Inspiring Problem Solving

Two unrelated but similar lists that highlight ”ground breaking ideas that are changing the way we live work, play and think about what’s possible”.    

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to innovation.
Founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, it encourages talented sub-Saharan African engineers, from all disciplines, to develop local solutions to challenges in their communities.
The Prize selects innovators from across the continent and provides training and mentoring to help turn engineers with incredible ideas into successful entrepreneurs.

Just out is the 2019 shortlist. Included are the innovators behind a smart glove that translates sign language to speech in real time, a secure currency exchange platform that moves money between users instead of banks, and a ‘farm-in-a-box’ vertical garden that uses waste to grow food in small urban spaces.

Also recognised are the creators of a control system for poultry farmers, a smart dryer that enhances the nutritional value of grain, a solar irrigation system specific to semi-arid areas, and a technique for harvesting water from the atmosphere, designed especially for arid and semi-arid areas.

Several of the innovations this year are designed for mothers and young children. Among them are an affordable delivery kit for midwives to improve birth rates, a method for tracking immunisation rates among toddlers, and a language app that allows toddlers and young children to learn basic numeracy and literacy in their native tongue.

A smart locker that dispenses medication for long-term conditions, allowing patients to skip long queues, is one of the health innovations developed by the shortlisted engineers. Another entrepreneur uses an algorithmic approach to proactively combat non-communicable diseases; using maths, statistics and social science research to identify those most at risk and encourage preventative behavioural changes to save lives.

Another business brings together technologies ranging from smart and sustainable building materials to energy and water saving measures into a simple, affordable, quick-to-build housing blueprint aimed at first time home owners.

Manufacturing innovations from the shortlist aim to improve local competitiveness and include a disruptive machine tool technology that cuts and shapes metal or other hard materials, and an online platform that links informal artisans directly to customers. Also among the shortlist is a self-powering cart that captures energy from the wheels’ motion to power the cart – to be used by traders, in hospitals, and on farms and airports to improve productivity.

After seven months’ mentoring and training, four finalists will be selected from the shortlist. In June 2019 the finalists will present their businesses to judges in front of a live audience in Kampala, after which one winner will receive £25,000, and three runners up will be awarded £10,000 each.

For details of the shortlisted candidates and technologies

Every year, TIME highlights inventions that are making the world better, smarter and even a bit more fun

So, what makes a Best Invention? Products, structures and services that make the world a better place by solving social and environmental problems, such as boosting energy efficiency, saving water, reducing food waste and helping underprivileged communities.

The winner in the Sustainability & Social Good category: Lifesaving Delivery Drones

In 2016, Zipline made history by launching the first commercial drone delivery service in the East African nation of Rwanda, expediting the delivery of blood and vital medical supplies to some of the world’s most remote communities.

This year, the California-based startup unveiled a new iteration of its fixed-wing craft that can carry up to 3.85 lb. at 80 m.p.h. for up to 100 miles per round-trip, making it the fastest—and most efficient—commercial delivery drone in the world.

Zipline also streamlined its launch and recovery process, enabling the second-generation Zips to make 500 deliveries per day from their launching center, up from 50. And while Zipline will continue to serve rural communities in Africa, which now have even quicker, easier access to lifesaving supplies, the startup has other ambitions as well.

Credit Aryn Baker: TIME Nov 26 2018 

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