UNDP Accelerator Lab Ghana announces 22 winners of its COVID-19 Innovation Challenge

The Accelerator Lab (AccLab) of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Ghana announces 22 winners of its COVID-19 Innovation Challenge dubbed “Creating the “New Normal” and Building the Recovery”. The Challenge has created a nationwide platform for innovators, entrepreneurs, local authorities and communities to submit innovative solutions that help people to adjust to the “new-normal” under COVID-19, and support Ghana’s recovery from the pandemic.

The winners will receive mentorships and a total grant of Ghc185,000 (USD32000) to scale up their innovations.

“Congratulations to all the winners. Your innovative solutions are a testament to the wealth of creativity and home-grown solutions available across Ghana. UNDP and our partners will continue to support emerging entrepreneurs and innovators as we step up our efforts to recover from the impact of COVID-19 by building back stronger and smarter. Our support to innovation is a critical component of our collective efforts to contain the spread of the virus and its impact on human development.”

Angela Lusigi, Resident Representative of UNDP in Ghana.

The winning innovations include:

  • Efuom Ghana: a digital platform that enables smallholder farmers to reach bulk buyers easily without physical interaction.
  • Computer-Aided Detection “4” COVID-19 (CAD4COVID): an artificial intelligence (AI) software tool deployed in health facilities across Ghana to increase COVID-19 testing capacity and patients’ throughput. 
  • IXAM: ensuring inclusive learning for people with disabilities during the pandemic.
  • Suma Deliveries App: facilitating delivery services by connecting senders to dispatch riders via a mobile app and text messages.
  • Auto Tap: a low cost all-inclusive automatic hand washing tap.
  • Extending Social Insurance to Informal Sector Workers through Circular Economy: this is adopting a digital system of waste collection from subscribed individuals, households, facility owners and waste pickers through text messages/USSD for recycling and composting.
  • Tendo: an online selling platform, which reduces physical contact.
  • Ponaa Briquettes: transforming agricultural waste such as rice husks into smokeless charcoal briquettes as an alternative to the conventional charcoal and firewood for cooking and heating.
  • Deafcantalk: facilitating access to information on COVID-19 for the deaf.
Gender and Demographic Distribution of Applications

The challenge received 198 applications from all the 16 regions of Ghana, out of which 44 innovations were shortlisted, and 10 winners and 12 runners-up emerged. The selected innovations are in the areas of health-tech and Al, sanitation and waste management, education and social welfare, medical and sanitary devices, and support for vulnerable groups. Of the 22 winning innovations, more than half are already in production. The full breakdown of applications and winners is available on the Innovation Challenge website.

All the 198 innovations submitted to the COVID-19 Innovation Challenge will form part of the AccLab’s “solutions map” of Ghanaian innovations. This will contribute to a repository of knowledge about grassroots innovations aimed at tackling various development challenges, which will be for the benefit of UNDP’s Global Accelerator Lab network, other agencies, policymakers and the public.

The AccLab has also developed a support portal to continuously engage and work with winning innovators to help in shaping and increasing the reach of their solutions.

Sector and Regional Distribution of Winners

The Innovation Challenge was designed to be inclusive, by encouraging participation of all innovators, including those who often fall beneath the radar of competitions, due to technological barriers, lack of confidence, lack of experience or limited social-media presence. The Accelerator Lab made available a variety of easily accessible and basic communication channels, including by phone and dedicated WhatsApp and website channels to support applicants.  Local innovation networks, hubs and community contacts were leveraged to assist applicants to submit their innovations and participate in pitching sessions.

While technology-driven solutions to addressing this pandemic are critically important, this Challenge went beyond technology, to showcase social innovations which can support vulnerable groups, including persons with disabilities.

The COVID-19 Innovation Challenge is one of the Ghana UNDP AccLab’s efforts to tap into grassroots innovations and showcase the ingenuity of Ghanaians during the pandemic.