25 January 2016

Uganda: Makerere's Ran Project Moves to Aid Innovators

Clever Tugume is a fourth-year Mechanical Engineering student at Makerere University. For a year now, he has been wrestling with the idea of producing an efficient and smart car wash system.

"Most car wash systems waste water, yet I was thinking of a way of re-using the water, to save on costs and environmental effects of dumping water, after the vehicles are washed," Tugume explained last April.

Together with friends, Tugume developed a cardboard prototype of the car wash system for his class project, which he displayed at the university's open day last October.

"We are now looking for funds to see if we can turn it into a viable project," he said in October.

Well, Tugume's dreams are a click away. Makerere University's school of Public Health, through its ResilientAfrica Network (Ran) has set aside funds to help innovators like Tugume reach their objectives.

According to Ran's spokesperson Harriet Adong, students like Tugume can access up to $3,000 (Shs 10.3m) in funds to develop their ideas further.

"This is a new fund that we are looking to use to support innovative students at Makerere," she says.

Ran has been running an online campaign for bids from students for a month now. This campaign, which closes at midnight today, will target students carrying out research in agriculture, health, water, entrepreneurship, gender-based violence and livelihood diversification.

"Dubbed the Youth Spark Innovation Grants (YSiG), it seeks to support innovative ideas, which have the potential to strengthen the resilience of communities." [If you are successful,] you stand a chance to win a seed grant that will push your project to the next level," Adong explained.

However, she added that the winning students must be from Makerere University. Students from other universities would have to partner with an active student at Makerere to succeed. The students are advised to download application bids at www.grants.ranlab.org and www.ranlab.org before 11:59pm.

The YSiG is the latest in a series of programmes set aside to support innovators. The most prominent of these is the Presidential Initiative on Science and Technology, which is responsible for innovations in food science at Makerere as well as the Kiira EV car.

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