The winner of the Ericsson Innovation Awards 2016 for sub-Saharan Africa is Illuminum Greenhouses from Kenya. Competing under the theme “Future of Food” the team, won for their smart greenhouse concept that uses sensors and mobile technology.
The team walks away with Kshs 1 million (US $10,000) and an entry into the Ericsson global Innovation Awards that takes place in early 2017.
(TOP: Aakaash Seghal, Ericsson Kenya country manager – left – presents the dummy cheque to Illuminum Greenhouses’ Taita Ng’etich – centre – and Brian Bett).
Illuminum Greenhouses creates a limitless integrated modern greenhouse with sensors that monitor temperature, humidity, soil moisture and most importantly regulate the water supply which is channeled through driplines and linked to the farmers mobile phone. The system self regulates the soil moisture by irrigating when necessary and at the same time measuring the amount of water being irrigated. This data is pushed to a cloud system via SMS or GPRS and analyzed by the Illuminum Greenhouses team to provide predictive information on proper water management allowing farmers to save up to 60 percent of their water bills.
Taita Ngetich, Co-founder of Illuminum Greenhouses says: ”Our team is extremely proud to have won this award. It is a real boost to us and will enable the internet of things further penetrate and reach the base of pyramid farmers across the region. Water management is key to agriculture across sub-Saharan Africa and we are happy we can play a role in this by minimising wastage using solar-powered sensors”.
This year’s competition attracted 99 entries from thirteen countries across the region. Innovation hubs, universities, start-ups and SME’s were invited to enter applications and ICT solutions that impact the agricultural value chain in an innovative way.
Aakaash Sehgal, Managing Director, Ericsson Kenya says: “We are once again proud as Ericsson to stimulate and reward ICT innovation in the region through the Ericsson Innovation Awards. It is also appropriate that the winning solution confronts the issue of water scarcity using cloud and mobile technology, cornerstones of Ericsson’s technology leadership.”
The judging panel made up of four people – Caroline Berns, Head of Talent Acquisition at Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa; Pelayo Omotoso, Director of Strategy for GCU MTN; Brett Haggard, head of Hypertext Media and Derrick Kotze, CEO, mLab Southern Africa – had a set criteria for selecting the winner. The winning solution had to solve the problem in an innovative way, be sustainable and socially responsible as well as scalable. Despite the numerous exciting entries, Illuminum Greenhouses best met all of these criteria.
The regional Ericsson Innovation Awards 2016 was an opportunity for start-ups and application developers to showcase solutions that will support the transformation of agriculture and food production across sub-Saharan Africa.
As devices and connectivity become increasingly ubiquitous, so do the opportunities for emerging technologies to resolve the challenges of agricultural production increase. Solutions like this one demonstrate the potential of ICT to transform all sectors of the economy, in this case, it is agriculture.
Ericsson is one of the world’s largest ICT companies and Innovation is one of the cornerstones of its success over the last 140 years. Over the last few years, the Innovation Awards for sub-Saharan Africa have provided a platform for regional innovation.