Following the Big Ideas at UC Berkeley 2017 ( contest that launched in September 2016, it is exciting to note that all the 6 Teams from Makerere University that participated in the final round won Awards.The good news was announced on May 3rd 2017 during the grand pitch and prize day at UC Berkeley in California. ”This is phenomenal in the life of the inter-university HESN collaboration that has been ongoing for the last 4 years” noted Deborah Naatujuna, RAN Engagement Manager.  Two innovative projects at Makerere University School of Public Health ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) won in the 1st place and these include; PedalTap- and the Pre -eclampsia project

This year, the Big Ideas contest received 326 applications, representing over 1,000 graduate and undergraduate students from 16 different universities. Of these 37 Teams representing over 140 students from Makerere University submitted applications, 6 Teams from Makerere University were selected to move to Round 2.

Additionally, what is very unique about this year’s participation is that , the Preeclampsia project is led by a Duke graduate student who partnered with two undergraduate students from Makerere University (Bio Medical Engineering students) through a joint Duke-Mak biomedical program. The Duke student was in Berkeley to participate in Grand Prize Pitch Day May 3, 2017 and her Makerere colleagues participated remotely (from Uganda via Skype).

Grace Nakibala, Team Leader of the Pedal Tap Innovation Team attended the Awards Ceremony at UC Berkeley’s Blum Centerand  shared her PedalTap Innovation story with the rest of the students and guests at the event with efforts to further connect with more partners. The Blum Center fully sponsored her accommodation while at UC Berkeley. While on this journey, Gracealso proceeded to Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for the product review segment of the Pedal Tap.

All Big Ideas teams that advanced to the final round of the competition were invited to participate in the Awards Celebration Poster Session also held on May 3, 2017 at UC Berkeley. This event provided teams with an opportunity to garner more support for their innovations, and share their projects with the larger Big Ideas community. Teams from outside Berkeley who could not attend the Awards Ceremonywere encouraged to develop an informational poster which was displayed at the event.

This year’s contest categories included;

The contest has been a great initiative challenging students to step outside of their traditional university-based academic work, take a risk, and use their education, passion, and skills to work on community challenges. We recognize the enormous contribution of networks and partnerships, this is one of the successful collaborations across HESN universities that has encouraged, supported and recognized students from all disciplines to innovate realizing that this is a critical pillar in tackling the complexities of development challenges.When students engage in immersive research and innovation, it can be one of the most transformative and fruitful adventures and it has a positive impact on their careers.

RAN lab continues to seek and share opportunities such as these and to support interested innovators and entrepreneurs to tap into these opportunities so as to launch their ideas to the market.

Below is the summary of the Makerere University Winning Teams;

S/N Category Place Award Project Name and Innovator Details Brief Project Description
1 Financial Inclusion 3rd 5000 HingiCredit, JarvinMutatiina Farmers in Uganda are often denied credit by financial institutions because there are inadequate and ineffective credit risk assessment mechanisms that address the agricultural related risks (e.g. Climate change, price fluctuation). HingiCredit provides a solution to this i.e. using artificial intelligence and customized criteria for profiling farmer specific risk.
2 Food Systems 3rd 4000 Roach Protein, Kamulegeya Grace B According to our preliminary laboratory work, Cockroach protein has been measured to be around 63% on a dry matter basis compared to Silverfish at 65%the fastest growing species of silver fish matures between 16-25 months (Manyala&Ojouk, 2007) as compared to cockroaches that take 2-5 months to mature.
3 Global Health 1st 10000 Point-of-Care Early Diagnostic Test for Preeclampsia,Denali Dahl (Duke University –, Zoe Sekyonda (Makerere U –, Brian Matovu (Makerere U – The goal of this project is to develop a safe, inexpensive, and reliable self-diagnostic tool for the early detection of preeclampsia that can be accessible to pregnant women in low-resource settings, thereby reducing the detrimental health impacts of undiagnosed preeclampsia and eclampsia.
4 Global Health 3rd 5000 mDex- Your Smart Sickle cell Diagnostic tool (Also receiving capacity building from RAN), Rachel OlemaAitaru, A smartphone based, low cost, reusable, near instant point of care diagnostic tool aimed at increasing access to Sickle cell Diagnostic services in low resourced areas.
5 Global Health Honorable Mention 2000 The First Aid Post-Partum Haemorrhage Belt, Beryl NgabiranoArinda Team Medzyn’s first aid PPH device will stem the bleeding of a hemorrhaging mother and preserve her life during referrals or transportation to the health facility. The frugal innovation in its simplistic, effective and affordable nature allows easy adoption especially in low resource scenarios.
6 Scaling Up 1st 8000 PedalTap- A Retrofittable, Affordable Hands Free Foot Operated Water Dispensing System, Molly MbaziiraNannyonjo PedalTap; a retrofit able, affordable hands free foot operated water dispensing system that can be connected to any tap system anywhere. Designed to reduce the growth and frequency of potent and infectious diseases spread like colds, flu, Ebola on existing taps at water points in public spaces.