By Gabriel-Eddie Njoroge
The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) recently held their annual innovation showcase, the 2019 ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW), on May 9th in Nairobi, Kenya.
The show is for individuals and organizations taking physical products to market that will have a social impact, either to sell the product directly to customers or employ a service-model to drive accessibility. This, in turn, leads to the applicants receiving financing and technical support for their products and access to industry networks to assist in taking their product to market.
From eight finalists from across the African continent who vied for a share of US$ 30,000 in seed grants and technical support to help bring their design innovations to market, three entrepreneurs were selected as winners for the showcase. Among those three, two were from Ghana and one from Kenya.
The prizes were tickets each winner would receive, for the ISHOW Boot-camp in New York in October 2019, where they will meet six other regional winners of competitions held in Bengaluru, India on April 4th, and Washington, D.C. to be held on June 13th. 160 applications were received this year by ASME for ISHOW.
To win, the finalists endured a whole day of rigorous judging as they presented the engineering design attributes of their prototypes and outlined their plans for manufacturing, marketing and financing.
The 2019 regional prize-winning designs all tackled the challenge of sustainable food supply. The team from Kenya, Savanna Circuit Tech, came from Kapenguria and they presented came up with the idea called “MaziwaPlus Pre-Chiller”, which is a mobile solar-powered chilling in-transit system that can be mounted on motorbikes, offering quality control, traceability, and maximized profits for dairy producers and cooperatives. The solution was developed in response to milk post-harvest losses due to transportation over great distances in rural Kenya.
The panel of judges included a group of successful entrepreneurs, academics and founders of venture-funded startup companies including Gearbox, Villgrokenya, Kenyatta University, Toyota Kenya and GlobalX Innovation Labs. The panel was most impressed by the winners’ design innovations and their abilities to scale their products to market.
“We are proud to offer a forum for engineering problem-solving that truly improves lives,” said ASME Executive Director and CEO Tom Costabile. “We are continually impressed by the creative talent of ASME ISHOW participants and their passion for helping underserved communities around the world.”
Also receiving special recognition alongside their Kenyan counterparts was Solar Freeze from Machakos, Kenya who received an in-kind prize of 20 hours of design support for its portable solar-powered cold storage innovation which strives to alleviate the significant challenge of post-harvest food loss for farmers of perishable agricultural produce in Kenya.
“ASME congratulates and thanks all ISHOW winners and finalists for serving as catalysts of progress and social good,” Costabile said. “Through their determination to innovate and disrupt the status quo, they are helping to improve the quality of life for people in need and inspiring others to think about what’s possible.”
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