In August 2018, NIRDA partnered with the Toyota Mobility Foundation, the Rwanda Information Society Authority (RISA), FabLab, and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) to host the “Innovating Mobility Ideathon.” The event was facilitated by Impact Hub Kigali and took place from August 29th to September 3rd. The ideathon provided a space for participants were given a space to identify unique, innovative & more efficient mobility solutions in order to ease transport in Rwanda using technology. Fifteen teams participated in a mentorship program, developing their mobility innovations, which were pitched on the final day of the ideathon. Désiré Nzengou, NIRDA’s Industrial Technology Advisor, participated in the event as a mentor and talked about NIRDA’s Stem Lab Box and J-STEM – two key elements of one of NIRDA’s three flagship programs, Applied R&D.: “To fulfill our mission we need to build a complete ecosystem for industrial products development & capacity building.”
Field research is crucial to developing effective and sustainable solutions to real-life challenges, so the second and third days of the event began with field visits to Nyabugogo and Kimironko markets, respectively, in order to give participants a chance to immerse themselves in the everyday experiences of the people for whom they were developing solutions. On Day 4, before working on their solutions, participants received some tips and tricks from key experts, such as NIRDA’s Monique Ekisa.
On the final day, the teams pitched their solutions and five teams (who pitched prototypes addressing agriculture, healthcare, and transportation of goods) advanced to the next round. NIRDA is proud to have been a part of creating a space for young innovators and makers to develop real solutions to real-time problems.