June 10, 2021

Concrete Foam, a Low-Cost Ventilator and Digital Water Distribution Win ISHOW Kenya

Three teams from Ghana and Kenya developing a concrete foam generator, a low-cost ventilator equipped for remote tele-healthcare and a digital water distribution management system won the 2021 ISHOW Kenya. The American Society of Mechanical Engineers announced the results of its regional Innovation Showcase June 9th in an online event. The winning teams will receive (USD) $30,000 in seed grants and technical support to continue developing their innovations.

The 2021 ASME ISHOW Kenya winners are:

Aqualoo Technologies (Nairobi, Kenya) for its “Concrete Foam Generator.” This device 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.

“They have a market-ready working prototype that offers a more affordable solution to competitors,” says Kamau Gachigi, Executive Director of Gearbox in Nairobi and a judge for ISHOW Kenya. “They also have tenacity and commitment, and that they’ll very much need in order to scale. They have an experienced and dedicated team. And it’s a truly unique solution for the continent that addresses a unique problem, and they’re already scaling to other parts of the continent.”

MeDevice Kenya (Nairobi, Kenya) for its “AfriVent” solution. Afrivent is a lower cost ventilator with accessory devices such as a pulse oximeter and others connected for telemetry to gather data and remotely treat patients with respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

“It’s an honor to see innovations that are driven by women. Female participants in this ASME ISHOW and competition and previous competitions have continued to show this contribution towards innovation in these areas,” says Sylvia Mukasa, Founder and CEO of GlobalX Investments and GlobalX Innovation Labs in Nairobi and ISHOW Kenya judge.

Tech Era (Accra, Ghana) for its “io.” This digital water distribution manager coordinates users of water and private water distributors in urban areas. The device uses data from its water level tracking sensor and software to ensure that customers do not run out of water by prompting them to order at the appropriate time.

Their pilots are demonstrating strong technical validation in the field, they have a great understanding of the market, and that means it’s [well rounded], as I say, I really like ISHOW because it looks at every aspect of the innovator’s journey,” says June Madete, Senior Lecturer in machine design and biomechanics at Kenyatta University in Nairobi, and ISHOW Kenya judge.

A fourth team won the “Fan Favorite,” award of (USD) $1,000 in an online election. The people chose 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.

Social entrepreneurs on the frontlines

“Social enterprises, now more than ever, need the support of the global impact community,” says Iana Aranda, President of Engineering for Change and 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 UN 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.”

160 startups from 28 countries

ISHOW is a global hardware accelerator open to individuals and organizations taking physical products to market. The emphasis is on innovation that will have a positive impact socially, environmentally or both, and that will improve the quality of life around the world.

To date, ISHOW has enabled more than 160 startups from 28 countries to solve critical quality-of-life challenges for people in underserved communities. 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.

Each year ISHOW matches up to 30 innovators with 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 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.

More information on the ISHOW Kenya 2021 finalists can be found on the ASME ISHOW website: thisishardware.org. 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.

This article is based on information from a press release and the online event. 

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