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Royal Academy of Engineering 2021 Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation in Sub- Saharan Africa (£35,000 Prize)

Application Deadline: 14 September 2020 at 4pm GMT+1.

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering,
is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation. It awards crucial
commercialisation support to ambitious African innovators developing scalable engineering solutions to local challenges, demonstrating the importance of engineering as an enabler of improved quality of life and economic development.

An eight-month period of tailored training and mentoring culminates in a showcase event where a winner is selected to receive £25,000 along with three runners-up, who are each awarded £10,000.

The aim of the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is to stimulate, celebrate and reward innovation and  entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa.

Applications are invited from entrepreneurs and engineers in sub-Saharan Africa who have
developed an innovative product or service that
can provide scalable solutions to local challenges, with a particular emphasis on
sustainable social and economic development.

Applicants with engineering related innovations from all disciplines are invited to enter, whether or not the applicant themselves have an engineering background.


To be eligible:

  • Applicants must be individuals or small groups. Individual applicants must be citizens of a country within sub-Saharan Africa*.
  • For teams of two or more, the lead applicant must be a citizen of a country within sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The innovation must be based in a country in sub-Saharan Africa*.
  • Applicants must have an engineering innovation, though are not required to be an
    engineering graduate or student.
  • Applicants must provide a letter of support from a university, research institution
    innovation hub or previous incubator programme. This can be as simple as stating that an individual studied at or was
    involved with that institution.
  • If applicants are not affiliated with any organisation,
    another document proving the status of your organisation or innovation, such as a document of incorporation or patent
    certificate may be used.
    Industrial researchers and establishments are not eligible.
  • The lead applicant must be over the age of 18 by 1 September 2020. There is no
    upper age limit.
  • The applicant’s innovation can be any new product, technology or service, based on research in engineering defined in its broadest sense to encompass a wide range of fields, including: agricultural technology, biotechnology, chemical engineering, civil
    engineering, computer science, design engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, ICT, materials science, mechanical engineering, and medical
  • If you are in any doubt that your area of expertise would be considered engineering, then please contact the Academy to discuss your application.
  • Applicants should have developed, and be in the early stages of commercialising, an
    engineering innovation that:

1. Will bring social and/or environmental benefits to a country/countries in sub-
Saharan Africa
2. Has strong potential to be replicated and scaled up
3. Is accompanied by an ambitious but realistic business plan which has strong
commercial viability


A shortlist of 16 applicants will be selected to receive a seven-month package of mentoring and training. The programme will be structured to give entrepreneurs the skills and knowledge to:

• strengthen and develop their existing business plans;

• successfully communicate their innovations through pitching;

• forge links with potential partners, investors and customers;

• further develop their technology;

• move towards commercialisation or scale up


The training will take various formats but will require a significant time commitment over the seven months. All reasonable costs are covered to attend and participate in these activities.

The training period will run from late 2020 to mid 2021.

This includes:

• Remote group and one-on-one training and mentoring, taking place on a regular basis via
video conference, telephone calls and webinars.

• The potential of a residential training week in Africa and/or the UK*


The shortlist will be asked to submit a full business plan and updates on their business from the first period of training,
on our online system, in May 2021. The Judging Panel will review these and identify four finalists

Final Event

All shortlisted applicants will display their innovations at an exhibition at the final event*
in June/July 2021

The four finalists will pitch in front of a live audience and the Africa Prize judges.

The prizes will be awarded following an assessment by the Judging Panel.

• The winner will receive £25,000

• Three runners-up will receive £10,000 each.


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