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Tuesday 15th June, 2021

Innovation

Microsoft Planning To Add AI-Powered Text Predictions To Word

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Microsoft plans to add AI-powered text predictions to Word in March.

The software giant first rolled out the feature to 50% of Windows Beta Channels last year.

But an update to the Microsoft 365 roadmap spotted by TechRadar shows the company intends to offer it to all Word users next month.

The feature uses machine learning to make writing suggestions based on the text a user typed.

According to Microsoft, “Text predictions help users write more efficiently by predicting text quickly and accurately.

“The feature reduces spelling and grammar errors and learns overtime to give the best recommendations based on your writing style.”

The update will provide a similar tool to Smart Compose suggestions offered by Word rival Google Docs.

Once the feature launches, users will start seeing the predictions as they type a document.

You can press the TAB key to accept the suggestions and the ESC key to reject them.

Microsoft says that the tool improves over time, but users will be able to turn it off if it’s proving more of a hindrance than a help.

 

 

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2021 ATU Africa Innovation Challenge Launched, As Africa ICT Innovators Poised To Benefit

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Young Innovators......Photo Credit: Africabusinesscommunities.com

The second edition of the ATU Africa Innovation Challenge was Tuesday launched by the African Telecommunications Union (ATU).

ATU made the announcement in Nairobi-Kenya, in a virtual ceremony hosted with competition partner-the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), according to a report by Kachwanya.

Secretary-General of the ATU, Mr John Omo, while announcing the initiative, said: “This initiative will be instrumental in supporting institutional solutions that will boost innovation in Africa and address some of the challenges facing the African community.”

The ATU Africa Innovation Challenge is a programme that seeks to provide both short and long-term solutions and opportunities to the African Youth.

This year’s competition, themed, “Best ecosystem practices in Africa enabling youth ICT innovation,” will run from 15th June to 28th September 2021.

The competition, sponsored by Huawei Technologies Limited (title sponsor) and Intel Corporation, is open to all ecosystem stakeholders such as regulatory authorities, entrepreneurial support organizations, incubators, accelerators, or institutions such as colleges or universities from Africa.

African organisations and institutions that have created an enabling environment for youth ICT innovations to thrive are eligible to participate.

The winning entity will be awarded USD 10, 000 aside from their practice gaining recognition as the best ecosystem practice in Africa enabling youth ICT innovation.

“I want to thank our sponsors especially the headline sponsor, Huawei, for once again demonstrating their commitment to promote innovation and the wider ecosystem in Africa,” said John Omo.

Honourable Dr. Peya Mushelenga, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Namibia, who was the chief guest for the event, applauded the two organizations for the initiative and acknowledged the significance of public-private partnerships in promoting development.

“The collaboration between ATU, Huawei, and other partners is a tool delivered to our hands. Let us use it to generate sustained economic growth in Africa,” he said.

“ITU is proud and pleased to partner with ATU for this particular Challenge as it aligns with our vision for inclusion of youth in digital transformation.

“Youth innovators are centrally placed to ensure the sustainability of innovation in Africa, and they need an enabling environment that fosters and nurtures innovation for them to thrive,” said Mr. Stephen Bereaux from ITU, a specialized United Nations agency responsible for all matters related to information and communication technologies.

The inaugural ATU Africa Innovation Challenge that took place in 2020 recognized and awarded 11 finalists across Africa who had developed mobile applications helpful in benefiting Africa’s fight against COVID-19 and its effects.

Egypt’s Mai Nagy topped the competition, followed by Mr. Abdinoor Yerrow from Kenya and Ms. Bequerelle Matemtsap Mbou from Cameroon. Other countries that made it to the top 11 were Zimbabwe, Senegal, Lesotho, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Benin, and Tanzania.

Reflecting on the first Innovation Challenge and the anticipated benefits of the second innovation Challenge, the title sponsor for the Challenge for two years in a row, Mr Samuel Chen, Vice President for Huawei Southern Africa Region, highlighted the strong partnership with ATU.

He noted that “Huawei is committed to developing innovations that bring the benefits of technology to all alongside supporting and enabling innovation and digital ecosystem development in Africa by Africans through training and partnerships alongside infrastructure and digital services.”

Participants will be required to submit (via the ATU website, www.atuuat.africa) a unique practice that has created an enabling environment for youth ICT innovation to thrive together with success stories of two innovators that are beneficiaries of the practice.

The practice must be an original idea/concept developed by the ecosystem stakeholder and must have been successfully implemented (and running) for a minimum of one year. It can be in the form of a policy, an initiative, or a programme.

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54gene Wins World Economic Forum ‘Technology Pioneer’ Award

The World Economic Forum announced its selection of the 100 most promising Technology Pioneers of 2021 – companies that are shaping industries from healthcare to retail and many more.

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54gene, the health technology company deriving insights from the world’s most diverse populations to solve some of healthcare’s biggest challenges, was selected among hundreds of candidates as one of the World Economic Forum’s “Technology Pioneers.”

Founded in 2019, the company generates genetic insights from research cohorts in the world’s most diverse populations to improve the development, availability and efficacy of therapeutics and diagnostics that will prove beneficial to all populations.

