Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2021

To stimulate, celebrate and reward innovation and entrepreneurship in SSA


Introduction to the Africa Prize

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation, founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation. It awards crucial commercialization support to ambitious African innovators developing scalable engineering solutions to local challenges, demonstrating the importance of engineering as an enabler of improved quality of life and economic development.

The aim of the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation is to stimulate, celebrate, and reward innovation and entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa.

Applications are invited from entrepreneurs and engineers in sub-Saharan Africa who have developed an innovative product or service that can provide scalable solutions to local challenges, with a particular emphasis on sustainable social and economic development. Applicants with engineering-related innovations from all disciplines are invited to enter, whether or not the applicant themselves have an engineering background.

A seven-month period of tailored training and mentoring culminates in a showcase event where a winner is selected to receive GBP 25,000 along with three runners-up, who are each awarded GBP 10,000.

The Africa Prize is generously supported by the Shell Centenary Scholarship Fund and the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.

Africa Prize Training Process

A shortlist of 16 applicants will be selected to receive a seven-month package of mentoring and training. The program will be structured to give entrepreneurs the skills and knowledge to:

  • strengthen and develop their existing business plans;
  • successfully communicate their innovations through pitching;
  • forge links with potential partners, investors, and customers;
  • further develop their technology;
  • move towards commercialization or scale-up.

The Training

The training will take various formats but will require a significant time commitment over the seven months. All reasonable costs are covered to attend and participate in these activities.

The training period will run from late 2020 to mid-2021. This includes:

  • Remote group and one-on-one training and mentoring, taking place on a regular basis via video conference, telephone calls, and webinars.
  • The potential of a residential training week in Africa and/or the UK*

The Finalists

The shortlist will be asked to submit a full business plan and updates on their business from the first period of training, on our online system, in May 2021. The Judging Panel will review these and identify four finalists.

The Final Event

All shortlisted applicants will display their innovations at an exhibition at the final event* in June/July 2021

The four finalists will pitch in front of a live audience and the Africa Prize judges. The prizes will be awarded following an assessment by the Judging Panel.

  • The winner will receive £25,000
  • Three runners-up will receive £10,000 each.

* Due to COVID-19, in-person training weeks and events are not guaranteed for the 2020-21 cycle. Please assume that the program will be online and will require regular internet access. If you have issues accessing the internet, please let us know in your application so we can try to support you.

Eligibility Criteria

Applicants must have developed, or be in the process of developing a new technological innovation. Applicants should have the ambition to take a leading role in creating a new business to commercialize this innovation.

The Africa Prize is part-funded by the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund, and as such, all activities must be compliant with Official Development Assistance (ODA) rules. Innovations must:

  • Aim to promote the welfare and economic development of a country or countries in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Be designed to address a development need or specific challenge facing that country.
  • Applicants must be individuals or small teams
  • Individual applicants must be citizens of a country in sub-Saharan Africa
  • For teams of two or more, the lead applicant must be a citizen of a country in sub-Saharan Africa
  • The innovation must be based in a country in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Applicants must have an engineering innovation, though are not required to be an engineering graduate or student
  • Applicants must provide a letter of support from a university, research institution, innovation hub or previous incubator program. This can be as simple as stating that an individual studied at or was involved with that institution. If applicants are not affiliated with any organization, another document proving the status of your organization or innovation, such as a document of incorporation or patent certificate may be used.
  • The lead applicant must be over the age of 18 by 1 September 2020. There is no upper age limit.
  • Industrial researchers and establishments are not eligible.
  • The applicant’s innovation can be any new product, technology or service, based on research in engineering defined in its broadest sense to encompass a wide range of fields. This includes but is not limited to: agricultural technology, biotechnology, chemical engineering, civil engineering, computer science, design engineering, electrical and electronic engineering, ICT, materials science, mechanical engineering, and medical engineering. If you are in any doubt that your area of expertise would be considered engineering, then please contact the Academy to discuss your application.
  • Applicants should have developed, and be in the early stages of commercializing, an engineering innovation that:
    • Will bring social and/or environmental benefits to a country/countries in sub-Saharan Africa;
    • Has a strong potential to be replicated and scaled-up;
    • Is accompanied by an ambitious but realistic business plan which has strong commercial viability.

How to Apply

All applications must be submitted via the online grant system, available here: You must register through the system before you can apply. The application form has six sections and will take approximately one and a half to two hours to complete.

For more information on the ODA guidance please visit:



September 14, 2020
OrganizerRoyal Academy of Engineering
Website Visit website
Targets Sub-Saharan Africa
Agribusiness, Clean technology and energy, Computer hardware, Computer software, EdTech, Healthcare, HealthTech, Water, sanitation and hygiene


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