Innovation Prize for Africa.

What do an environmentally-friendly minicab, a box filled with science and electronics, and a fire alert detector have in common?  They are all entries by South Africans for the coveted Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) award this year, with the winning concept taking away US $100 000! Since its inaugural launch in 2011, IPA has gathered great momentum and is now recognized as a leader of the innovation frontier in Africa by rewarding innovators for their home-grown, market-led innovations that contribute to Africa’s growth, development and prosperity.

This year, AIF received 925 applications from 41 countries for its prestigious IPA awards, surpassing the previous year’s entry record of 903. Out of the 10 finalists, 4 are South African, a very proud moment indeed.

David Gluckman, Lumkani fire detection. 

An off-the-shelf fire detection device and alert service that uses radio frequency (RF) transmission technology suitable for informal dwellings. A much needed technology not only in South Africa but across the continent. What makes this device unique is that it not only alerts the family in the dwelling, but also the neighbours in a 60 meter radius, since these fires often happen in high density areas.

Johann Pierre Kok, Scientific engineering educational box (Seebox).

‘Seebox’ is an educational product that allows children to enjoy a practical and experimental way of learning the science of measuring almost anything electronic or scientific. ‘Seebox’ also offers short videos explaining what is being measured.

Lesley Erica Scott, Smartspot TBcheck.  

Smartspot’s flagship product, TBcheck, examines the accuracy of machines used to detect TB diagnosis. It is designed to assess whether these machines are functioning optimally. Unlike other products, TBcheck is easy and safe to use and can be delivered to laboratories safely and economically.

Neil Du Preez, Mellowcabs. 

This is a suite of technologies that includes recovering the kinetic energy that is typically lost in the process of braking a car, converting it into electricity and storing it. Other associated innovations include hydrogen fuelled Mellowcabs, adaptable, renewable body shells and an app to book cab rides that can be paid for with cash or credit. Its user-friendly services include tracking the cab’s location, wifi access and mobile charging during the ride. The minicab service fills the gap for commuters who need organized, safe and affordable micro transport within a three mile radius.

Three winners will be announced at a ceremony to be held in Skhirat, Morocco on 13 May 2015. The cash prize of US$150 000 is shared between the winners, with the most outstanding innovation receiving US$100 000, and two prizes of US$25 000 allotted for innovation with the highest social impact and best business potential respectively.