The award was established by Johnson & Johnson to help create localized health care solutions for the people of Africa and help promote a growing innovation ecosystem. This prestigious award recognizes scientists whose discoveries have made, or have the potential to make, significant contributions towards improving human health. The Africa Innovation Challenge is part of the company’s comprehensive approach to collaborate with and support Africa’s vibrant innovation, education and health systems institutions.

The initiative, which received nearly 500 submissions from innovators and entrepreneurs across the continent, solicited novel ideas with a focus on three critical health areas: promoting early child development and maternal health; empowering young women; and improving family well-being. Johnson & Johnson named the winners of the first Africa Innovation Challenge at the Global Entrepreneurship Congress held on March 14th, 2017 in Cape Town South Africa. The congress attracted over 5,000 participants including; innovators, entrepreneurs, students, venture capitalists, private sector experts, NGO workers, Universities faculty, donors, and the general community among others. “Africa is one of the fastest growing regions of the world, and Johnson & Johnson is proud to support this growth through strong collaborations that encourage innovation and accelerate advancements in the continent’s health systems,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson. “We are seeing a surge of activity among entrepreneurs and health system leaders to develop important solutions that overcome longstanding health and societal challenges. By working together, we hope to bring meaningful solutions to patients and consumers more rapidly, to help cultivate the next generation of scientists, and to support Africa’s entrepreneurial base.” Paul added. It was also a rich engagement opportunity for the innovators and participants too learning from each other and building on the existing for a better community. The winners of the Africa Innovation Challenge included;

  • Pedal Tap (Uganda) -providing non-touch water taps to reduce the spread of infection and water wastage, and improve family well-being in Uganda.
  • Kernel Fresh from Liberia –developing organic cosmetics produced from local palm kernel oil, that would otherwise go to waste, purchased from more than 1,000 women farmers.,
  • Project Agateka from Burundi-providing reusable sanitary pads to help empower young girls.

Grace Nakibaala   a graduate architect by profession is the brain behind the Pedal Tap innovation at Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) Grace works with a passion for Architectural and cultural suitability and infection prevention and control in both community and occupational health leveraging her over 5 years experience researching, working and innovating in that line.

PedalTap innovation is a retrofittable affordable hands free foot operated water dispensing system.  It is designed to reduce the growth and frequency of potent and infectious diseases spread at water points in public spaces. The Pedal Tap is currently being piloted at Uganda’s National Referral Hospital, Public schools, washrooms and offices. ‘As an innovator, it is helpful to have someone to hold your hand and walk the journey with you, help you to scale your approach or innovation. The dream and goal of the Pedal Tap Team is to see impact in the communities and partners including ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), Makerere University and Johnson and Johnson among others are keenly offering the support directed towards realizing our goal. PedalTap is launching!’ shared Grace.

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