The ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) team was pleased to host the 14th Innovation Garage session at the end of the month of September. This Garage hosted two potentially trans-formative innovations in the fields of health and electrical engineering – the Inflatable First Aid Hemorrhage Belt and the Micro-Hydro Electricity Generation project respectively; with a guest presentator from the Improved Sewing Machine Innovation project. The total attendance was 88 multidisciplinary participants.

The Innovation Garage sessions are scheduled on the last Friday of each month at the RAN Innovation Lab and are guided by the Theme “Catalyzing Engineering Solutions”. The garage offers a platform where inventors and creative thinkers pitch their ideas before a multidisciplinary audience. Innovators are given a chance to pitch their ideas and later on engage the audience in deeper feedback discussions on how they can improve or further develop their innovations.

Brief Descriptions about the Innovative Projects shared during the Garage session;

The Inflatable First Aid hemorrhage Belt;

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Beryl Arinda a graduate of Biomedical Engineering at Makerere University’s College of Health Sciences pitched their innovation first. Beryl is part of the Medzyn team comprised of 5 Bio medical engineers, a mentor, and 2 support Medical Doctors. The team proposes to reduce the fatality rates caused by postpartum hemorrhage, which is described as blood loss greater than or equal to 500 ml within 24 hours after childbirth. This condition is one of the leading causes of maternal death in Uganda and most of the developing countries. The Inflatable hemorrhage Belt is founded on the first aid principle of external aortic compression which is an emergency maneuver proposed to reduce blood flow from the uterus during and after child birth and permit time for resuscitation and control of bleeding. The inflatable belt is externally worn and applies pressure to the uterus wall and abdominal aorta and by so doing, reduces blood flow. The innovation has the potential to save many lives, particularly the mothers who travel long distances to access a health facility.

Among the general feedback and comments shared were suggestions to;

  • Look at what other health complications this innovation could address over and above postpartum hemorrhage.
  • One of the doctors argued that it may be difficult for the pressure to effectively have an impact on the blood vessels in the body; probably they should focus on constricting the uterus which will naturally control the blood flow. How long would it take for the patient to attain the proposed results?
  • Does the team have a copyright and is it protected?
  • The cost of $100 was quite high for the envisioned customer. The team was challenged to rethink strategies how to reduce the cost of setup.
  • On the customers’ side, the team was advised to add traditional birth attendants to their list of potential end users.

Micro- Hydro Electricity Generator;

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The second pitch was by Mpeirwe David an employee of Mubende Town Council; the “Micro-Hydro Electricity Generation” project, an innovation born out of curiosity aims to increase potential of locally generated electricity while reducing the stress exerted on the environment through deforestation and degradation of water bodies for the generation of electricity. Mpeirwe proposes that using the laws of gravitational energy, water stored in the domestic tanks at home, hospitals, offices etc. will be pushed into a compression chamber. In the compression chamber, the water is forced to occupy a confined space generating more pressure as it is forced through an exit pipe fitted with turbines which turn kinetic energy and movement into direct current ready for consumption. Part of the electricity is then used to power a house/community using a generator and is also used to pump some of the water back into the reservoir.

Among the general feedback and comments were suggestions to:

  • Look into how one can easily know how much amount of power can be generated by how many liters of water?
  • In physics, the proposed solution in producing zero energy to spare because none is spared when the water is pumped back. The cost of setting up including the technical know-how requires specialized human resource, how feasible is setting this up in the rural areas? What is unique about it given the existence of UMEME

Improved Sewing Machine;

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The guest presentation was made by Paul a student of Makerere University who has improved the technology of the current sewing machine from double to single stitch threads. Paul is a beneficiary of the 9th and 10th innovation garages and his presentation was a show of progress on his innovative project thus far. The machine is now electric as opposed to the previous model or prototype. Some of the suggestions towards improving the Sewing Machine were; improving the external design of the machine, improving the stitching ability and including a self-cutting mechanism to the machine.

This  Garage session which was kick started by RAN’s Communications Manager, Harriet Adong and later moderated by RAN’s Business Development Officer  and Mentor, Brian Ndyaguma with support from the President of the Innovation Garage and RAN’s Innovator, Stephen Ssekanyo started at 4:30 pm EAT. Participants joined in self-introductions while highlighting one or two things each knew about RAN for continuous knowledge sharing. It was exciting to note that majority of the Garage participants if not all ably spoke about RAN and what RAN’s core business is even if it were their first time to physically visit RAN. Brian, facilitated the ice breaker; crossing the river, where participants compete to cross from one end of the RAN compound to another using 2 sheets of flip chart paper (boats). The boats are always covered with as many people as possible and the task is meant to get everyone to cross the river without their feet touching the ground (area off the flip chart paper). The event also had guest attendees, two Pediatricians from Mulago National Referral and Mengo Hospitals, Fundi Bots founder, Solomon King and youth from SmartUp Factory (Plan International Uganda) among others.

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 highlights from previous Innovation Garage sessions, visit the RAN Website: https://www.ranlab.org/monthly-innovation-garage.

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