications of 3D printing until I saw the possibilities at
Imaginarium. The possibilities were great, some of their customers were jewelry stores looking for ways to design new designs for their customers others were looking at the possibility of creating bumpers for new car models while a fashion designer needed a new design of a shoe 3D printed. But I think the thing that remained ingrained was the word that I believe summarizes innovation, Jugaad.
Jugaad is a colloquial Hindi word that roughly translates as ‘‘an innovative fix; an improvised solution born from ingenuity and cleverness.’’ Jugaad is, quite simply, a unique way of thinking
and acting in response to challenges; it is the gutsy art of spotting opportunities in the most adverse circumstances and resourcefully improvising solutions using simple means. Jugaad is about doing more with less. 1 Interestingly, the origin of the word jugaad, in Punjabi, literally describes to makeshift vehicles.
As we continue create innovations that embrace shared economies, we start to realize that influence is coming sideways. No longer is it a top to bottom, bottom to up type of revolution
that one that comes from collaboration, shared economies and the need to fail fast and learn fast. But it’s while we create that challenges such as government policies and regulations come to play. While talking about innovation, new ways of making and the possibilities of 3D printing, we also need to think what innovation and disruptive innovation means in the urban connected cities context. During our discussions around new ways of making, Kenya and India was similar in terms of taxes imposed on these innovations. For example; here at home, a gentleman who had created her own windmill that could light up a rural home was required to pay 2000 dollars equivalent in regulation licences to the government while Lawrence who on his 12th prototype was met with challenges of testing as the regulation licences and policies around flying anything in Kenyan space was close to impossible to get.
With the need to patent our innovations and register our startups we are faced with the need to create awareness of what the innovations or startups are all about. Some stringent regulations are
holding back innovators from flourishing in this space as some manufacturing regulations or applications of innovations are met with old draconian laws and regulations.
Ol Pejeta Conservancy, a Kenyan 90,000-acre reserve specializing in protecting white and black rhinos, had teamed up with San Francisco-based tech company Airware, which develops drone autopilot systems. Airware was helping the Kenya Wildlife services by providing Unmanned
aerial vehicles to help track poachers within the Conservancy. The pilot test to this offered promising results. However, A Circular from the Kenyan Government proposed to regulate unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) affectionately known as ‘drones’. In the statement made it was said that “The Government of Kenya has noted with concern the proliferation of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) in the Kenyan Airspace that are operated by various entities or individuals. With immediate effect all Government, private institutions/entities or individuals intending to test, operate or procure UAVs should first seek approval from the Ministry of Defence” It continued to say, “It is true that we don’t have regulations. So the authority is not licensing any drones at the moment. In fact, any drone or small aircraft seen at public functions is being operated illegally” While, this helps us sleep well at night due to security concerns, the Ol Pejeta drones had to be landed and sadly poaching continues to be of great concern.
While we continue to make strides in social innovation and re-thinking and connecting the urban life, it is also imperative that we have forward thinking Governments that are open to providing
room for experimentation, prototyping and scaling without having stringent regulations that discourage innovators. 1. Extracted from Jugaad Innovation booklet Written by Liz Kilili