Fatou Juka Darboe, a Gambian mechanical and electronics engineer is shortlisted for the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2021!
The Africa Prize, run every year by the UK’s Royal Academy of Engineering, awards crucial commercialisation support to ambitious African innovators who are transforming their communities through scalable engineering solutions. 2021 shortlist represents nine countries including, for the first time, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, Ethiopia and the Gambia. Six of the 16-strong shortlist are female innovators.
Fatou innovated a Make3D Medical which uses 3D printing to develop and manufacture cost-effective and customised orthopaedic, medical and assistive equipment for medical institutions and their patients.
“The practice of surgery in resource-limited settings is particularly challenging. We have identified areas where our devices can be used as an alternative to surgery, offering a huge cost saving to patients” said Fatou Juka Darboe.
The programme has a track record of identifying engineering entrepreneurs with significant potential, many of whom have gone on to achieve greater commercial success and social impact.
The shortlisted candidates are being supported with a unique package to help them accelerate their businesses. The benefits of selection include comprehensive and tailored business training, bespoke mentoring, media and communication training, funding and access to the Academy’s network of high profile, experienced engineers and business experts based in the UK and across Africa, as well as access to the alumni network after the programme concludes. This year marks the first fully digital programme, providing intensive expert guidance and community support through a mixture of an online group and one-on-one sessions.
Following this period of support, four finalists will be selected and invited to pitch their improved innovation and business plan to the judges and a live audience. A winner will be selected to receive £25,000, and three runners up will receive £10,000 each.
Emma Wade Smith OBE, Her Majesty’s Trade Commissioner for Africa at the UK Department for International Trade said: “It makes me very proud to be part of this initiative that demonstrates so clearly and practically the power of partnerships between Africa and the UK. The range of innovations and innovators in this year’s shortlist offer an insight into Africa’s extraordinary diversity and talent; and illustrate the importance we all place on nurturing and supporting Africa’s self-starters to create and scale sustainable and inclusive products and services that will help us rebuild our economies to be greener, cleaner and more resilient.
“The Africa Prize helps to accelerate entrepreneurial capacity and ecosystems. I am excited to follow the progress of this year’s cohort, and am certain we will see many of these inventions go on to create and sustain jobs and benefit our societies, as so many of the previous participants in the Africa Prize have done.”
Alumni of the Prize are projected to impact over three million lives in the next five years and have already created over 1500 jobs and raised more than $14 million in grants and equity.
Africa Prize alumni have also played an important role in supporting the continent’s COVID-19 pandemic response, with the programme’s training and additional Academy funding helping them pivot their businesses and address community needs. Together, they reached over 220,000 people with innovations including affordable hand sanitizer, remote education, 3D-printed PPE, access to finance for smallholder farmers and a track and trace platform allowing worshippers to attend religious services.
The Academy also runs other complementary innovation programmes in Africa. The Africa Innovation Fellowship, in partnership with WomEng, aims to increase female participation in engineering innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent, and the Leaders in Innovation Fellowships (LIF) programme, which supports innovators in 16 countries including Egypt, Kenya and South Africa.
About Make3D Medical by Fatou Juka Darboe
Make3D Medical uses 3D printing to develop and manufacture cost-effective and customised orthopaedic, medical and assistive equipment for medical institutions and their patients.
Make3D Medical is the only custom 3D printing medical solution of its kind in The Gambia, using easy to operate technology and medically compliant materials to provide cost-effective and efficient solutions.
Mechanical and electronics engineer Fatou Juka Darboe and her cofounder met in The Gambia two years ago, and their interest in technology and 3D printing brought them together to form Make3D Company Limited, out of which Make3D Medical was born.
About the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation
The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2014, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to developing African innovators and assisting them to maximise their impact. It awards crucial commercialisation support to ambitious African innovators developing scalable engineering solutions to address local challenges, demonstrating the importance of engineering as an enabler of improved quality of life and economic development.
The Africa Prize is generously supported by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, having been supported by The Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund from 2014 to 2020. Further information can be found here: https://www.shellcentenaryscholarshipfund.org/
About the Royal Academy of Engineering
The Royal Academy of Engineering is harnessing the power of engineering to build a sustainable society and an inclusive economy that works for everyone. In collaboration with our Fellows and partners, we’re growing talent and developing skills for the future, driving innovation and building global partnerships, and influencing policy and engaging the public.
Together we’re working to tackle the greatest challenges of our age. Further information can be found here: www.raeng.org.uk