With a total of 99 entires received by the closing date (7th of November 2016) across all of sub-Saharan Africa, competition was way tougher than in previous years of the regional Ericsson Innovation Awards.
‘The Future of Food’ was the theme for this year’s awards and says Tumi Chamayou, head of strategy, marketing and communications it was chosen because globally there’s a massive rural to urban migration, which means population sizes are increasing and driving the importance of utilising scarce resources in the most efficient way.
“We felt, as Africa is the breadbasket of the world, it’s somewhere we can develop some of these solutions and then transmit them elsewhere in the world,” Chamayou says.
“The reason we chose the winner and recipient of the $10 000 prize as Kenya’s Illuminium Greenhouses is that they showcased an innovative solution that wasn’t only broadly focused and scalable, but also sustainable. They took their solution and broke it up into different elements to ensure they were covering both the energy component (with their greenhouses) and utilising water in the most efficient way.
“We also liked that they used sensor technology to monitor the humidity, water consumption, light and more. And they then linked this up to farmers’ cellphones and transmitted/stored the data in the cloud. We felt that this solution is something that could be applicable not only in Kenya or Africa, but across the world,” she explains.
The prizewinner isn’t only rewarded with a $10 000 cash prize, but is also given access to mentorship and additional support from Ericsson.
“We would like to incorporate them and incubate them – not just in our role as Ericsson, but also as the gatekeeper to a broader ecosystem. And to this end, we are already in discussions with Airtel in Kenya to find a way of doing this as a joint initiative between the operator and ourselves,” she says.
“The Innovation Awards has been a fantastic journey this far and we enjoy being part of this with the community. We hope that they will also continue engaging and staying connected as we turn expectations in sensations,” she concludes.