Kenyan, Nigerian entrepreneurs win hardware-focused social innovation accelerator

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Kenyan and Nigerian innovations in clean cooking, feminine hygiene and medical diagnostics have won US$30,000 in cash funding and technical support at the 2020 ASME ISHOW Kenya Virtual Event.

Hosted each year by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME), the 2020 ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) is the premier international accelerator of hardware-led social innovation. 

Eight socially-minded teams of inventors from Kenya, Nigeria, and Egypt presented their design prototypes in a virtual event held on May 19-21, with three inventors emerging as regional winners. They will share US$30,000 in seed grants and receive technical support to help bring their design innovations to market. 

The winners were Kenya’s Ecobora, which is equipping rural marginalised schools with its patented solar-powered cook stove; Kenya’s Inteco, which focuses on the distribution and supply chain management of donated sanitary pads to adolescent girls in schools; and Nigeria’s MicroFuse Technologies, which has developed a tool that enables users to diagnose and detect cerebral malarial retinopathy with a smartphone while also capturing other individual patient data. 

“We are proud to offer a forum for engineering problem-solving that truly improves lives,” said ASME executive director and chief executive officer (CEO) Tom Costabile. “We are continually impressed by the creative talent of ASME ISHOW participants and their passion for helping underserved communities around the world.”

In addition to the three grand prize winners, the product with the most votes in social media for each regional event is named the “Fan Favourite,’’ and receives US$1,000. The winner was Nigeria’s Dunamis-Cognitio, which has developed a sustainable, affordable, portable, light weight, thermoelectric generator that harnesses heat energy to generate electricity accessible from a USB power port.

Another finalist team was recognised with a special “Research and Development Award” for its diligence in improving on a previous innovation and developing the next generation of hardware. That was Kenya’s BURN Manufacturing, which builds a forced draft biomass stove that is compatible with pay-as-you-go (PAYG) solar systems.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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