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7th Innovation Prize for Africa Seeks Solutions for Africa's Biggest Challenges

Winners of the 2017 Innovation for Africa Prize include an Electronically Controlled Gravity Feed Infusion Set, which is designed to accurately administer intravenous fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow; a smart bearing that significantly improves turbine performance in single line combined cycle plants; and a rapid test that can detect and simultaneously differentiate at least three to seven infections at the same time. | Image credit: Innovation Prize for Africa

The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) has announced the seventh edition of the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA), with this year’s theme focusing on “investing in inclusive innovation ecosystems.” The IPA seeks to celebrate outstanding breakthroughs that deliver practical, sustainable and commercially viable solutions to African challenges.

The call for entries for the seventh edition of the Innovation Prize will run for three months from 10 October 2017 until January 2018 and is open to all Africans, including those living abroad. This year’s edition encourages greater participation from women innovators who are increasingly playing a key role in driving African economies forward through business and entrepreneurship.

IPA’s goal is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems by supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness while spurring growth of breakthrough solutions to African challenges. Specifically, IPA honors and encourages pioneering achievements that contribute towards developing new products, increasing efficiency and/or saving costs in Africa.

“We are pleased to launch IPA 2018 and are confident that this edition will prove bigger and better in terms of participation and quality of submissions. With each edition, IPA has gone from strength to strength attracting innovators across disciplines and with outstanding solutions to African challenges,” said Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, Director of IPA.

“For this seventh edition, we look forward to expanding our ever-growing network of innovators, enablers and partners in order to join hands and build stronger, more sustainable innovation ecosystems that will propel the continent forward.”

This year’s theme ‘Investing in Inclusive Ecosystems’ calls for African governments and innovation stakeholders to invest in building bridges for more inclusive ecosystems that will accelerate and scale African innovation at all levels of society. The aim is to increase access to innovative financing and know-how and to enhance collaboration between African nations to enable local innovators to access higher value markets for their solutions at a faster rate.

Submissions will be judged against the IPA’s themes supporting social and economic innovation across five categories: manufacturing and service industry; health and well-being; agriculture and agri-business; environment, energy and water; and ICT showcasing groundbreaking innovations. A grand share prize of $185,000 will be awarded to 10 winners who demonstrate scalable, impactful, market-oriented and outstanding innovations solving African challenges. Additionally, selected innovators are offered access to the AIF networks via its ZuaHub platform, where AIF connects startups with the necessary resources to help them grow.

“IPA is a platform to showcase the inherent ingenuity that exists in Africa,” said Walter Fust, Chairman of the AIF Board. “Each year, several hundred participants submit their entries with new solutions to overcome African-specific challenges. This year we want to drive greater pan-African synergies across our network of enablers and partners to create inclusive opportunities for local innovators and together disrupt business models, empower people and drive positive social impact across the continent.”

Over 2,500 submissions were received from across the continent for last year’s challenge. This year is expected to be the biggest yet. To date, IPA has attracted more than 7,500 entrepreneurs spanning 52 countries. Previously, AIF has supported past winners and nominees with over $1 million to move their innovations forward. And as a result of the exposure from the IPA, past winners have gone on to secure over $30 million in investments to grow and scale their businesses.

Last year’s winners included a technology to accurately administer IV fluids and drugs by controlling the rate of fluid flow based on feedback from a drop sensor; a solution that supports energy generating turbines that can be used to improve efficiency and reduce costs of generating energy in Africa; and a multiple disease rapid detection test.

The winners of the Innovation Prize for Africa 2018 will be announced at the end of July 2018. The selection process will be led by an expert panel based on their knowledge and experience within IPA’s five key sectors, we well as their influence and contributions to the tech and business industry on the African continent.


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