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 Years of slow progress towards digitalization and new learning methods have been replaced by mandatory use of long distance communication tools, new testing methods, and a lot of creativity from teachers and parents on how to engage children in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.
UNDP to set up state-of-the-art Innovation Hub at Makerere
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is set to build a state-of-the-art innovation hub at Makerere University that is aimed at skilling students in various sectors with a view to empowering startups and creating jobs.
The Makerere Innovation hub will be established through UNDP’s Timbuktoo initiative, a US$1 billion youth innovation financing facility for Africa which aims to scale 1,000 high growth start-ups, improve 50 million livelihoods and generate US$10 billion in value creation.
UN Resident Representative in Uganda Ms. Elsie Attafuah said the partnership with Makerere is anchored on five strategic areas; fostering innovation ecosystems in public universities, leveraging the role of universities in grassroots development and establishing a regular innovation expo as a platform for youth innovators to network.
Others are; promoting research on resilience, and strengthening gender equality in public institutions.
UNDP is establishing the University Innovation Hub/Pod where ten (10) other African Countries are also beneficiaries. Makerere is well placed to host this innovation pod which will be interdisciplinary in nature bringing together students, academia, and partners from all fields, she said.
She added that the University Innovation hub will provide University Students with: Maker-Spaces that accord service to both engineering as well as creative design projects, with a standard set of equipment; a Design Lab that offers a host of programs in design thinking.
“The hub will support students to apply design principles toward solving any problem they are tackling; Collaborative Working Spaces to enable students create business ideas and host product demos, training events, speaker talks, other community and collaboration building events,” Ms. Attafuah added.
Makerere University Vice Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe welcomed the partnership with UNDP.
“I am delighted that Makerere will finally host an innovation hub to facilitate the transformation from research to commercial projects,” he said.
“The innovation hub will help us incubate the ideas developed by our students to ensure that they form companies that will create jobs for the many students we graduate every year,” he added.
The Makerere Vice Chancellor said the Parish Development Model Policy lab will hopefully rescue the well-intended program from the public naysayers.
Prof. Ezra Suruma, the Makerere University Chancellor, also welcomed the partnership
“When I was in the Office of the Prime Minister, we focused so much on the problem of implementation. As Makerere, we have to focus on making sure the Parish Development Model trickles down to the people at the grassroots to ensure poverty alleviation,” he said.
“As we sign this partnership, I hope this will set the ball rolling for innovative programs for societal transformation in the next 100 years of Makerere University,” he added.
The innovation hub, will be headed by Dr. Cathy Ikiror Mbidde, a Lecturer in the School of Business, College of Business and Management Sciences (CoBAMS).
Digital Health Payment Initiative and Research in Africa RFAs
The Digital Health Payment Initiative and Research in Africa (DHPI-R), a Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded project that is implemented in Makerere University School of Public Health (MakSPH) and Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar (UCAD) Senegal is thrilled to announce an OPEN CALL FOR REQUEST FOR APPLICATIONS. This will foster widespread, sustainable adoption and application of Digital Financial Service innovations within the health sector of low-and-middle-income countries (LMICs) in sub-Saharan Africa.
Focus Research Areas/ Research Themes
DHPI-R is seeking applications for studies that address the evidence gaps listed.
1) Campaign Effectiveness
2) Digital Financial Services’ effects on financial inclusion, safety, and security of payments
3) Health worker performance and retention
4) Payment experience and financial behavior
For any request made in this call, the budget goes as follows;
Large studies:12 months $200,000
Medium studies: 9 months $100,000
Small studies: 6 months $60,000
All Institutions within sub-Saharan Africa
Funding Restrictions and Terms
The award will be a fixed fee agreement, and the total amount of the award will be stated in the award letter. The funding is intended to support the collection, analysis, and dissemination of research. The allocation of program funds will directly correspond to the monetary figures presented in the final Budget and disbursement of funds will be initiated upon the timely receipt of invoices, financial reports, and expected deliverables.
How to Apply
Applications must be submitted in English or in French.
Applications must be submitted through our website: Submit applications here.
Application deadline: 16th SEPT 2022
Award decisions: All applicants will be notified of the outcome of their submission by 30th October 2022.
For more information and application details, see; Call for Request for Applications
Three Innovations Combating COVID-19 in Uganda
How the ResilientAfrica Network is fostering research and innovation while fighting COVID-19
By Eseroghene Oruma, USAID
Research, technology, and innovation are critical tools for international development, particularly for unprecedented challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic. People around the world are still reeling from one of the greatest health challenges we have ever faced. The pandemic impacts all our lives, and exposes the shortcomings in our health systems.
How is USAID helping and supporting our partner countries to combat this disease? Through research, technology, and innovation.
By working with local partners such as higher education institutions, USAID brings positive change in local communities that last well after USAID funding ends. Funding from USAID’s Higher Education Solutions Network (HESN) provided support to cultivate an approach to development that sources ideas on how to address local development challenges from the community itself.
The ResilientAfrica Network (RAN), based at Makerere University in Uganda which was also a USAID development lab through the HESN program from 2012–2022, continues to deploy this locally driven approach in their work today. Local innovators and technologists receive guidance from RAN about how to refine and scale up their ideas. This approach to development has proven effective in creating innovations to combat the pandemic.
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