Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA) - 2012

Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Switzerland based African Innovation Foundation (AIF) has announced the first 2012 Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA). This annual prize honours and encourages innovative achievements that contribute toward developing new products, increasing efficiency or saving cost in Africa. 'Innovation Prize for Africa' is an annual event and will be carried over during 5-year period, targeting innovators / entrepreneurs in various thematic areas, to be determined by the IPA Technical Advisory committee each year.

The prize is expected to promote among young African men and women the pursuit of science, technology and engineering careers and business applications. IPA acknowledges and encourages innovators and entrepreneurs in their endeavours, since they are one group of stakeholders that have not been considered under Africa's development cooperation agenda.

Prize Amount -

The first prize will be USD 100,000 for the selected best innovators / entrepreneurs, and the second Prize will be USD 50,000 for the second selected innovators/entrepreneurs. The 2012 IPA will consist of two awards given to the two selected innovators / entrepreneurs.

The 'Innovation Prize for Africa' aims are to:

1. Create platform for identification of innovative concepts and projects submitted by applicants that could be supported by IPA;

2. Promote innovation across Africa in key sectors of interest through the competition;

3. Promote science, technology and engineering as rewarding, exciting and noble career options among the youth in Africa by profiling successful applicants; and

4. Encourage entrepreneurs, innovators, funding bodies and business development service providers to exchange ideas and explore innovative business opportunities.

In addition, the 'Innovation Prize for Africa' is expected to yield the following outcomes:

1. Increased commercialization of research and development (R&D) outputs in Africa.

2. Increased development of start-up, adoption of new and emerging technologies and accelerate growth of an innovative and dynamic private sector;

3. Increased economic activity and development that results in long term sustainability.

Deadline -

The deadline for 'Innovation Prize for Africa' 2012 Applications is Friday, 30th September 2011 at 24:00 GMT.

Thematic Areas of 'Innovation Prize for Africa'–

1. Green Technology

Green Technology requires the application of environmental science and green chemistry to conserve the natural environment and resources to mitigate the negative impacts for human beings. This award recognizes technological breakthroughs in clean/green technologies by individuals who have developed and/or implemented proven innovative strategies to mitigate or abate environmental pollution/pollutants.

Innovations / inventions that are still at laboratory results, in testing stage or proof of concept will not be considered as their eventual social impact is unknown. Examples could be as follows:

Water Purification & Sewerage Treatment – where technologies resolve dirt/germ/pollution-free for the purification of water.

1. Waste Management – such as the purification, consumption, disposal and treatment of solid waste.

2. Renewable Energy where technologies support the use of natural objects considered to be renewable (wood, sun, wind etc)

3. Energy Conservation such as the development of devices that require smaller amounts of energy to reduce consumption of electricity.

2. Health & Food Security

Addressing Africa's health and food security challenge requires renewed emphasis on technological innovation. This award recognizes innovations in areas of responding effectively to health challenges and/or food security issues (including agriculture). The innovative projects can be in areas of development of new tools (e.g. R&D), or access and delivery of services effectively. The projects should focus on how to make a difference in lives of the most vulnerable and unfortunate segment of the population in support of their livelihoods. Examples include:

Potential for new and existing technologies that can boost farm productivity, particularly focusing on the productive potential of small-holder farmers. Such technologies could focus on enhancing plant breeding, crop protection and crop nutrition.

Advanced research and development of technologies and products for preventative health-care. This includes research work undertaken by Africans on traditional medicine.

3. Information & Communication Technologies (ICTs)

Increasingly various forms of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) applications are being used extensively for social and economic development. Consequently, ICT applications can support all aspects of sustainable development, in public administration, business/finance, education and training, health, employment, environment, agriculture and science. This award recognizes innovative applications that have demonstrated their potential in addressing key development challenges in society (e.g in communities) or the economy, including:

1. Software (application development, software design, designing software, software application development, enterprise application development, or platform development) and may include new development, or any other activities that result in software products for addressing a key development challenge.

2. Mobile Technologies/Wireless that demonstrates how poor people can use devices for social and economic benefits with the possibility to spawn micro-enterprises and offer employment.

3. Local Language Software known as "localisation" requires definition and implementation of standards. These standards include character set encoding, keyboard (and keypad) layout, collation/sorting sequence, locale and ICT terminology. In addition to definition of standards, applications also need to be developed for local language computing to support access and generation of local language content.

Conditions governing the Awards -

1. ECA and AIF have the right to reproduce and transmit in any media, for non-commercial purposes, information about the work that has been selected.

2. ECA and AIF might also contact those who have not been selected for networking purpose or other potential collaboration opportunities.

3. ECA and AIF have the right to cancel the IPA at any time, when the selected applicants are found ineligible or don't fulfil the criteria laid down for the Prize.

4. The decision of the IPA Technical Advisory Committee shall be final.

5. IPA Technical Advisory Committee members and members of the sponsoring institutions shall not be eligible to submit an entry.

6. Applicants are allowed to submit only one application.

Criteria for entries -

Applicants are required to submit a full description of the project under each category entered. In addition, a duly completed application form should accompany all entries. The project description should clearly illustrate the social outcome and impact with regards to African development and the thematic areas chosen, and in line with the aforementioned assessment and selection criteria.

Application forms and description of the project should be in English or French. Though the projects/initiatives can be conducted in any language including local languages, the submissions should be translated into English or French.

Entries that do not address projects in Africa and are undertaken by non-local African citizen are not eligible.

A well-though application should cover the following aspects:

1. The extent to which the proposed innovation clearly improves the existing practice

2. The socio-economic impacts of the proposed innovation

3. The technological or scientific impacts of the innovation of the field and beyond

4. The launch/introduction of the proposed innovation on the market

5. The (IP) protection of the proposed innovation – and geographic coverage of such protection (if any)

6. The performance of the proposed innovation on the market, society, in terms of cost, benefits, sales, efficiency, etc.

7. Possible venture-capital funding received on the proposed innovation (if any)

8. The novelty of the innovation: How innovative is the project?

9. The scalability of the proposed project

10. The primary users and beneficial of the project outputs: Who is this innovation for?

Assessment of the Projects -

1. IPA Technical Advisory Committee will assess the applications primarily on five criteria:

2. Does the innovation go beyond straight ideas or course of action in its field?

3. Does it go beyond minor existing step up?

4. Will it have an extensive bang on next generation technology in its field and beyond?

5. Is it really a significant social outcome of research outputs?

6. Can the proposed innovative project be scaled up and what would be its broader impact on the lives of the most vulnerable and least fortunate segment of the population.

7. Although endorsement or letter of support is not required, we strongly recommend that applicants attach a letter of support/endorsement from someone (or authority) with knowledge of their project. This will serve as a testimony of how important the project is in addressing development issues faced by Africans.

8. Winners will be chosen by an independent panel of IPA Technical Advisory Committee members and will be featured in several UN reports on STI from May 2012. (This date is subject to change). Winners will be those whose contribution has appreciably met IPA objectives.

9. The selection will be followed by an official notification from the ECA and AIF to the winners. The winning applicants will be disseminated internationally and honoured early February, during the African Heads of State Summit.

Important Note –

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How and Where to Apply?



Download Link for the application –



Applicants can download the application form at above links and after completion, email form to: [Maximum size allowed is 10 MB] along with supporting documents [Please note that the file size needs to be smaller than 8MB]. If you have a big file you need to split it in to smaller sizes.

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