The tech hubs in the AEIP network were emailed and asked to share any initiatives they are working on to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the tech hubs are organising webinars, hackathon challenges, and online platforms to support startups and innovators to develop solutions to combat the pandemic. Below is an overview of the initiatives shared with the AEIP Service Facility team as of April 16th, 2020:
Zimbabwe COVID-19 Challenge Initiative: The Zimbabwean tech hubs TechVillage and Impact Hub Harare are collaborating with Stimulus innovation Center, and ACT in Africa to jointly hosting idea design challenges around the pandemic every two weeks in Zimbabwe in order to crowd source ideas from local innovators. The first challenge they jointly launched was themed ‘How Might We Improve the Safety and Morale of Health Care Workers?’ The challenge submission for this topic is due April 16th, 2020. Following the review of all submissions received, their next step is to select the most viable solutions and provide them with support to further develop and implement the concept.
Coronavirus Crisis Response Hub: The Liberian tech hub iLiberia is creating a Coronavirus Crisis Response Hub - (physically at iCampus for as long as feasible, but also virtually), through which they plan to support the Liberian government with their expertise in social change, governance and technology. They have been in a variety of conversations with the government over the past 3 weeks, and based on those exchanges, the Coronavirus Crisis Response Hub will do the following:
Support the National Public Health Institute of Liberia and Ministry of health to create open source platforms which would allow them to document and visualise health information related to COVID-19, including real time updates and maps of COVID-19 cases, health security issues and location of test centres
Synthesise data – build on the lessons learned during and after the Ebola crisis to fight COVID-19
- Create an online and Facebook/WhatsApp channel to support young Liberians to develop innovation solutions that support the government in fighting COVID-19
West Africa COVID-19 Platform: Etrilabs, a tech hub in Benin, launched the action platform covid19.etrilabs.com as a response to the pandemic. Right now, the platform targets the 9 West African francophone countries. It disseminates useful information, fights fake news and integrates a map that provides data such as the number of cases, recoveries, and deaths in the target countries. The platform also aims to raise funds through donations to help families or those who have lost their income due to the pandemic.
The Senegalese tech hub, Jokkolabs is working with the Ministry of Health and a multi-stakeholder alliance in Senegal to create awareness and emergency solutions to manage the COVID-19 crisis.
Webinars on COVID-19: The Zambian tech hub BongoHive is working with key experts to organise webinars to support SMEs and startups in Zambia to thrive during the pandemic period. They organised a webinar on April 10th on ‘The Immediate Future of Work: COVID-19 and the Zambian workplace’. They have another webinar on April 21st on ‘COVID-19: Financial Implications and Impact on SME Businesses’. The webinar presentation will give an overview of the financial implications of COVID-19 on SME business and the underlying economic fundamentals driving the depreciation of the Kwacha, as well as provide advice to SMEs and startups on how to effectively position themselves for post-COVID-19.
WeVerify Campaign: The Nigerian tech hub Wennovation Hub has launched a WeVerify Campaign to fight fake rumours and news being shared on COVID-19. The WeVerify Campaign filters content from social media based on specific tags e.g. #Covid19 and verify them via the accredited platforms. It also educates people on the methods to verify news and updates, and directs traffic to a landing page where up to date and credible information is disseminated in real time on COVID-19.
The Nigerian tech hub CcHub, is implementing several initiatives to tackle COVID-19 through its four units: Startup Support Unit, The Design Lab Unit, GovLab/Digital Security Practice Unit, and Re:learn Practice Unit. Below is an overview on the initiatives that each Unit at CcHub is implementing:
Cc Hub’s Startup Support Unit is working on the following:
Call for COVID-19 Related Projects: The Lagos State Science Research And Innovation Council (LASRIC) partnered with CcHub’s Startup Support Unit to support the call for COVID-19 related projects in response to the Coronavirus pandemic. The aim is to provide funding and research & design support to the participants to explore the application of Human-centred Design (HCD) to proffer innovative solutions to flatten the curve of the spread of the deadly virus.
