Nominations for the Innovation Prize for Africa

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VaughanWright1The African Innovation Foundation (AIF) has announced the top 10 nominees for its landmark programme, the Innovation Prize for Africa (IPA).

Premium Times reports that now celebrating its fifth year under the theme “Made in Africa”, IPA is the premier innovation initiative on the African continent, offering a prize of $150 000 and incentives to spur growth and prosperity in Africa through home-grown solutions.

“In the past five years, I’ve seen innovation grow from a mere buzzword to a sturdy path for African growth in multi-disciplinary industries across the continent. As Africans, we have the talent, potential and clout to solve our own problems with ingenuity too, and IPA is testimony of this,” said Pauline Mujawamariya Koelbl, IPA director.

African ingenuity this year showcases new breakthroughs in malaria and other public health burdens, smart solutions for farmers and dynamic energy initiatives.

The nominations include: Dr Eddy Agbo, Nigeria – for a urine test for malaria – a rapid non-blood diagnostic medical device that can diagnose malaria in less than 25 minutes. UMT uses a dip-stick with accurate results in just 25 minutes. The technology detects malaria parasite proteins in the patient’s urine with fever due to malaria. The UMT is simple and affordable, and a potential game changer in managing malaria across Africa. Agbo is a molecular bio-technologist from Nigeria, and chair/CEO of Fyodor Biotechnologies, promoters of UMT.

Valentin Agon, Benin – for Api-Palu – an anti-malaria drug treatment developed out of natural plant extract. It is significantly cheaper than available anti-malarial drugs, and has great inhibitory effects on 3D7 strains of plasmodium falciparum the causative agent of malaria. Api-Palu manifests as a fast rate of malaria parasite clearance from the blood following short term treatment, with relatively lower doses. It is available in tablets, capsules or syrup. The drug has been approved in Benin, Burkina Faso, Tchad, and Central Africa Republic because of its therapeutic and non-toxic effects. Agon specialises in alternative medicine; he has received a doctorate for his research in this field.

Dr Imogen Wright, South Africa – for Exatype – a software solution that enables healthcare workers to determine HIV positive patients’ responsiveness to ARV drug treatment. Exatype processes the highly complex data produced by advanced “next-generation” DNA sequencing of the HIV DNA in a patient’s blood. Through a simple report, it detects drugs that are resistant to the patient, then highlights the need to avoid these to ensure successful treatment. Exatype has the potential to contribute towards effectively managing HIV/Aids in Africa, and also holds promise in helping detect drug resistance for other disease burdens such as Tuberculosis (TB) and malaria. Wright holds a first-class degree in physics and computer science from Rhodes University, a masters in theoretical physics from Canada’s Perimeter Institute and a PhD from the University of the Western Cape.

Dr Kit Vaughan, South Africa – for Acesco – an imaging technology, capable of performing full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound at the same time, dramatically improving breast cancer detection. Aceso is a single device that can acquire dual-modality images – full-field digital mammography and automated breast ultrasound – at the same time. This world first system is protected by international patents and has been successfully tested in two separate clinical trials with 120 women. Vaughan is the CEO of CapeRay Medical and has a post-doctoral fellowship in orthopaedic engineering from Oxford University, was a professor at the University of Virginia, and was the Hyman Goldberg chair in biomedical engineering at the University of Cape Town.

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