The American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) has announced the regional winners of the 2021 ASME Innovation Showcase (ISHOW), the prestigious international accelerator of hardware-led social innovation. Eight finalist teams of social innovators from Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda presented their design prototypes in a virtual event held June 1-3. Three entrepreneurs emerged as regional winners who will share $30,000(USD) in seed grants and receive technical support to help bring their design innovations to market. They were announced last week in a virtual awards ceremony that featured keynote remarks by Patrick Obonyo of the IKEA Foundation.

The 2021 ASME ISHOW Kenya winners are:

Aqualoo Technologies (Nairobi, Kenya) for its “Concrete Foam Generator”—a device that makes Air Crete, a mixture of cement, water and foam used to create robust building materials that are lightweight, non-toxic, inexpensive, fireproof, insect proof and unharmed by moisture.

MeDevice Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya) for its “AfriVent” solution—a fully featured, lower cost ventilator, pulse oximeter, and other accessory devices with telemetry for remote access, as well as connectivity for data collection capability, to treat respiratory illnesses including COVID-19

Tech Era (Accra, Ghana) for its “Watre.io”—a digital water distribution ecosystem manager that acts as a network orchestrator between users of water and private water distributors in urban areas by using data from its water level tracking sensor and software to ensure customers do not run out of water by prompting them to order water at the appropriate time.

“Social enterprises, now more than ever, need the support of the global impact community,” says Iana Aranda, director of ASME’s Engineering Global Development sector that houses ISHOW. “Social entrepreneurs across the world, including many ISHOW ventures, are on the frontlines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and advancement of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. We are fiercely focused on providing these innovators with accessible platforms for capacity building, expert engagement and co-design of scaling strategies suited for the new normal. Ensuring their success through this global crisis is of paramount importance.”

In addition to the three grand prize winners, the product with the most votes in social media for each regional event is named the “Fan Favorite,’’ and receives $1,000 (USD). The fan favorite prize is made possible and in memory of Byron G. Schieber Jr. M.S., PE, Professor Emeritus QCCNY, and Ruth L. Schieber. The 2021 ISHOW Kenya “Fan Favorite” winner is Solakilimo Solutions (Nairobi, Kenya) for its “Solar-powered Cold Rooms”— providing sustainable, lower cost cold storage for fish, fruit, and vegetable farmers on a pay-as-you-preserve model to help reduce post-harvest losses.

More information on the ISHOW Kenya 2021 finalists can be found on the ASME ISHOW website. A virtual ISHOW for finalists in India was held in May and an event for finalists from the Americas (ISHOW USA) will take place July 13-15.

“We are proud to offer a forum for engineering problem-solving that truly improves lives,” said ASME Executive Director/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.”

The prestigious global hardware accelerator is open to individuals and organizations taking physical products to market that will have a positive social and/or environmental impact and that improve the quality of life around the world. To date, ISHOW has enabled over 160 startups from more than 28 countries to solve critical quality-of-life challenges for people in underserved communities worldwide. ISHOW alumni have developed affordable devices to address issues including clean combustion, crop threshing, fetal health, food waste prevention, grain moisture, health diagnostics, safe drinking water, and many more that address the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

ASME ISHOW annually matches up to 30 carefully selected innovators with curated industry experts to ensure that the proposed hardware solutions are technologically, environmentally, culturally, and financially sustainable. ASME’s panel of judges and experts includes successful entrepreneurs, academics, engineers, designers, investors, and industry representatives from leading organizations in India, Kenya, and the United States. These subject matter experts provide technical and strategic guidance based on ISHOW’s four key pillars: customer/user knowledge, hardware validation, manufacturing optimization, and implementation strategy.

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