AfriGal Tech team pitches to a panel of judges at the University of Washington in Seattle.
AfriGal Tech team pitches to a panel of judges at the University of Washington in Seattle.
AfriGal Tech team pitches to a panel of judges at the University of Washington in Seattle.

“But you said it has an external lens… how portable is this?” Asked one of the judges before the Ugandan girls pulled out a 3D-printed prototype.

“Oh, it’s like that? Good,” remarked the judge.

The students had made a less than outstanding start to their pitch but caught everyone’s attention when they started taking questions from the panel.

As we walked down the hallway, we were interrupted by a BBC journalist interested in setting up an appointment for a televised interview.

“I’ve just interviewed a team from Australia, and I thought since your innovation is related, it will be interesting to interview you as well,” she said. But they weren’t immediately available as they were rushing to shoot the official Microsoft video for the competition.

The Ugandan team, named AfriGal Tech, has developed mDex, a mobile sickle cell diagnosis tool, made up of a mobile app and an external compound lens, that allows for a quick, easy and affordable diagnosis, by using computer vision and pattern recognition.

According to AfriGal Tech, every year in Uganda 30,000 babies are born with sickle cell disease, a hereditary and life-threatening blood disorder. 80% of these babies won’t make it to the age of five.

Their team of four girls, Bonita Nanziri, Rachel Aitaru, Rebecca Arono and Beatrice Nasike were recognized as the overall winners of the national finals in Uganda. They are the only all-girl team in the finalists, and are being mentored by Joshua Okello, part of 2012’s winning innovation, WinSenga.

Imagine Cup is the world’s premier competition for student technologists, developers and aspiring entrepreneurs to create innovative projects and ultimately bring those ideas to market.

This year’s World Finals are being held Seattle, Washington, with winners expected to be announced later this week.