The submission of applications for the 7th edition of Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) will close on 10 January 2018. Already, before the end of December 2017, over 7,500 applications were received. Last year 2,500 were received.
IPA, a baby of African Innovation Foundation (AIF) launched in 2011 is held annually “to support African innovators by unlocking their potential and catalyzing the African innovation spirit, promoting home-grown solutions for Africa’s prosperity” according to the Foundation.
The theme for seventh edition is: “Investing in inclusive innovation ecosystems.”
The 7,500 entries received came from 52 countries featuring 55 of the continent’s top innovators and more that 400 innovation enablers.
A total share prize of US$ 185,000 is to be shared among the top ten successful African innovators who demonstrate scalable, impactful, market-oriented, and outstanding innovations for solving African challenges. In addition to the prize, selected innovators are offered opportunities, through AIF networks and ZuaHub that will be a help for their growth.
AIF has supported past winners and nominees with over US$ 1 million to help their innovations grow. And also through the exposure received via IPA, they have been able to secure over US$ 30 million in investments to grow and develop their businesses.
Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, the IPA Director commented on the 7th edition says: “We are pleased to launch it and confident that it will prove bigger and better in terms of participation and quality of submissions.” She added: “IPA has gone from strength to strength attracting innovators across disciplines and with outstanding solutions to African challenges. For the seventh edition, we also look forward to expanding our ever-growing network of innovators, enablers and partners in order to join hands to build stronger, more sustainable innovation ecosystems that will propel the continent forward.”
IPA’s goal, she explains, is to strengthen African innovation ecosystems by supporting a culture of innovation and competitiveness, whilst spurring growth of innovative, market-driven African solutions to African challenges.
Specifically, IPA honours and encourages pioneering achievements that contribute towards developing new products, increasing efficiency and/or saving cost in Africa. Applications would be accepted from all Africans including those living in the diaspora. This edition encourages greater participation from women innovators who are increasingly playing a key role in driving African economies forward through business and entrepreneurship.
The entries will be judged on the backdrop of IPA’s theme supporting social and economic innovation in the following five categories: manufacturing and service industry; health and well-being; agriculture and agri-business; environment, energy and water; and ICT showcasing ground-breaking innovations.
IPA 2018 winners will be announced at an annual ceremony in July 2018 at a date and place to be announced later. The Award is the leading innovation event on the African calendar, bringing together some of Africa’s most inspiring innovators and entrepreneurs, leaders of hubs and accelerators, angel and venture capital investors, development institutions, government leaders, media practitioners and other game changers.
This year’s theme 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.
The Chairman of AIF Board, Mr. Walter Fust, has this to say about IPA: “IPA is a platform to showcase the inherent ingenuity that exists in Africa. 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.”
Photo: Three outstanding winners of 2017 edition posing with the prize award (IPA)