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Segun Afolaranmi of the Nuffield Department of Surgical Sciences (NDS) is one of five graduate students currently studying at Oxford who has been awarded a £1,000 grant from the Vice Chancellor’s COVID-19 African Innovation Seed Fund for an entrepreneurial project aimed at addressing global challenges stemming from the pandemic.

Segun Afolaranmi in the lab

The five winners have reimagined their research, in light of the pandemic, and are using their expertise to accelerate access to education, health services, and safe drinking water. Segun has reimagined his research by developing an app to support career development and entrepreneurship among secondary school students in Nigeria.

Professor Louise Richardson, Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, said, ‘I am proud to see how the five students have reimagined their research to address urgent global challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst completing their graduate courses in the midst of a global pandemic, they have unleashed their creativity and insight to support the most vulnerable in our societies.’

The COVID-19 African Innovation Seed Fund grants were awarded in partnership with the Oxford University Africa Society, during the 2021 Oxford Africa Conference. Held virtually this year, the Conference was introduced by Dr Tedros Adhanom, Director General of the WHO, and it highlighted innovations and progress in health, economics, climate and politics in Africa.

Dr Elisha Ngetich, President of the Africa Society and a current DPhil candidate at NDS, said, ‘Innovation is the cornerstone of Africa’s future. I am delighted to see the cutting-edge research and innovation being done by African students at Oxford and the potential this could have for the continent.’

The Africa Oxford Initiative was proud to support the 10th edition of the Oxford Africa Conference. The AfOx Health Innovation Platform supports African innovators develop new solutions to Africa’s health challenges. 

Dr Watu Wamae, AfOx Health Innovation Platform Lead said, 'The creativity and phenomenal ability of the 5 students to pivot their research to address real challenges in Africa is commendable. With their specific knowledge and engagement with the African context, they are uniquely positioned to tap into the vibrant Oxford innovation ecosystem to create purpose-focused solutions that will positively impact livelihoods. The winners truly represent the explosion of talent that is in the African continent.'

TGI career mobile app

Segun is taking an MSc in Integrated Immunology at NDS. He is also the co-founder of The Ganglion Initiative, an organisation supporting career development and entrepreneurship among secondary school students in Nigeria.  

This award is in honour for the dedicated volunteers at The Ganglion Initiative who work tirelessly to achieve our vision, and the funding will support our efforts to reach more students by deploying the online tool - Segun Afolaranmi

The pandemic significantly affected Nigeria’s already weak schools career counselling services. Segun’s team is building an innovative mobile app. It will allow The Ganglion Initiative to reach more students and schools digitally, providing comprehensive and tailored information on career and scholarship opportunities.

The app will simplify information on seemingly complex topics, such as choosing a career and applying to university, through explainer videos and puzzles. Users will also be able to chat with directly with volunteers enrolled in higher education.

Their aim is to reach at least 20,000 Nigerian students. The support from the Vice Chancellor’s COVID-19 African Innovation Seed Fund will help complete the product design of the app as well as online and offline publicity of the app.

Find out about all the winners and their innovations.