The World Economic Forum’s Technology Pioneers are early to growth-stage companies from around the world that are involved in the use of new technologies and innovation that are poised to have a significant impact on business and society.

With their selection as a Technology Pioneer, CEO of 54gene, Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong will be invited to participate in the World Economic Forum activities, events and discussions throughout the year. 54gene will also contribute to Forum initiatives over the next two years, working with global leaders to help address key industry and societal issues.

“We’re excited to welcome 54gene to our 2021 cohort of Technology Pioneers,” says Susan Nesbitt, Head of the Global Innovators Community, World Economic Forum.

“54gene and its fellow pioneers are developing technologies that can help society solve some of its most pressing issues. We look forward to their contribution to the World Economic Forum in its commitment to improving the state of the world.”

“It is truly an honour to be recognised as a Technology Pioneer by the World Economic Forum,” said 54gene’s Dr. Abasi Ene-Obong.

“This is testament to the outstanding collective output of the 54gene team to address global health disparities and to imagine a world where precision medicine applies equally to all irrespective of one’s geographical location or economic status. There’s a long journey ahead and we look forward to continuing to collaborate and innovate with other mission-driven organizations all over the world.

For the first time in the community’s history, over 30% of the cohort is led by women. The firms also come from regions all around the world, extending their community far beyond Silicon Valley. This year’s cohort includes start-ups from 26 economies, with UAE, El Salvador, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe represented for the first time.

The diversity of these companies extends to their innovations as well. 2021 Tech Pioneer firms are shaping the future by advancing technologies such as AI, IoT, robotics, blockchain, biotechnology and many more. The full list of Technology Pioneers can be found here.

Technology Pioneers have been selected based on the community’s selection criteria, which includes innovation, impact and leadership as well as the company’s relevance with the World Economic Forum’s Platforms.

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Salient Advisory Seeks Support For African Healthtech Innovators

A new report by Salient Advisory calls for support to enable African healthtech innovators to accelerate impact and deliver at scale.

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Healthcare consulting firm, Salient Advisory, has launched a healthcare report calling on donor agencies and governments and impacting investors to accelerate the impact and scale of African health-tech innovators working in the supply chain.

The report, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and titled, “Innovations in Health Product Distribution in Sub-Saharan Africa,” sets out a series of actionable recommendations for global health actors.

As a result of COVID-19, innovative approaches to distributing medicines are growing. The report engaged with 61 of these health-tech innovators, including Mymedicines.com, Shelf Life, RxAll, MYDAWA, Pronov.

Data can now reveal a consistent expansion in the ecosystem of tech-enabled supply chain companies within sub-Saharan Africa, primarily driven by companies in Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya.

The findings show a more than 100% increase in technology-enabled business models since 2018, as these companies work to change how healthcare products are distributed.

Of the companies surveyed, 53% reported hoping to support the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines by providing trusted information, track-and-trace services, supporting last-mile delivery and aiding in vaccine administration.

Propelled by COVID-19, businesses that pair telemedicine with product delivery are the most common offerings among new entrants.

For the first time, the number of innovators that report operating in both urban and rural areas [49%] surpassed those operating exclusively in urban areas [48%], driving scale, impact and profitability.

As businesses continue to respond to COVID-19, the report calls for more to be done to support, nurture, fund and provide infrastructure access to innovators across Africa who can have a positive and impactful effect on the health care systems.

Building on these challenges, Salient’s key recommendations for global health actors therefore include:

-Reshaping investment ecosystems to ensure more equitable funding and professionalized support is accessible to high-potential African founders, including female founders and innovators in francophone Africa.

-Catalyzing partnerships between the innovators, NGOs, industry, and governments enable the distribution of publicly subsidized products through locally-grown, tech-driven platforms, especially in rural areas.

-Increasing access to affordable working capital and mechanisms to enable innovators to offer low-cost onward lending to their customers.

-Reviewing, developing and harmonizing regulations for telemedicine providers and innovators offering digitally enabled direct-to-consumer distribution of medicines.

Speaking on the launch of the report, Remi Adeseun, Director at Salient, commented: “In our conversations with African innovators, it is clear the global pandemic has stimulated digital health care startups to develop innovative and commercially viable solutions that will transform health product distribution for consumers and providers alike.

“While technology-driven innovations continue to grow, our report has highlighted many constraints faced by innovators across the continent, including lack of access to capital and un-harmonized regulatory environments.

“Salient is now calling on all global health players, but in particular, those who operate across Africa, to move quickly to engage high-potential innovations, to build health care supply chains of the future.”

Cheikh Oumar Seydi, Director, Africa, at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, also noted: “The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in Africa, and in response governments, the private sector, donors, and health workers have stepped up.

“This new survey shows that sub-Saharan Africa start-ups are keen to do more to support the distribution of essential medicines and vaccines and are already investing in the technology to do so.

“As we work to deliver a fair and equitable approach, we must leverage partnerships and collaborate sector to sector, locally and internationally, to strengthen health care systems and achieve universal health coverage.”

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