By Nume Ekeghe

Winners have emerged in the Union Bank Campus Innovation Challenge, following a pitch event which held recently in Lagos.

The Innovation Challenge provided a platform for students of tertiary institutions to present innovative, technology-driven ideas that address social and business challenges, for a chance to attract financial and mentorship support from Union Bank of Nigeria and leading social innovation hub, Co-Creation Hub (CcHub).

During the one-month entry period which spanned from July 4 to August 5, over 800 entries were received from students across the country with innovative ideas that sought to solve various challenges in the society.

Following the entry period, nine semi-finalists were shortlisted from the vast pool of entries and invited to present their ideas which were judged based on criteria including business model, innovation, capacity to execute, market opportunity and level of social impact.

The panel of judges included Union Bank’s Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Lola Cardoso; Head, Transaction Banking, Chidi Ileka; Director of People at CcHub, Toun Tunde-Anjous; South-West Executive Director at Bank of Agriculture, Bode Abikoye and Executive Director, LEAP Africa, Femi Taiwo.

The duo of Kolawole Tomisin and Erioluwa Morenikeji, from the University of Ibadan emerged first prize winners of N1.5 million for their initiative – Vinsighte, a health technology project that makes use of technology to help blind and visually impaired persons live a happier, more comfortable life.

The first runners up, Obasogie Okpamen, Hermans Joshua and Usifoh Benedict all from Landmark University, received N1 million for their sustainable power project, Ina Lite;  while the second runners-up from the Federal University of Technology Akure, Alabi Oladimeji and Solomon Fabusuyi got N500,000 for Farmally, an agricultural funding initiative.

In addition to the cash prizes, all three winning ideas wiuld access a 6-month incubation programme with CcHub, where they would receive the necessary support to for their innovative ideas.

Speaking at the event, Cardoso reiterated Union Bank’s focus on encouraging innovation among the youth of Nigeria having identified its importance to the future of Nigeria.

She said: “Union Bank remains focused on supporting youth development and innovation; two elements we have identified as being vital to national growth and sustainability.

“We applaud the finalists and winners for their impressive ideas and hope the Campus Innovation Challenge will continue to inspire young Nigerians to think innovatively about creating solutions that will ensure Nigeria’s long-term development.”

While expressing their gratitude to Union Bank and CcHub, the first prize winners of the Challenge said:

“We are excited at this opportunity to bring our dreams to life and we thank Union Bank and CcHub for providing this platform to showcase our idea and win this amazing prize.”

Last year, during its Centenary anniversary, the bank organised the Centenary Innovation Challenge, to find and support innovative ideas that address the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in entrepreneurial ways which enable economic and societal growth.

One of the winners from the 2017 competition, Peter Ayeni, founder of Mbele, who won 1 Million Naira for his learning gamification project initiative, went on to be selected as a participant in the prestigious Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders.

Union Bank continues to support the development of innovative ideas which would go a long way in shaping a better, more sustainable future for generations to come.