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Federal government launches N5 million AI research scheme to support startups

Meet the Nigeria AI startup who won Africa Fast Award at global tech event

The Federal Government has introduced an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Scheme aimed at providing financial support to startups and researchers with a focus on AI. Under this initiative, a total of 45 deserving startups and researchers will each receive N5 million in grants.

Bosun Tijani, the Minister of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy, unveiled the opening of applications for this groundbreaking scheme on Friday. The primary objective of this initiative is to promote the widespread use of Artificial Intelligence for the betterment of the national economy. The N5 million grant is intended to facilitate the progress of startups and researchers, ultimately benefiting the economy.

Announcing the scheme’s launch and the commencement of application submissions through a post on a designated platform, the Minister said, “We’ve launched the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme to fund 45 consortia of startups and researchers to allow them to explore further opportunities to deepen their work and build a sustainable AI ecosystem in Nigeria. We are inviting researchers and startups working in AI to apply for up to N5 million at this link [provide link], as we build a strong foundation for our ministry’s efforts to drive innovation, increase productivity in critical sectors, and position Nigeria as a global center for AI technology application.”

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According to information available on the scheme’s website, the focus areas for this research endeavor include Agriculture, Education and Workforce, Finance, Governance, Healthcare, Utility, and Sustainability.

Eligibility for this grant requires that applicants form a consortium that includes a startup or technology company, a Nigerian academic researcher, or a foreign researcher. Their research proposal must align with the Federal Ministry of Communications, Innovation, and Digital Economy’s AI priority areas. Additionally, applicants must submit a detailed proposal outlining their project and its potential impact on the Nigerian economy. Demonstrable excellence in research or entrepreneurship and the ability to publish at least one peer-reviewed article within one year of receiving the grant are also essential eligibility criteria.

The application process for this scheme commenced on October 13, 2023, and will conclude on November 15, 2023. The Ministry has specified that all applications must be submitted through the designated online channel provided. An evaluation panel of AI experts will assess the proposals, and shortlisted applicants will receive email notifications and invitations for interviews.