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RAN-backed Yiya Project in MIT Solve 2020 Global Challenge Finals

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Yiya (one of the innovative projects supported and incubated at Makerere University-ResilientAfrica Network-RAN) was recently once again selected to the finalist round of MIT Solve 2020 Global Challenges! They were selected for the Yiya AirScience program, their COVID-19 pivot.

Yiya AirScience (currently undergoing a name change from Yiya Robo School) is an interactive STEM learning experience for remote populations that have no access to internet, smartphones, or academic materials, using only simple keypad phones and radios!

Below are some quick statistics of the project’s current impact.

  • They have 5,856 users registered as they begin the third week of lessons. Youths register by dialing the USSD short code *284*19#.
  • They are receiving 10,000 USSD requests/hops per day.
  • They have approximately 2,000 youth tuning in to the radio lessons daily, based on the number of users answering lesson quiz questions in the USSD during the radio broadcast times. To answer a question, students dial *284*19# and choose option 1: I am listening to the radio now. In one of the lessons, 1,057 students answered the tech quiz. This is an incredible engagement for a lesson that runs for 25 minutes on one radio station in Lira District.
  • Click here for a demo of how students interact with the program from registration to answering questions.

Please click the link below to view and vote for the Yiya solution on MIT Solve’s website before the voting closes on Tuesday 29th September 2020 at 2:00pm ET (9:00pm East African Time): 

https://solve.mit.edu/challenges/learning-for-girls-and-women/solutions/31672

The finalist from each Challenge with the most votes will receive a $2,000 Community Award.

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Ugandan STEM Promoter-Yiya in MIT 2018 Solve Challenge Finals

Innovation

Digital Education is the Future and These Startups Are Here for It

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A user in the Computer Laboratory, Main Library, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda

Rarely has the education system been as shaken as in the last 12 months. Years of slow progress towards digitalization and new learning methods have been replaced by mandatory use of long distance communication tools, new testing methods, and a lot of creativity from teachers and parents on how to engage children in learning. With apps and different online tools becoming a part of children’s lives, it is no wonder that the EdTech startup scene has been flourishing.

According to Crunchbase, venture funding for EdTech reached 4.1 billion USD in the first seven months of 2020, which is 1.5 billion USD more than in the same time frame a year before. It is also the highest amount raised in that frame for the past five years. Most of these deals are still for U.S. based companies, with big players like Skillshare and Materclass raising funds in Series D and E, respectively. Some of the biggest deals are also in China, for example Yuanfudao raised a billion USD in Series G and Zuoyebang raised 750 million USD in Series E.

EdTech wins two years in a row

Many emerging markets are still missing the necessary infrastructure and policies working towards keeping children in school though. Due to low income, children are often forced to leave school and work at a very young age. This is why digital education is especially important in these markets. It is often an answer to issues that involve education inaccessibility and high costs, providing an innovative and quality learning environment to children.

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Innovation

How Diversification Helped Switzerland During the Pandemic

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The Swiss flag flies high. Photo credit: Seedstars

It is well known that Switzerland has one of the strongest economies in the world. With the OECD grouping them into the high-income countries and the second highest GDP in the world, even economy newbies know that this small central-European country is synonymous with stability and prosperity.

The business environment is an interesting mix of world-famous companies, top-notch universities and research facilities, SMEs and startups working in a relatively small geographical area. Ranging from medicine, precious metals and gemstones, heavy machinery, to tobacco, chocolate and luxury perfumes and cosmetics, the 310 billion USD exports can compete with countries with more resources and population.

The Swiss economy is based on a highly qualified labour force working in specialized industries, with the main economic activities being pharmaceuticals, machinery, food and financial services. The “land of watches” can boast its high-class motors, generators, turbines and a whole range of other deep tech products. Continuous investments in research and development (about 3 percent of total GDP) has not only diversified the existing industries, but made it one one of the best places to do business.

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Innovation

Ericsson Innovation Awards 2021

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The Low-Cost Medical Ventilator (Bulamu Ventilator), a product of Makerere University and Kiira Motors Corporation on display in the Main Hall, Makerere University, Kampala Uganda on 28th August 2020 during the launch of two innovations in the fight against COVID-19.

As the world becomes increasingly reliant on technology, the digital divide is growing. Economic, geographic, gender and access factors have left vast portions the global population at a severe disadvantage. The causes are many, including lack of infrastructure, resources and the high cost of devices. Your challenge is to identify a digital divide and develop a solution to bridge it.

How to participate

To enter the awards, you must register with a complete entry by August 5, 2021, 13:00 CET (2:00PM EAT).

A ‘complete entry’ means all required questions are answered and you have registered up to four total team members, all of whom are currently enrolled students pursuing a university degree. To qualify, each team member must be pursuing a higher vocational or academic degree (undergraduate, graduate, or doctorate), and graduating on or after the end date of the Semi-finalist period (September 13, 2021).

We strongly encourage you to embrace diversity and inclusiveness by bringing team members from different disciplines, cultures, life experience and skill sets. We’ve found that diverse teams often produce the most inspired ideas.

Entries are allocated into seven regions, depending on where your university is based.

By registering with a complete submission, you will automatically be entered to compete in the regional competition and will be eligible to be considered for the Global Semi-finals.

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