Female students scoop award for innovative concept at Innovators Summer School

Kampala, 11 August 2012 (ECA) – Two students from Kyambogo University and Makerere University scooped the Award for the Most based on their proposed “Blood Grouping Strip” . Ms Bagayana Shiellah and Achem Rose conceived and developed the during the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa supported Innovators Summer School 2012 held in Kampala from 6-10 August 2012. The Strip, if developed, would be a cheap, fast, and reliable blood grouping test that can be used in the field and in the hospital. It highlighted the unique insight that female students and researchers bring to engineering as the technique proposed is similar to that used in pregnancy tests.

The other two awards were given for concepts with ‘high economic impact’ and with ‘high social impact’. The improved low cost baby incubator concept put forward by two male students from Kyambogo University and Kenyatta University was recognized for its high economic potential while the treatment of jiggers advanced by one female (Malawi) and two male students (Uganda and Kenya) was recognized as the concept with a high potential social impact. The three Awards were selected out of ten team projects developed during the Summer School.

Speaking during the Award Ceremony held at the Uganda Industrial Research Institute (UIRI), Mr. Victor Konde noted that all the teams had made remarkable progress in improving the ideas presented earlier in the week into exciting research and business concepts. He noted that all the projects had radically changed either in approach or design during the five days. He therefore, called on the students to collaborate and improve their concepts to enable them to participate in the Innovation Prize for Africa and the International Design Competition by the ECA and its partners. Mr. Konde was speaking on behalf of the Aida Opoku-Mensah, Director of ISTD, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa.

Speaking at the same event, Prof. Charles Kwesiga, the Executive Director of UIRI, called on the students and researchers to utilize the state-of-the-art facilities available at UIRI to transform their concepts into innovative products and firms. He informed the participants that UIRI offers world class research and development facilities as well as on-site technology and business incubation support.

The Awards were presented by the Vice-Chancellor of Makerere University on behalf of the Minister of Education and Sport, Ms. Alupo Jessica Rose Epel. In a statement read on her behalf, the Minister noted it was gratifying to see students excel in a field that is traditionally dominated by men. She encouraged universities to inspire their students to become entrepreneurial and innovative.

The Vice-Chancellor of Kyambogo University noted that the Innovators Summer School had played a key role in informing students and researchers the basics of biomedical device design, technology commercialization and entrepreneurship competencies. He congratulated all the participants, the organizing teams and ECA and its partners for championing the process. He noted that all the concepts presented were outstanding taking into consideration that most of the students were in first or second year of their studies in the various four-year programmes.

Background

All the students to the Innovators Summer School are required to present one idea on the first day. A total of 25 innovative biomedical engineering solutions were presented out of which 10 were selected by a panel of 9 judges. The students then formed teams composed of two to three students from different universities, preferably from different countries.

This component of the Summer School is designed to stimulate students to indentify challenges in society and learn the process of bringing a solution to market. Specifically, to let students improve their team building skills, information seeking competencies and planning and implantation strategies. Students are free to interact with their peers and identify potential coaches and mentors as well as consult researchers and industrial experts or use resources of participating institutions to advance their designs.
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