By Sierra Arinaitwe
The short listed nominees of the Uganda innovation awards have live pitched their ideas to a panel of judges at Makerere university -ahead of the public vote slated to take place between 2nd – 7th November 2021.
The event was presided over by the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovations Office of the President ,Dr. Monica Musenero Masanza who also officially launched the National Science Week -2nd to 9th November. Uganda is also set to commemorate World Science day for Peace and Development on 10th November 2021 at Kololo Independence grounds . The occasion is expected to be graced by President Yoweri Museveni.
The Uganda Innovation Awards were organized by the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) – Office of the President in partnership with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) to celebrate Ugandans’ innovation efforts and inspire young innovators to activate their abilities and contribute to the technology development of the country.
Minister Dr. Musenero said she was impressed by the interest exhibited by Ugandans to compete for the first Uganda innovation awards and the diversity in the applications received, with the youngest innovator being nine years old.
“I would like to thank Ugandans for the great participation in nomination of innovators from across the country. At least 165 nominations were received for the Uganda Science Innovators’ Awards at close of deadline Sunday 24th November 2021, “she said.
Nominations were received from 34 districts including: Kampala (41%); Wakiso (11%); Mbarara (6%); Lira, Mbale, Bushenyi, Kabale, Sheema, Tororo (each 2%); Buikwe, Gulu, Iganga, Kanungu, Kazo, Kiruhura, Luwero, Mukono, Ntungamo, Rukungiri, Amolator, Apac, Bukedea, Busega, Butaleja, Jinja, Kabarole, Kasese, Kiboga, Kyenjojo, Lwengo, Moroto, Moyo and Pakwach (each 1%).
The shortlisted nominees from the eight categories including Engineering (49), Digital Economy (30), Agro-Security (25), Pathogen Economy (23), Mobility (13), Beauty and Apparel (12), STI Science Ambassador (6), and Women Innovators Award (3) interacted with their respective panels of judges who will select the top three in each category to move to public vote to take place between 2nd– 7th Nov 2021.
The winners will receive prizes at a ceremony to be presided over by President Museveni onh November 10th 2021 when the country will celebrate the World Science day for Peace and Development .
Dr. Musenero challenged the innovators to move their ideas towards commercialization to create jobs, wealth and address Uganda’s challenges. She also said her ministry working with partners are putting together a system to mentor and mobilize financing and marketing for the Ugandan innovators.
“As the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (ST&I) – Office of the President in partnership with the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), we are working on a system that escorts an innovation from an idea in an academic institution or in a home up to the market to reduce the death on innovate ideas in Uganda,” she said.
The event was also attended by the Makerere vice Chancellor Prof. Barnabas Nawange and the Kiira Motors Corporation (KMC) Chairman Board of Directors Prof. Sandy Stevens Tickodri- Togboa.
The following categories along the six prioritized industrial value chains that speak to the Strategic Direction of Science, Technology and Innovation – Office of the President have been identified and earmarked for the awards from which twelve winners will be obtained from two age-groups i.e. 18+ and under 18, one from each category:
Pathogen Economy: The award in this category will go to the innovators with innovations targeting disease control and management. The innovations will include; vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, biomedical ICT and Equipment.
Engineering: This award will aim at recognizing innovators with technology related innovations in renewable energy, mechanical, electrical and electronic engineering as well as civil engineering and chemical engineering among others.
Mobility: The awards in this category recognize innovations that augment the national mobility ecosystem conceived to develop, make, sell and/or use sustainable mobility solutions. These include but are not limited to: Vehicles; Auto Parts and Systems; and Digital Mobility Solutions.
Beauty and Apparel: Innovators with innovations in cosmetology and textile processing will be earmarked for this award. It will look into innovations in skincare products and hair products for cosmetics as well as fabric and thread production, fabric recycling, textile production technology and value addition for existing raw materials.
Digital: The digital economy awards will be given to innovators who demonstrate high aptitudes in designing information and communication technologies and applications that ease transmission and knowledge dissemination.
Agro-Security: This award will value innovations in agro processing, agribusiness, soil conservation, agriculture technologies, food preservation and safety applications among others. An Innovator with practical models, devices and applications adding value to food propagation, value addition and food conservation will be awarded.
Additionally, two special award Categories have been provided: Women Innovators Award which will go to a seasoned woman innovator who has registered at least a patent with at least a product on the market; and STI Science Ambassador Award which will recognize the most outstanding scientist in Uganda for their contribution to science innovation and technology. They should have registered at least 5 patents and at least have a product on the market.