On June 24th, 2016 Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) in conjunction with Innovation Consortium Limited was delighted to host the RAN 12th Innovation Garage guided by the theme “Catalyzing Engineering Solutions” at the RAN Office Premises, Plot 30 Upper Kololo Terrace, Kampala Ugnada. The event brought together a total of 125 multidisciplinary participants hailing from Makerere University, Plan International, Palliative Care Association of Uganda, to mention but a few.
Marking 1 Year in existence, the RAN 12th Innovation Garage featured an Innovation Marketplace. The marketplace exhibited all the previous garage innovations in addition to a few other innovations of great interest and inspiration.
The event was kick started with a quick overview about the garage and its activities. Grace Nakibaala, the RAN Innovation Garage Vice President encouraged all participants to innovate and by the time they left the Garage session, each should be priding with something different-innovation. Before officially opening this Garage session, she shared a few testimonies of Innovations which have benefited from the Garage.
The Innovation Marketplace showcased innovations including; the PedalTap, Solar powered incubator, eMusawo, Kungula! Maize Thresher, BV Kit, D bed, FISTApp, improved Sewing Machine, LOCO GM and Awamu Biomass Energy. The Innovation Consortium Limited also showcased prototypes of some of their innovations such as Drum seats and locally manufactured bicycles. Eng. Ephraim Malinga, one of the Innovators at RAN also practically engaged participants in a demonstration of how the RAN 3D Printer operates and work.
After intensively engaging with the innovations and innovators in the Marketplace, participants viewed the Fabrication Shed designed to aid further Innovation hands-on activities. This shed is equipped with various fabrication tools including; CNC computer controlled machines that cut metals based on required designs.
Deborah Naatujuna, RAN’s Engagement Manager joined the team to congratulate the innovators for having remained committed to the Garage sessions and come thus far, one year of existence and support to community innovators. The RAN Innovation Garage sessions happen every last Friday of the month and innovations, ideas, projects and prototypes discussed are directed towards addressing community challenges ranging from those related to; health, water, Agriculture and transport among others.
Key for highlight of the innovations supported in these Garage sessions is the Improved Sewing Machine, ran by a motor while using only one thread rendering it easy to undo the thread in case of a mistake. This innovation also being manually operated comes to the aid of the disabled especially persons without legs since these can use their hands to move the machine motors. Paul Omare, the innovator behind this emphasized the fact that this machine will also include an improved motor that will help run it faster.
The Improved Sewing Machine innovation prototype was displayed and the innovator explained in detail how all its components work/operate. Byron Ssemalago, one of the Lead innovators and Engineers at the Innovation Consortium Limited openly appreciated the trend this particular innovation had taken recognizing Paul’s (innovator’s) efforts. “Before complicating something, it is always important to first simplify it, Byron noted while emphasizing the simplicity in this innovation. Some of the suggestions towards improving the Sewing Machine were; improving the shape of the machine, improving the stitching ability and including a self-cutting mechanism to the machine. Brian, one of the innovators said, ‘’It is always important to try out new ideas but in order to move forward, everyone should try doing real things. Innovate for the people.’’
With excitement, Eng. Dr. Dorothy Okello, RAN Director Innovations, expressed the need to always start small. She stressed the fact that RAN incubates innovations that can be impactful to the communities in Uganda, Africa and beyond. She emphasized also emphasized the need to understand who your beneficiaries and customers are while innovating since various innovations have targeted potential beneficiaries and customers who will be willing to spend their money to buy the products.
RAN’s Deputy Chief of Party Dr. RoyWilliam Mayega, also shared that RAN is one of the networks leading in resilience strengthening while fully mentoring young people, faculty, students and the community at large towards further building their creativity and innovativeness. He also shared about how the RAN team engaged in a discussion on how to create an Innovation space where people especially the youths would be able to bring together creative and innovative ideas directed towards solving communities’ most pressing challenges and this led to the birth of the RAN Innovation Garage. ‘’The Garage encompasses various disciplines including those from Social Sciences, Engineering, Agriculture, and Economics among others who have increased its capacity. However, it is important to note that these innovations do not come from a far, but rather from around and within us. Innovators therefore need a conducive environment to allow in-depth innovative and creative thinking but also allows them to freely brainstorm in teams or groups.’’
He also noted that most ideas fail to get to the market or even win sponsorship/funding majorly because they are still in their early stages and most innovators fear to further their ideas due to the fact that whenever they receive criticism, they are discouraged, pulling the innovation to a standstill. “Most of the innovators do not have a business plan and worse still have not carried out a Needfinding with the potential end users (to establish the actual need), yet most investors are looking for where to invest in order to be able to make profits” Dr. Mayega added. This was inspirational to the innovators who pledged their commitment to making good use of all the ideas shared about their innovations to further develop these ideas, prototypes, and or projects. One of the innovators exclaimed; “RAN is a place to be!”
The National Union of Coffee Agribusiness and Farm Enterprises (NUCAFE) at the closure of this event served each participant a cup of coffee with ‘a Rolex’ (fried egg rolled in a chapatti) keeping all smiling and focused on developing ‘Solutions through Innovation’.
Do not miss the next RAN Innovation Garage session scheduled Friday, July 29th, 2016 with a new set of innovations and exciting reports on the impact of the Garage on different innovations, individuals and communities.
“Solutions through Innovation”