This year’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) Technology Innovation Awards seem quite different.
According to the leading, global, media outlet the main distinction of this year’s awards is the number of big companies that featured. Editor John Leger said: “Of course, big companies have featured in these awards in the past. But the trend was especially noticeable this year, not only in the number of winners but also in the number submitting applications.”
In Ghana, however, it is remarkable because for the first time a Ghanaian company won a runner up position in partnership with one of the world’s biggest technology companies.
Commenting, Editor John Leger said:
“A number of companies were involved in another trend we noticed this year: innovative projects in the developing world, especially Africa, that could improve the lives of millions of people.
Novartis won the Health-Care IT category for a project that tracks medical supplies in Africa, while H-P and its partner, *mPedigree Network of Ghana*, were runners-up in this category for a text-messaging service that helps users detect counterfeit drugs.”
mPedigree Network (www.mPedigree.Net ), a social enterprise that invented the use of mobile technology to fight counterfeit medicines in Ghana and has since gone international through partnerships with prestigious multinationals has won a number of similar awards. After years of piloting the system in Ghana, the organisation announced with KAMA Health Services in July of this year that the technology is now being commercially deployed in Ghana for the pharmaceutical company’s leading brands. The organisation has made similar announcements in Nigeria and Kenya and is believed to be testing the system in a number of other countries.
The Wall Street Journal Award therefore comes at a crucial time for them. According to the Awards Organisers, they:
“received 605 applications this year from companies, organizations and individuals in 31 countries. A team of Journal editors and reporters reviewed the entries and forwarded 155 to an independent panel of judges from venture-capital firms, universities and other organizations and companies. From that pool, the judges chose a total of 35 winners and runners-up in 16 categories. The judges assessed the applications primarily on these criteria:
• Does the innovation break with conventional ideas or processes in its field?
• Does it go beyond marginal improvements on something that already exists?
• Will it have a wide impact in its field or on future technology?”
They quote Professor Pedro Nueno, professor of entrepreneurship at IESE Business School in Spain and an Innovation Awards judge, as saying: "The mobile phone is a source of innovations in Africa, since access to a mobile phone is the first step toward development."
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