Fifteen projects related to Science, Technology And Innovation (STI) have been awarded by the National Council for Science and Technology (NCST) on October 7 during a networking and cocktail event that gathered STI local and global experts. The event which aimed to help participants network, share ideas and establish collaborations was part of the 7th NCST Council Meeting, which was held under the theme “Integrating STI across all sectors to stimulate Rwanda’s economic growth” from October 6. The winners who secured $90,000 each were in two categories: 5 for Women in Science Research and Innovation (WIS) Grant and 10 for phase 1 of Rwanda Innovation Challenges for Academia-Industry Research and Development Collaboration (RIC-R&D) Grant. The women who secured WIS grant include Dr Annette Uwineza from University Teaching Referral Hospital of Kigali, Dr Delphine Abijuru from Rwanda Energy Group, Peace Bamurigire from University of Rwanda - College of Science and Technology, Annoncée Mukeshimana from ULK Polytechnic Institute as well as Dr Claire D’André Hirwa from Rwanda Agricultural and Animal Resources Board (RAB). The RIC-R&D grantees include Prof Vincent Sezibera and Prof Elias Bizuru from University of Rwanda, Celine Umurenzi of Candela Tech ltd, Dr Moise Busogi from Kigali Collaborative Research Centre, Leandre Berwa from Second Life Storage, Dr Esdras Nshimiyumuremyi from IPRC Tumba, Dr Didace Ndahimana from University of Rwanda, Dr Florence Uwamahoro from the same university, Andre Ndagijimana from the National Industrial Research and Development Agency-NIRDA, as well as Dr Gershome Abaho from the University of Rwanda. Talking about WIS Grant, Eugene Mutimura, Director of NCST, said the grant aims to help women and girls to become research leaders. “For all research and innovation projects,” he said. “At least 30 per cent of the team should be women scientists, but we are making another step to give them a chance to become research leaders.” NCST also incentivises “women and girls in science” through annual celebrations and offering awards to best women and girls (Rising Star, Best women Researcher & Women Leadership awards) and ‘Women in Science’ grant to enable them become leaders of successful projects. Talking about projects that received RIC-R&D grant, Mutimura emphasised that they are special and are expected to change the lives of Rwandans. “We realised that academician researchers needed to move from their workplaces, universities and different research institutions, and go on field to partner with others to do research that births innovations and contribute to the development of Rwandans,” he said, adding that NCST currently supports 106 projects that were granted around Rwf4 billion. Each project secures $90,000 and according to Mutimura, when the grantees work well for a year and a half, they receive additional Rwf300 million to further develop their projects. He said that during the 7th NCST Council Meeting, they also invited Rwandan scientist researchers who live in diaspora to explore what is being done in Rwanda and partner with locals to build strong research excellence. Patrick Ndengera is one of the invited researchers. He lives in Montreal, Canada. He said they are going to officially start working with Rwandan researchers and mobilise diaspora-based ones in over 50 countries to join hands with local universities and their students to do research. Those partnerships, according to Ndengera, will help them to secure grants to implement their projects. “This initiative has potential,” he continued. “We already toured different universities and private sector institutions and observed their challenges as well as how we can help in solving them. We found that possible.” Celine Umurenzi, Founder of Candela Tech ltd, is one of the innovators who received a grant for her project titled “Design and Performance Analysis of the Candela Model 1 – A Novel Electricity Generating Biomass Cookstove.” She said it is unique given that it is made for people in the rural area where they will be able to use a cook stove for cooking purposes and as a source of electricity as well. “The stove will also help them to cook faster without ruining the environment,” she said. “It is an innovation given that all other stoves need solar radiation, but ours will use biomass (renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals).” NCST is also supporting Rwanda Innovation Challenge (RIC) for 34 grantees predominantly youth who are mentored and trained at Rwanda Polytechnic and LEARP Labs. According to the institution, over 50 per cent of beneficiaries are at the level of commercialisation and tangible technology breakthroughs.