The University of Liberia (UL) and UNDP Liberia have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to commence the implementation of a University Innovation Pods (UniPod) Project.
According to a UNDP release, the project aims to encourage students in universities to engage in innovation and design thinking as part of the new UNDP Africa Timbuktoo Initiative taking place in 11 countries across the continent. These countries include Benin, Guinea, Lesotho, Malawi, Mali, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Sudan, Togo, Uganda, and Liberia.
At a brief signing ceremony that took place on July 27, 2023, on the main campus of the University of Liberia, UNDP Resident Representative, Louis Kuukpen, described the initiative as an opportunity to test students' imagination as they create ideas and find solutions to critical issues.
Kuukpen said the signing of the MOU demonstrates a call to action to accelerate the implementation of the UniPod project as they work closely with think tanks and other partners to ensure that it is accessible to other students and sustained.
Responding, the President of the University of Liberia Dr. Julius Nelson expressed appreciation to UNDP and its partners for what he termed “Turning a dream into reality” with the commencement of the UniPod project.
Dr. Nelson said the project sets the stage for helping the UL achieve some of its goals in digitalization and innovation.
The US$600,000 (six hundred thousand) UniPod Project funded by UNDP, is multi-pronged and focuses on supporting and growing innovative, scalable, and impactful entrepreneurship by young people of Africa while relying on a springboard of partners who together contribute meaningfully to building an African youth innovation and start-up ecosystem.
In Liberia, the UniPod will be hosted at the River View Complex, Fendall, University of Liberia. In addition, an Orange Digital Center in Congo Town in Monrovia will feed into the UniPod at the University of Liberia in partnership with Icampus.
The UniPOD will have a design Lab which will create a space where students can learn how to think about problems differently and design solutions using dedicated tools, a space equipped and staffed to enable innovators to make things and supports rapid prototyping & digital -driven production as well as a space to inspire creative collaboration and networking of students, workshops, and events.