Innovative communication projects on COVID-19: In collaboration with the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), CcHUB is supporting innovative communication projects on COVID-19 based on African languages targeted at the semi-urban and rural population across Africa. The communication projects are expected to help counter disbelief and misinformation, catalyse citizens actions and solidarity as well as combat stigmatization. The collaboration will focus on projects delivering vetted critical information from Africa CDC to Africans in remote areas using innovative and culturally sensitive messaging. The selected teams will be supported with grant funding of up to $5000 for research and design support.
In an effort to #FlattenTheCurve, the Unit is supporting the production of surgical masks by TheAssemblyHub and protective face shields S-Band. Working with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR), these items will be properly sterilized, packaged and used together by our healthcare workers to stay protected as they work to save lives.
Cc Hub’s Design Lab Unit is working on the following:
In collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Medical Research (NIMR) and Lifebank, they created the COVID Testing Management System which is a digital system to support the process of testing suspected COVID-19 cases, from reporting, through triaging, to communicating test results.
They developed the Needs Project aimed at helping individuals gain access to essential products and services during the lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The major objective is to connect individuals to vendors or essential products specifically, food and medical supplies. The core function of the software product is to allow a user to: express need for essential product or service, share needs on social media, and offer to help someone in need
Cc Hub’s Design Lab Unit created the Relief Centers Directory, a digital directory of centers that provide relief support for people in need of essential items like food and medicine as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is aimed at connecting the less privileged people with NGOs, Individuals or other bodies offering to provide help in their local government area. The core function of the software product is to allow a user to: search for relief centers in their local government areas, contact Relief centers, and register as a relief center (organizations or Individuals)
Cc Hub’s GovLab/Digital Security Practice Unit is working on the following:
A Digital Security Work From Home Guide to guide for startups and SMEs which breaks down how to navigate digital safety in these times of remote work.
Launching a digital security incident response program for at-risk media organisations and civil society organisations in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda as a response to the increase in cyber-attacks against both groups.
Working with the Nigerian Information Technology Development Agency to drive policy and initiatives that support startups, and developing a policy document on how the government can effectively support startups during the pandemic and post COVID-19. They are also developing communication tools to advocate for a better government response to the pandemic.
Cc Hub’s Re:learn Practice Unit is working on the following:
Through its education practice- re:learn has designed a free virtual programme called Virtual STEM Hub to empower schools and teachers with the knowledge, skills and content/tools they need to effectively engage their students online and ensure they do not miss out on their learning as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The German tech hub WAZIUP is supporting the innovation project idea called "DIY Beatmungsgerät", which was presented during the #WirVsVirus hackathon held by the German government. The project addresses the shortage of breathing support devices during Covid-19 and therefore aims to develop an open source ventilator, which should be save for the patient but still affordable and easy to implement and to use. Their goal is to build a DIY medical ventilator based on Open Source software and hardware. The design ensures that the ventilator is easy to handle for trained medical personnel, and that it meets up to the strict application requirements in hospitals.
StartupsVsCOVID19: Technoport, a Luxembourg tech hub on the jury to pre-select the best startups for the StartupsVsCOVID19 challenge in Luxembourg where startups are being invited to submit projects relating to the development of technological products or services intended to limit, or even overcome, the economic, health and societal effects of the crisis linked to the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic from April 20th – 30th.
Brno companies united against coronavirus: the JIC tech hub shared a list of their portfolio companies and their anti-COVID technologies and solutions: https://www.jic.cz/en/magazin-covid-19/brno-companies-united-against-coronavirus/
The UK tech hub, Imperial College London has teams of bioengineers and medics working on solutions to tackle COVID-19 such as JamVent. More information can be found here: https://www.imperial.ac.uk/news/196955/low-cost-emergency-ventilator-tackle-coronavirus/