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Announcing the Unusual Solutions Competition Grand Prize Winner

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February 26th, 2020

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We know firsthand that it is the data analysis and community and stakeholder engagement—not the drones themselves—that lead to real solutions. 

That's why in June of last year, WeRobotics and PlaceFund (formerly Omidyar Network) launched the Unusual Solutions Competition to find the innovators using drones and data to address some of their communities' most pressing challenges. We especially encouraged solutions and applicants from areas that typically receive lower investment and have higher barriers to entry—Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Applicants didn't need to be technical drone experts, nor even own a drone. They only had to understand the challenge that they wanted to tackle and possess in-depth knowledge of the communities that they aimed to serve.

Unusual Solutions Competition - All Finalists Pictured from left to right: Tawanda Chihambakwe, Mclaren Hoping, Sikem Brice Nyuykonghi, Nicolás di Tada, Shashank Srinivasan, Rose Funja, Bayangmbe Mounmo, Annesya Banerjee, Ónice Arango Flores

Between June and early September of last year, 245 ideas were submitted, reviewed, and scored, ultimately surfacing nine finalists who would compete in the Final Pitch event for the USD 100,000 grand prize. Each of the finalists received USD 15,000 and support from mentors to help them transform their idea into a concept and create a strong pitch for this month's Final Pitch event which took place on February 25.

On the heels of an exciting day of final pitches, we are thrilled to share with you the winner of the Unusual Solutions Competition: Sikem Brice Nyuykonghi!

Sikem’s solution aims to interpret and convey drone and satellite data about environmental issues and the prevailing or possible climate disasters to residents through SMS, interactive phone calls, and radio programs. Based on data collected via ground and drone survey, disaster maps can be developed and made available to stakeholders. This data will enhance their capacity to effectively mitigate climate change events while activating emergency facilities to contain the impact. 

Congratulations to Sikem Brice Nyuykonghi and his team, as well as the eight other finalists for sharing their innovations and working to improve their communities!

The Final Pitch day in Nairobi was a great finale to the 9-month long competition and we feel honored by the support we received from:

  • Our master of ceremony Sheban Naim who inspired all people present with his stories and knowledge of the drone and data world;
  • Linda Kamau, Anahi Ayala Iacucci, Teddy Ruge and Smeldy Ramirez Rufino who invested their long-standing expertise as members of the expert jury panel and had the difficult task to select the final winner out of 9 strong solutions and pitches; and
  • Mrs. Maureen Mbaka, Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of ICT, Innovation and Youth Affairs of Kenya who honored us with opening the event

We are very grateful to PlaceFund for their generous support and partnership for this competition. And would like to thank Kenya Flying Labs for their logistical support and for making us feel at home in Nairobi and our travel consultant, Stephen Green, from TravelClub for bringing all of us safely to Nairobi and back home.

Check out this blog post for more information on each of the Unusual Solutions Finalists and their projects.

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