JLA announces winners of Renewable Energy Innovation Challenge

Jacob’s Ladder Africa (JLA), together with the University of Nairobi (UoN), has announced the winners of the Renewable Energy Innovation Challenge, which sought to provide a platform for Kenyan youth to develop solutions that leverage renewable energy to address challenges born out of the adverse effects of climate change and unequal energy access in Kenya.

The Renewable Energy Innovation Challenge is an initiative of JLA’s greenLabs Incubation Program, in which young people aged 20-25 from across the country were asked to research, develop and submit ideas which innovatively address the impacts of climate change and energy access over a one month period.

(TOP: greenLabs Renewable Energy Innovation Challenge winners with JLA executives, judges, and mentors). 

During the Demo Day, the final stage of the Innovation Challenge, 24 finalists presented their solutions to judges and guests. The top five finalists pitched their ideas, following which the top three were named winners of the Challenge. The judging panel consisted of Phyllis Migwi, Country GM, Microsoft East Africa; Klaudine Wakasa, Senior Advisor, Mercy Corps; Chebet Lesan, founder, Bright Green Energy; Nicholus Kimali, CEO, Fedha Electrics; and George Mosomi, Platform Associate, Mercy Corps Ventures.

Below are the top three finalists:

  1. SunTrack, which measures energy consumption and enables individuals and businesses to track their energy consumption to effectively procure solar systems.
  2. Umeme Sense is a smart metering technology that reduces energy wastage by ensuring that industries and commercial buildings are optimising their energy usage through remote and real-time monitoring, load scheduling and load-shedding techniques.
  3. Mobilab, solar-powered buses which are set to revolutionise education in Kenya. Bridging the digital gap, the startup brings hands-on STEM learning to schools, while promoting clean energy and reducing inequality.

HyPro Station, a crowd favourite, is a proposed green hydrogen generation plant. HyPro’s major market is the $900 billion carbon offset market. HyPro secures truck driver jobs, small businesses, homes, hospitals and the community water supply.

All 24 finalists, including the top three, will have the opportunity to be a part of the greenLabs Incubation Program for a period of nine months. Through the program, the entrepreneurs will have access to mentorship, training and cross-learning opportunities

Speaking at the Renewable Energy Innovation Challenge Demo Day, Karen Chelang’at, Chief Innovation Officer, Jacob’s Ladder Africa said: “At the heart of JLA’s mission is the proliferation of green solutions, with African youth at the centre. Through the Renewable Energy Innovation Challenge, we have been able to mentor and journey with young people from across the country who have come up with impressive innovative solutions, proving that the youth have what it takes to ideate and implement green solutions that solve current and pressing socio-economic issues in the country.”

The effects of climate change on Kenyan communities are diverse and range from impacts on agriculture, resulting in food insecurity to uneven distribution of resources and a lack of access to clean energy for individuals and communities. The Innovation Challenge was launched to foster the conceptualization of solutions that have the potential to become green startups through incubation, and eventually create jobs in the long run.

Professor Mary Kinoti, Director of Innovation and Intellectual Property Management said: “We are pleased to collaborate with Jacob’s Ladder Africa in this endeavour. The University of Nairobi remains committed to supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialisation of solutions that address different challenges in the country and welcomes opportunities for like-minded collaborations.”

Jacob’s Ladder Africa is a continental non-governmental organisation that is advancing green solutions, climate innovation, and sustainability pathways through a youth-centric approach. JLA is predominantly focused on green workforce readiness with a mission to catalyse 30 million jobs in the green economy in Africa by 2033. JLA does this through the development and implementation of socio-economic programs, incubation of young entrepreneurs and advocacy, which creates an opportunity narrative on climate change across the continent.

greenLabs’ overall goal is to nurture a new generation of green entrepreneurs and support the building of innovative ideas with the potential for creating green jobs. The program supports young people who have brilliant ideas through an early stage start-up incubator, developing them for the pre-seed funding stage. It does so by providing a hands-on approach to training, mentorship and cross-learning opportunities to ensure participants have a solid foundation of knowledge and skills, plus a winning mindset, to help them succeed as entrepreneurs in the green economy.


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