Energy Innovation Challenge

The Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge, launching today, challenges young East African entrepreneurs to form teams and come up with imaginative ways of distributing or implementing novel or existing energy technologies for off-grid villages.

Each team should include one engineer or scientist. The teams with the best entries will win a spot in the Cambridge Development Initiative (CDI) summer 2015 entrepreneurship training course based at the University of Dar es Salaam and the opportunity to then pitch to win at least $3000 prize capital to help implement their idea.

In collaboration with the CDI, The Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenge is being organised by the global Smart Villages Initiative, which aims to provide advice to policy makers on the potential for off-grid energy to deliver sustainable growth in the developing world. According to Project Co-Leaders Dr John Holmes and Dr Bernie Jones, technological innovations for providing electricity services, lighting and cooking have started to change attitudes towards off-grid energy in the developing world. “However, despite decreasing costs and increased consumer demand for these technologies, their distribution and implementation remain challenging. We have already held a series of workshops in Africa and Asian confirming this and demonstrating that finding the right business model for an off-grid energy solution can be tricky and sometimes comes after a lot of trial and error. To address this issue, we have therefore decided to trial this first Energy Innovation Challenge in East Africa.”

Kristin Shine Polman, Director for International Competitions at Smart Villages commented: “Every great innovation starts with an idea, but learning the skills to develop your idea into a successful business are just as important as the idea itself. We are delighted to have been able to collaborate with the Cambridge Development Initiative to run a competition focused on introducing students with a science and engineering background to the skills necessary to turn a great idea into a successful real world innovation. We have already had an enthusiastic response to the competition and are looking into running a similar one in India.”

Full details on the competition can be found at and the closing date for entries is 12pm 17th April (EAT).

Kristin continued, “this competition is a great opportunity for current and recent students to get the chance to work with outstanding local and international organisations including Global Village Energy Partnership, Practical Action, The Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH) and E.ON Off-Grid Solutions. By running this competition, Smart Villages hopes that students will be inspired and enabled to make a difference in the village-level energy space.”’

The Smart Villages Energy Innovation Challenges opens today and prospective applicants are invited to visit

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