Innovation Fund winners unveiled

The Botswana Innovation Hub has again announced the recipients of the Botswana Innovation Fund Second Call for proposals. A total of 324 applications were recorded in the second call for proposals. Following a vigorous adjudication process by a select group of business leaders who offer their time and expertise to score submissions, five projects were selected to receive funding. The said recipients of the awards are as follows:

ElGenuin Engineering Technology which is a technology solution for monitoring and alert initiatives that uses advanced stability monitoring and alert technologies at a mining site. It will monitor the slightest seismic disturbance, ground motion and vibrations on areas developing instability. In addition, it will give on-site alerts and insights on critical stability and impending geohazards. The technology allows monitoring movement of miners and equipment on the mining site with location.

The second winner of the day was Bayon Holdings whose pollution free power generator is a hybrid solution generating electricity for domestic consumption. It consists of different battery charging system not relying on combustion of fossil fuel. “Therefore, its clean technology power generation solution,” said the judges.

Mmoloki Makoba from BIUST was the other awardee. The technology from this start-up is a small scale integrated gasification power plant using Botswana coal in a more economic and environmentally friendly manner. It is therefore less harmful process than the conventional power generation process. The plant targets to produce electricity for homes and businesses in areas without access to the national grid. 

An Environmentally friendly (Green) Technology initiative that extracts copper and nickel from tailings, concentrate and mate and turn them into higher value commercial products such as copper and nickel nonoparticles is the innovation from Mmilili Mapolole from BITRI. “This is a robust and efficient hydrometallurgical method that uses a lixiviant to selectively and sequentially leach the nickel first and copper lastly. Therefore the technology will resuscitate the copper and nickel mining in Botswana from operational mines and mine reclamations, abandoned mines projects since it has relatively low operational costs. In addition, this technology is applicable to other metals such as Platinum Group Metals (PGM).

Last but not least in the list of awardees was another entrant from BIUST, Casper Nyamukondiwa. The client establishes a bug-bio-factory that produces locally reared parasitoid cocoons for biological control of agricultural pests. The aim is to provide a downloadable software application for spacio-temporal forecasting of major insect pest outbreaks (BotsBugApp). This will sustainably improve production efficiency, yields, household nutrition, reduce cost of production and improve food security, said the adjudicators in their comment.

In line with the BIH mandate, the second call for proposals sought initiatives solutions in the sector of mining technologies, clean technologies, biotechnologies, knowledge intensive business services and indigenous knowledge systems. “The recipients are funded up to $200 000.00 per project that is spent on eligible costs only.  The funded projects are closely monitored, and grants are withdrawn on project milestone basis,” said those responsible for the funding initiatives. 

Alan Boshwaen, the BIH CEO said: “We took a deliberate decision to open the call to a broader pool of applicants including companies that are not affiliated with BIH. We are happy to receive an increased number of applications, 324 in total, indicating a significant level of interest and effort to innovate by Batswana. The funded projects are expected to scale up by accessing other funding instruments such as commercial banks and development funding institutions.”

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