The 300 guests of last year’s Falling Walls Lab Finale were almost unanimous in their vote: Chiedza Kambasha, a social entrepreneur from Zimbabwe, convinced this high-level audience with her project IGNITE AFRICA. Her initiative supports 3D-bioprinting to work against illegal organ trading and helps women in rural areas by providing education and services on the topic.
A few weeks after her participation we had the opportunity to ask Chiedza a few questions about her work and her Falling Walls Lab experience:
1. What was your absolute highlight during the Falling Walls days?
My highlight was being the first Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur on the stage in Berlin representing Southern Africa and to be able to network with like-minded entrepreneurs, researchers and scientists. Becoming a Lab Finalist and Audience Award winner was the moment that changed my life literally, as I didn’t have to over explain my work. In Africa, sometimes when I try to explain my work, they think such technology does not exist. So to be among scientists who appreciate what I do and what we seek to achieve in Africa – which is dubbed the “new frontier” – is priceless.
It also helped me to meet like-minded people and to establish – hopefully – long-lasting relations: I am still in touch with 75 of the 100 fellow Lab participants and with a dozens of guests of the Falling Walls Conference
2. What projects do you have in your pipeline next?
The Finale of the Falling Walls Lab of 2016 made me realise that the research we were undertaking has opened a window for cross-continental collaborations with research groups, government departments and technology companies specifically in Germany where the quality of products we need are of engineering finesse and of a high standard compatible with the demand and outline of the quality service we aim to provide. Ignite Africa will be embarking on the following:
- Constructing the first “Organ Centre” in Africa which will print on demand components for healthcare, with a linked vocational technology academy that will provide technology transfer courses, programmes and projects in rural Musana, Bindura (province in Central Zimbabwe).
- Developing a “Synthetic Blood Bank” that will focus heavily on stem cell research for providing alternative blood products that will eliminate blood shortages on the continent that have contributed to over 30% of annual deaths.
- Increasing our social footprint by getting communities involved in the conservation efforts of the ecosystem of animals, while seeking alternative methods to increase sustainable practices that do not destroy wildlife.
- Reducing threats to peace and security that are stimulated by lack of employment, radicalisation, crime and trafficking through our Butterfly Borders Initiative. Through the initiative we aim to work closely with law enforcement to reduce these threats to peace and security. Threats that are growing and taking on new forms of operational strategies making it difficult to identity potential perpetrators and the mechanisms devised to fund terror.
Learn more about Ignite Africa: http://www.igniteafricagroup.org/
3. Can you summarize your 3-minute pitch in three sentences and let us know how your research can have a positive impact?
It can have a positive impact by
- Unlocking potential for everyone that is using 3D bio printing as a catalyst.
- Changing the narrative of healthcare provision in Africa through the promotion and implementation of new skills and technology.
- Eliminating illegal organ trafficking through creation of employment using community focused technology transfer programmes in rural Africa.
The research will have a positive impact by creating new skills, new jobs, reducing the mortality rate and strengthening the healthcare sector which is essentially the backbone of a nation’s security.
4. What would you like to share with prospective participants of the Falling Walls Lab?
We have secured land in rural Bindura to build the continents first “Organ Centre” and are working on forming greater partnerships to provide technology for the centre, to reduce healthcare asylum and migration etc. We are also excited because we are going to eliminate rural to urban migration by creating local employment.
The first Falling Walls Labs 2017 are open for applications. Present your idea and travel to the Finale in Berlin!