The air at the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) lab was filled with excitement and anticipation, as we ushered in the end of yet another month with one of our greatly celebrated innovation garage sessions.

The Innovation Garage events take place on the last Friday of the month at the RAN lab and are guided by the Theme “Catalyzing Engineering Solutions”. The garage offers a platform where inventors and creative thinkers can pitch their ideas before a multidisciplinary audience. The Innovators are then given the chance to engage the audience in discussions concerning their innovative ideas and products. By so doing, they are able to further refine these ideas and products through the feedback offered.

The July, 2016 Innovation Garage which was moderated by RAN’s Innovations Scaling and Business Modelling expert and mentor- Brian Ndyaguma, showcased two innovations, ‘The Fruiti-Cycle’ and a ‘Water Purification System that uses Activated Carbon Filters’ and brought together 85 multidisciplinary participants.

The Fruit-cycle

The first pitch of the day came from BenWokorach- one of the co-founders of the ‘Fruiti-Cycle’ innovation (https://www.globalinnovationexchange.org/innovations/fruiti-cycle). The concept of the ‘Fruiti-cycle’ was conceived by a multidisciplinary team of six who were joined by their experience and backgrounds in agriculture. The project aimed to eliminate post harvest wastage through use of an electric, motorized tricycle mounted with a refrigerating storage unit that would enable perishable fruits and vegetables to be transported safely and conveniently and would allow up to 5 times more produce to be transported on every journey than traditional bicycles. The group identified a potential market of 5 million consumers for the product in Uganda and roughly 300 million in Africa.

Among the general feedback and comments given were suggestions to;

  • Improve the general mechanical make-up of the tricycle to enable it utilize power saving mechanisms like Pulse Width Modulation (PWM).
  • Consider motorizing the bicycle to ease the work of farmers who will have to transport heavy loads of produce.
  • Consider how long the fruiti-cycle will be under warranty and whether its users would be insured.
  • Put into consideration the road network for the Fruiti-cycle to inform further design.

The Water Purification System that Uses Activated Carbon Filters

The second and final pitch of the day was by Timothy Kayondo – the developer of the Water Purification System that uses Activated Carbon Filters. The system, which offers a chemical free alternative to water purification, is comprised of three stainless steel cylinders packed with activated carbon (charcoal) and sand in varying ratios. The system’s founder highlighted that the tool would be usable for even the most contaminated water sources and would work to remove color and odor from such water, to make it drinkable. In addition to the filters, the purification system would also include an automated valve that would prevent suspended particles attaching to the filters.

Among the general feedback and comments were suggestions to:

  • Carry out further research on how activated carbon is treated prior to its use in the water purification system, to know whether it is truly a better alternative to Chlorine.
  • Include a meter at the end of the system that tests the purity of the water.
  • Insert a mechanism in this system that allows end-users to know when service is required.
  • Re-consider the design/size of the current prototype so that it occupies less physical space.
  • Consider current requirements and standards of water-purification systems.
  • Consider ways by which purification of water through the system can be hastened.
  • Carry out further research about the competitors that are currently on the market in order to best position the innovation.
  • Consider who the market for this product is and how the scale of the project will be done.

Do not forget to support one of our very own Innovator Julius Mugaga byvoting for the ‘Jaga box’ for the ‘HiiL Innovating Justice Awards’ (https://innovatingjustice.com/en/projects/jaga-box).

The dream of the RAN Innovation Garage participants is to see locally developed technologies launched on the global market! These sessions help promote and support local innovative solutions to address communities’ most pressing challenges. “Thank you RAN Team for inviting me to this Garage session, I have learnt a lot but also been able to join in sharing some of the knowledge I have always kept in my head with the Innovators” one of the Garage participants shared.

For more information and for highlights from previous Innovation Garage events, visit the RAN Website: http://www.ranlab.org/monthly-innovation-garage.

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