Students Pitch Ideas in Entrepreneurial Competition at ‘Demo Day’

The Office of Research, Innovation and Development hosted the final competition of the Innovation for African Universities (IAU) student enterprise initiative dubbed ‘DEMO DAY’. The ‘Connecting Ghana Project’ brought together students from the University of Ghana (UG), University of Cape Coast (UCC) and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST).

Partners in this student enterprise, include Impact Hub-Accra, and Imperial College London, and Universal Merchant Bank, with funding from the British Council. The keenly contested finale took place on July 28th 2023, at the ISSER conference hall on the UG Legon campus.

The event was an enterprise pitch competition aimed at promoting entrepreneurial skills development featuring fifteen (15) teams of finalists from the 3 institutions, competing for support to develop a business idea into a viable commercial venture. The teams faced a panel of judges- Mr Eric Nsarkor (MEST Africa), Mrs Abena Serwaa Boateng, (Food and Drugs Authority, FDA) and Dr Ebenezer Kakrah Hammah, a businessman who evaluated presentations based on the following criteria;



Presentation skill, innovation, market potential, business model, environment and social impact, and execution plan and the team’s ‘ask’. In addition, prototypes and samples of products were presented for evaluation.

The function was attended by Professor Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, Vice-Chancellor, Professor Felix Ankomah Asante, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research, Innovation and Development), Professor Justice Bawole, Dean, Business School, Dr George Acheampong (UGBS), Mrs Emeila Agyei-Mensah, Registrar.  Dr Karen Arthur and Dr Sam Akomea Esq. represented UCC and KNUST respectively. 

Professor Appiah Amfo challenged all teams to present viable and brilliant ideas that will prepare them for the fourth industrial revolution. She advocated for solutions that would reduce Ghana’s dependency on imports and meet traditional demand, as local ideas are more suited to Ghana’s needs. She expressed UG’s gratitude to all partners and invited industry to collaborate with UG to push the boundaries of development in Africa.

                                                                     Section of the Audience

Professor Asante, who spearheaded the IAU network partnership and has led efforts to champion innovation at UG, entreated students to ascend beyond concepts, to ‘dream big’ and transform ideas into commercial ventures. He applauded the commitment of UG’s partners in this initiative for their collective determination to empower students.

The keynote speaker for the occasion was Ms Constance Swaniker, who is an entrepreneur. She shared her experience of navigating and sustaining a business and admonished the students not to habour attitudes of ‘entitlement’ but to step out of familiar domain and venture into deprived areas from where innovative ideas emanate. She stated that ‘creativity is the height of intelligence’ and that opportunities often spring out from unexpected places. She encouraged the candidates to generate a solution for every problem they face and seek lessons when they fail.

                                                                                                     Keynote Speaker

Solidarity messages were received from representatives of the British Council, Impact Hub-Accra, Imperial College London, UCC and KNUST as well as Dr George Acheampong, project lead of the UGBS Nest, an innovation and incubation hub.

Participating teams presented illustrations of their business model within three minutes allocated and answered questions from judges. At the end of the presentation session the winning teams emerged to raucous applause from student groups.

Mc Han Ogranics, a team from KNUST emerged as winners of the competition, with a business plan to process cocoa pods into cosmetics products and detergents.

In second place was Smart Farms also from KNUST with a proposal to develop ‘green’ dryers to address the reliance on sun drying of crops and post-harvest losses. The technology is powered by solar energy and other renewable energy sources.

The University of Ghana team, EUDUVARA placed third. They had developed an innovative school management suite to address inefficiencies of administrative processes in education. The suite was also designed to resolve the challenge of limited internet connectivity in schools.

Prices awarded to the winning teams ranged from GHc50,000 to GHc20,000 consisting of cash and specified hours of mentorship and training by business professionals. Ultimately, it is hoped that viable commercial businesses would be established as an outcome of the ‘Connecting Ghana Project’.

The DEMO DAY competition completed a two-year project which sought to nurture creativity, and imbibe a sense of entrepreneurship in the youth, it also signaled the inception of a culture of innovation, commercialization, and the development of ideas to address societal challenges.

Mrs Agyei-Mensah, thanked participants, organizers, partners, and sponsors for the success of the event.

                                                                                               Group Photograph