Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2021 (prize of GBP £25,000)

Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 2021 (prize of GBP £25,000)

Deadline: September 14, 2020

Applications are open for the Royal Academy of Engineering Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation 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.

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


Shortlisted applicants will receive a seven-month package of tailored support to help them achieve 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 will be online).
  • Opportunities to pitch your innovation at events attended by high-profile guests including entrepreneurs, investors, dignitaries and media (to note in Africa Prize 2021 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.


  • Applicants must be individuals or small groups.
  • Individual applicants must be citizens of a country within sub-Saharan Africa. For teams of two or more, the lead applicant must be a citizen of a country within 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 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 your organisation or innovation, such as a document of incorporation or patent certificate may be used.
  • Industrial researchers and establishments are not eligible.
  • The lead applicant must be over the age of 18 by September 1, 2020. There is no upper age limit.
  • 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, 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.
  • Applicants should have developed, and be in the early stages of commercialising, an engineering innovation that:
    • ​Will bring social and/or environmental benefits to a country/countries in sub-Saharan Africa
    • Has strong potential to be replicated and scaled up
    • Is accompanied by an ambitious but realistic business plan which has strong commercial viability

Eligible Countries

For the purposes of the programme, the definition of sub-Saharan Africa includes all countries defined by the African Union within Central, East, Southern, and West Africa.

These are: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Congo Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Djibouti, DR Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.


All applications must be submitted via the online grants system. Applicants should ensure they read the guidance notes as well as the FAQ and eligibility pages before submitting their application.

Click here to apply

For more information, visit Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation.