It was yet another fulfilling and exciting afternoon on Wednesday March 21, 2018 as we witnessed the launch of RAN’s own Pedal Tap- a retrofittable and affordable, hands-free foot operated water-dispensing device that improves hand hygiene, reduces infection spread and minimizes water waste at College of Engineering Design Art and Technology, Conference Hall, Makerere University.
Pedal Tap is one of the products from InnovAsepsis Limited a young, dynamic company whose vision is to create pathogen-free environments through innovative health solutions. The InnovAsepsis team is driven by the passion to improve architectural and cultural suitability related to health, promising a better quality of life in our communities. Pedal Tap is an award-winning design and the first of many more innovative solutions to come. ‘I take this opportunity to sincerely thank you and the entire team at Makerere University School of Public Health-ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) for the support you have given Pedal Tap Innovation as we worked tirelessly to refine the Pedal Tap innovation’ shared a beaming Grace Nakibaala, Pedal Tap Lead Innovator and CEO InnovAsepsis.
The launch of Pedal Tap brought together 76 official guests and 45 students from Johnson and Johnson, RAN, CEDAT, Makerere University, OXFAM International, Kampala Capital City Authority, Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS), Innovation Consortium, Uganda National Council for Science and Technology (UNCST), Infectious Diseases Institute, Medical Face International, Mulago National Referral Hospital, Ministry of Health-Department of Clinical Management and the Business Development Centre.
Prof. William Bazeyo, Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor in-charge of Finance and Administration at Makerere University and RAN’s Chief of Party graced this event representing Prof. Barnabas Nawangwe, Vice Chancellor Makerere University. In his remarks, he thanked all Innovators who are not selfish and freely share knowledge without reservation noting that ‘we can only help each other to succeed by freely joining in knowledge generation and sharing’. He described Grace as a young entrepreneur who is focused, hardworking and committed to realizing set goals and objectives. He shared that Grace joined RAN in September 2015 as one of the participants of the several innovation engaging sessions at RAN highlighting that these sessions include; Innovation Monthly Garages on the last Friday of each month, Ignite series, Pitch Tuesdays, Open Day Innovation Clinics and Human Centered Design trainings among others. That Grace eventually developed interest in innovation after engaging in these sessions at RAN, she later requested to pitch her idea of the Pedal Tap to the RAN team and she benefitted from this opportunity. During the first pitch, Grace’s idea was intensely discussed and torn apart to almost nothing, actually, the team Grace pitched to thought that the now great innovator Grace was then just cracking a big joke in presenting Pedal Tap Innovation. Grace, remained relentless, committed and picked up all comments from the pitch session, formulated a multidisciplinary team as had also been advised during the pitch session and worked even harder on further developing the innovation. Hard working as she is, Grace next presented this innovation at one of the Innovation Garage sessions ready to partner with the Innovation Consortium Limited to support local fabrication of the Pedal Taps. ‘Thank you, dear partners, for closely working with the RAN team to push forth innovation’ noted Prof. Bazeyo. As he addressed the launch participants, Prof. Bazeyo also challenged Grace and all the other innovators to creatively think of how we can contribute to controlling sepsis in health. He said, ‘this innovation Pedal Tap is now ready to hit the market, let us let it transform the communities and start thinking about more innovations dear innovators, I implore you to look out for, find new ideas and quickly work on them. We continue to pledge our continued support to identification, development, incubation and scaling of innovative solutions in Uganda and beyond’.
Dr. Roy William Mayega, RAN Deputy Chief of Party in his remarks noted that Africa has many development challenges, we require more energy and thought to get the ideas out to change Africa. ‘The time is now for Africans and African scholars to take action so that we contribute to the development of our continent’ Dr. Mayega stressed ‘Innovation starts with Identifying pain points causing trouble to the people’ he added. He also encouraged the innovators to always work closely with a multidisciplinary team to put ideas together in order to co-create innovative solutions. Additionally, Dr. Mayega shared that all innovators, students, faculty, the community and non-innovators should strive to benefit from RAN’s Human Centered Design (HCD) training noting that Innovation is a highly innovative art or science so we all need to look or observe very critically how people are behaving in a particular community or area and quickly identify gaps to guide your innovation process. ‘We are all capable of changing the world starting mainly here at Makerere University. The brains in this room are capable of transforming our communities in Uganda, Africa and beyond’ Dr. Mayega shared. He urged Grace Nakibaala, Pedal Tap Lead Innovator to mentor other students and innovators to share the skills gained from this process-Congratulations once again!
Dr. Michael Moscherosch, Director Research and Development, Fellow External Innovation & Alliances Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Johnson and Johnson while addressing the launch participants noted that the secret to success is to fail several times but gather the pieces, stand up and move forward immediately. This is what has seen the Pedal Tap Innovation grow and hit the market in such a glamorous way. He shared that Johnson and Johnson receivedabout 500 applications when their call was put out and from all those applications, they had to select three winners. It is exciting that one of the winning innovations was Pedal Tap. ‘It is a great innovation with an enterprising and an easy to work with Lead. Everyone in the office is happy to engage and work with Grace, something which has made all our lives easier to live given that our efforts are directed towards improving lives in the communities in which we live and serve too’ Dr. Michael Moscherosch noted. He cautioned the Pedal Tap team to ensure that they continue working hard to make profit but also remain vigilant watching out for competition which he envisions will come very soon.
Kampala Capital City Authority’s (KCCA) Director Planning Mr. Moses Atwine graced the launch representing the Executive Director Dr. Jennifer Musisi. ‘Pedal Tap was tested in the KCCA facilities and we are proud to identify with such a successful innovation’ Mr. Atwine noted. He also assured participants of KCCA’s support towards scaling and promoting the Pedal Tap Innovation in different service delivery outlets and also within their mandate. ‘These Pedal Taps are going to be useful in Markets, Primary schools, health centers and public places of convenience in the city among others’, he shared. ‘It is exciting to note that these Pedal Taps will also help us to further manage water usage so that we can also celebrate being on the low per capita side of water wastage’ Mr. Atwine added. He also highlighted that KCCA like any other institution faces several challenges and some of these are waste management with the key question to innovators that can we re-cycle rubbish or plastics for a cleaner city? What can we do to address vandalism? ‘Such and more challenges in our communities should instigate all of us to innovate, Mr. Atwine stressed.
The climax of this event was an awards ceremony where the Pedal Tap Innovation recognized and awarded the different institutions which have walked the journey with them. Among these were; Innovation Consortium Limited who supported their prototyping sessions but also fabrication processes, Ministry of Health-Uganda-for supporting the testing of Pedal Tap, Big Ideas at the Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) University of California Berkeley who were the first ones to believe in Pedal Tap, RAN who nurtured Pedal Tap team’s steps right from inception to fruition. ‘I went to RAN as a baby and learnt to crawl, walk and now I am running, thank you so much RAN Team under the leadership of Prof. Bazeyo for being a part of this journey and Johnson and Johnson- ‘thank you so much for openly sharing your expertise and believing in Pedal Tap. A big thank you to the Pedal Tap Team, it is because of this team that we are here TODAY…thank you! shared an excited Grace Nakibaala.
Support Pedal Tap, Buy Uganda Build Uganda, details about Pedal Tap are shared on http://www.innovasepsis.com/.