The Botswana Innovation Hub (BIH) on Friday announced the winners of BIF COVID-19 challenge of 2020 following a competitive process in which 395 applications were received in response to a call for proposals for solutions addressing the pandemic and its associated socio-economic effects.
Chief executive officer of BIH, Alan Boshwaen said they have seen an increased interest by local innovators seeking support to develop solutions to some of the country’s most pressing challenges.
Boshwaen added the interest was noticeable in the COVID-19 challenge as many innovators submitted their proposals in response to the pandemic ways to addressing issues arising from the scourge.
“Our observations as BIH are that there is a significant and growing opportunity to leverage technology particularly in the digital space to move our nation forward, creating greater efficiencies in our services as Botswana and greater quality as it relates to the products and services that we produce,” he said.
Boshwaen said a clear lesson from the pandemic is that Botswana needs to enhance its e-commerce platforms, move towards the digitalisation of education and health services. This he added puts an emphasis on the development of ICT infrastructure for the better management of online traffic.
The winners, who were announced at an event held at the Science and Technology Park, include Creative Insights (PTY) Ltd with a remote queuing system.
It is a QFlo App that is aimed at supporting social distancing by enabling end users to book a spot in a queue virtually through Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger and SMS.
The other winner is Spectrum Analytics who developed a Digital Social Welfare System
On the other hand, Doctors E-Consult proposed an online doctor consultation application which will be a patient-doctor consultation room on a mobile device. Another is First-Aid Counselling with the First-Aid Counselling App.
The application is aimed at addressing the mental health issues associated with extreme social distancing and isolation.
Corrugated Minds is also the other winner with a Public Transport Passenger Alert System aimed at digitising public transport systems to eliminate long queues and reduce the spread of COVID-19.
Assistant minister of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology, Ronald Machana Shamukuni pointed out that the chosen proposals should be progressed to attain commercial traction and market access, including generation of new intellectual property.
He further said it’s the intent of government, to empower local innovations and support them to grow and scale into other markets.
BIH opened for submission of proposals for the BIF COVID-19 challenge of 2020 on April 18, 2020 which closed on May 1, 2020.
The proposed budget for the BIF third call for proposals was P2.2 million and each of the recipients will receive funding based on their revised budget as agreed upon with the BIF committee.