2021 Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation

Deadline: July 20, 2021.

The Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation aims to stimulate, celebrate and reward engineering entrepreneurship in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Founded by the Royal Academy of Engineering, it is Africa’s biggest prize dedicated to engineering innovation. It awards crucial commercialisation 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 application must be written in English.
  • The lead applicant must be over the age of 18 when applications close on 20 July 2021. There is no upper age limit.
  • Applicants can apply as an individual or as part of a team.
  • The lead applicant must be a citizen of a country in sub-Saharan Africa*. For teams of two or more, the lead applicant (the person participating in training) must be a citizen of a country in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • The lead applicant must be ordinarily based in sub-Saharan Africa; if based overseas, this must be temporary for studies or otherwise.
  • The innovation must be based in a country in sub-Saharan Africa*. 
  • The lead applicant must have an engineering innovation, though they are not required to be an engineering graduate or student to apply.
  • The lead applicant must provide a letter of support from a university, research institution innovation hub or previous incubator programme. 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 organisation, another document proving the status of their organisation or innovation, such as a document of incorporation or patent certificate may be used.
  • Industrial researchers and establishments are not eligible.
  • The 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, including: 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.
  • The innovation must be at technology readiness level 3 or above. Evidence of a prototype should be provided in the application. To learn more about technology readiness levels, please see the link below: 
  • The lead applicant must provide a letter of consent from the originators/collaborators of the IP to this innovation, where relevant.
  • The lead applicant must provide a technical diagram and photo that showcases the technical aspects of the innovation as part of the application.
  • Applicants should have developed, and be in the early stages of commercialising, an engineering innovation that:
  1. ​Will bring social and/or environmental benefits to a country/countries in sub-Saharan Africa
  2. Has strong potential to be replicated and scaled up
  3. Is accompanied by an ambitious but realistic business plan which has strong commercial viability


Shortlisted applicants will receive a seven-month package of tailored support to help them take their innovation to the next step in their commercialisation journey. This includes:

  • Regular online group and one-on-one business and entrepreneurship training from experts, covering topics such as: business model canvas; sales and marketing; revenue models; human resourcing; access to investment; impact measurement; legal considerations for innovators;
  • Mentorship from Fellows of the Academy and its network, tailored to the individual’s needs;
  • Opportunities to travel to London and/or African cities for in-person trainings or events (this is dependent on the COVID-19 situation and it is likely that most training and events for Africa Prize 2022 will be online);
  • Opportunities to pitch your innovation at events attended by high-profile guests including entrepreneurs, investors, dignitaries and media (in Africa Prize 2022 these events may be virtual);
  • Communications support, including pitching your innovations to local, national and international media;
  • Networking opportunities with the Africa Prize shortlist, alumni and wider networks at events;
  • Final prize of GBP £25,000 for the winner and £10,000 each for three runners-up;
  • At the end of the training, the shortlist become part of the Africa Prize alumni community, which continues to receive support from the Academy through invitations to further events, small grant funding and follow-on training.


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