Nothing Normal Ever Changed a Damn Thing

The NIW narrative has always been about innovation, innovation, and innovation. We can define innovation as a new process or idea that yields the desired result. Most innovations yield this result that may appear normal in delivery but in essence, they are not normal.

One of the slogans any person running for office world over is ‘CHANGE’. Change is hard at first, messy in the middle but gorgeous at the end. Change requires you to grow out of your comfort zone into uncharted waters bearing your goal in mind. Normal by all means work within its parameters, thence change requires an eagle eye. One of the best-known examples is the digital camera. Slightly over a decade ago, photographic films were the technology of the day for production of still images. The change brought about the digital camera but still achieved the same result; still images. A process deemed better was invented and accepted.

“Be different,” said the late Steve Jobs. Jobs is well known as the founder of the largest company to date. He built his technology company on from scratch constantly improving, constantly changing to newer ways of delivery.

One of the pillars of the Nairobi Innovation Week is achieving impacting the society through sustainable innovation. Innovations that change the world start as simple ideas to achieve normal results. We encourage you to think different, be different but set realistic and measurable goals.

In business, different ways that yield normal results cause a disruption in their niche of operation. Their mode of operation is different, their way of conducting business is convenient to their clients and their way customer service can be defined as “intimate”. After all, nothing normal ever changed a damn thing but remember there is nothing new under the sun, find that balance.

Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Nairobi Innovation Village – Student Design Competition

13 years from now, where will you be? The year is 2030, most governments have set out goals and objectives they want to have met by then. They will want to review whether they met the set goals and set out new ones. The Kenyan government has not been left out either and we have our very own Vision 2030.

C4dLab is set out to build an innovation village at the Chiromo campus where innovators are provided with a creative space to develop their products or services. We already have a space allocated and we would like to invite students from the College of Architecture and Engineering, University of Nairobi for the STUDENT DESIGN COMPETITION, NAIROBI INNOVATION VILLAGE. The intent of the competition is to provide a practical design challenge for use in a creative architectural design.

What you need to know…

  •         Each team is allowed 1 – 4 members only.
  •         Each member must be a student of the University of Nairobi and have attained 18 years or older.
  •         The registration is ongoing on the Nairobi Innovation Village site.
  •         We do not charge any fees for registration.
  •         The competition seeks entries from both interior and architectural design.

    The proposed site at Chiromo Campus

What are the requirements?

  • 2-D and 3-D renderings that show the character of the project (Minimum of 2, Maximum of 8)
  • Site Plan with buildings and natural elements with scale elements
  • Building and site sections that illustrate program elements
  • Floor plans to exhibit spatial arrangement and program elements
  • Elevations with specific reference to other material
  • All submission material must be submitted as PDF or JPEG files

Soft copy of all works, drawings, and presentations original files must be attached.

One (1) description report of the project no longer than 200 words accompanied with images must be submitted.

The description must be submitted in PDF format and its name must be the registration number given to you by the Nairobi Innovation Village Rep.

The proposed plan of the Nairobi Innovation Village


Ø  Registration opened on November 15th 2017 and closes on 23rd December 2015.

Ø  14th March 2018 is the submission deadline then 2 days later, 16th March 2018 you will get to pitch.

Ø  20th March 2018, the winners will be announced at a dinner (venue will be communicated later).

What are the award prizes?

Winner – KSH 50,000

1st Runners Up – KSH 20,000

2nd Runners Up – KSH 10,000

People’s choice award – KSH 10,000

Register with us and get designing. Remember to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get updates.


They say “there is nothing new under the sun,” however, innovators world over develop new products, companies release new products every so often. In context, there really is nothing new under the sun, just a modification or a new way of doing things since the need for products and services remains fairly constant but trends change.

Take for example Kenya, the largest telecommunication company and the largest bank in regard to market share can be credited as the most innovative companies we have. Safaricom and Equity hold a sizable bank share in their domains of operation and are constantly expanding and getting innovative to retain the status quo and get more customers.


If you are an aspiring innovator or entrepreneur, you need to get innovative by design. Remember, the need you will address has always been there, hence you need to address it in  a unique way.


So, what drives innovation? The most basic levels here;

  •         The individual – the founder has to be self driven.
  •         The team – the founder imparts his vision to his/her team.
  •         The enterprise – the processes at the enterprise must work towards achieving set goals.

These 3 levels form the foundations where you can start innovating. The innovative and creative mind must come at the individual level; the building block of innovation. The individual share their idea with a team that plans a course of action internally and how to achieve set targets. This team should comprise of multidisciplinary skilled individuals. Once the team conforms towards a common goal, the enterprise level comes to play. Successful enterprises have a tendency of resisting change hence some policies may help at this level.


We encourage you to be innovative and share your ideas with a trusted team. Your team will push you to greater heights.


You can enroll at the Nairobi Design Thinking School to learn more about sustainable innovation or visit our offices at the University of Nairobi, Chiromo Campus.  We have developed a short course just for you. Follow this link for more information.



Harold Nelson, co-author of The Design Way famously said, “Design is the action of bringing something new and desired into existence—a proactive stance that resolves or dissolves problematic situations by design. It is a compound of routine, adaptive and design expertise brought to bear on complex dynamic situations.” C4DLab recognizes the potential in design thinking and we have set up the Nairobi Design Thinking School (NDTS).

The NDTS has been conceptualized by C4DLab in partnership with Aalto University, Finland.

When you solve a problem using design thinking and design principles, your success rate for dramatically improves. What is design thinking? Design thinking is a methodology used by designers to come up with solutions that match their client’s needs.

Companies such as Apple, IBM and Nike have innovated and evolved their products by design and very effective, they are the pacesetters in the market. The success of these companies has been very remarkable that competitors are now using design principles to shape their corporations.

The flagship course offered at NDTS is Sustainable Innovation Development set to commence in January 2018. It will be held on Mondays and Thursdays and run through to April 2018. period. The administrative fee charged is Ksh. 15,000.

This is a problem-based learning course that will utilize design thinking principles. The students will be grouped into multi-disciplinary teams and tasked with solving a local industry problem. All eligible students and applicants are encouraged to apply for the course. Follow this link to apply.


The course will be held at the University of Nairobi.

A design mindset, by design, creates a preferred future to subvert a problem.


Remember to register for this course.


The founder of Alibaba, Jack Ma, is scheduled to arrive in Kenya on the 20th July. Over the few years, the country has been graced with the big fish of the world. We were host to the former president of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama. Like goods conveying through a belt in a factory, Zuckerberg (founder of Facebook), a few months ago, followed suit. Kenya is indeed a hub of innovation in its own right, the buzz created within the country on entrepreneurship and innovation is remarkable. Yet, as most things in the world, we tend to judge books by their covers.

We live in a competitive country, whether this is a good or bad thing is left to personal opinion. Unfortunately, this constant rejuvenating vigor of ours tends to push us into a survival limbo. Our economy has obligated us into having more than one source of income. We tend to be workaholics, those that work hard and party hard (over the weekends). Most, are defined by their 8 to 5 jobs but their true self illuminates after when they seek to make ends meet through their side business. This is the entrepreneurship juggle. For most techies, they are held in high esteem by their colleagues on how brilliant their lives seem to be. Beyond the assumptions, lies the bare truth that most techies let their ideas wither due to the uncertainty and the risks involved in running their own businesses in the country.

What is it that takes one to battle all odds? How easy is it to run a tech business in Kenya? Over the next few weeks, we seek to find out the answers. Feel free to share your opinion.