Efficiency for Access Design Challenge Winning Teams

In the past four years, students have submitted 88 projects. We want to recognise all the effort and enthusiasm that all teams have put into their designs.

A panel of reviewers and judges assessed the projects using assessment criteria including innovation, social impact and scalability potential of the designs.

Those teams with higher scores were awarded gold, silver or bronze prizes.

You can learn more about the winning teams’ projects of each competition round below.


Year One: 2019-2020

Participating Teams

The Grand Final took place on the 25 June 2020. A total of 14 projects were submitted by the participating teams from nine universities:

Read more about the projects in the Project Submissions Summary.

Winning Teams

Six teams received gold, silver and bronze awards in the first year of the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge.

Gold award winners:

  • University College London, ‘Off-grid Electric Pressure Cookers for Sub-Saharan African Communities’
  • Makerere University, ‘Standalone Solar Load Management System’

Silver award winners:

  • University of Strathclyde, ‘e-Cook for Developing Countries’
  • Makerere University, ‘Solar Energy Efficient Dish Dryer’

Bronze award winners:

  • Strathmore University, ‘Kijiji, a solar powered container with essential services for empowering rural communities’
  • University of Bath, ‘Off-grid refrigeration systems (ACE)

“It was amazing to bring an entrepreneurial experience to my studies. Our project involved a lot of innovation, design-thinking, uncertainty… unlike structured academic projects, pushing us outside our comfort zone continuously. In the end, it was incredibly rewarding. For me, this made the experience very enjoyable and incredibly valuable.” -Joris Simaitis, University College London

Highlights from Year One

Watch our video for an overview of the inaugural year of the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge.

Year Two: 2020-2021

The Efficiency for Access Design Challenge Grand Final took place on Wednesday 23 June. In the second year of the competition, 94 students from 13 universities in Bangladesh, Kenya, Uganda, India and the UK submitted 23 projects and were supported by over 30 industry partners. These students have spent the year creating innovative designs for off-grid settings.

The winning teams’ projects are:




Read more about the projects in the Project Submissions summary

Year Three: 2021-2022

Winning teams: 2021–22

The Efficiency for Access Design Challenge Grand Final took place on Thursday 23 June. In the third year of the competition, students from universities in Bangladesh, Benin, Cameroon, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sweden, Uganda, the UK, the USA, and Zimbabwe submitted 31 projects and were supported by over 30 industry partners.

Students submitted a wide range of innovative designs suitable for off-grid settings, and the judges were blown away by the standards this year.

The winning teams were:


Team 2021-31 – City, University of London (UK) and Independent University (Bangladesh): Solar Direct Drive Cold Storage System for Off-Grid Preservation of Fish and Perishable goods.

This interuniversity team created a solar direct drive cold storage system for off-grid preservation of fish and perishable goods. The design targeted rural areas in Bangladesh, with the aim to help local economies achieve economic prosperity.


Team 2021-18 – University College London (UK)Space Cooling Air Filtration System with a Grass-Based Filter

Team 2021-18 created a space cooling air filtration system with a grass-based filter. The design utilises a lemongrass filter, attached to a floor fan for use in Chad, Central African Republic, Burundi, and Tanzania, as these countries have limited access to grid electricity, and produce a significant amount of lemongrass.

Team 2021-06 – National University of Sciences and Technology, NUST (Pakistan): Solar-based Dehydrating System for Food Preservation

Team 2021-06 created a solar-based dehydrating system for food preservation. The team designed an efficient and temperature-controlled, solar-powered system for dehydrating food. It aimed to enable farmers to sell their yields at a higher price, thus helping to increase their household income, and avoid food waste by extending the shelf life of farmers’ products.


Team 2021-26 – Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya): Solar Baby Incubator

Team 2021-26 designed a solar-powered baby incubator that aimed to reduce the infant mortality rate in Kenya by providing a technology that will help preterm infants to grow and thrive. The incubator will use a parabolic trough reflector to heat water, which will be used to provide warmth to babies, at a lower price point compared to other electric incubators currently on the market.

Team 2021-25 – Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (Kenya): Solar-Powered Mobile Blood Bank

Team 2021-25 designed a mobile blood bank design that transports blood from major blood banks to remote hospitals while maintaining the integrity and quality of the blood. The proposed mobile blood bank would transport blood over several hours, while avoiding any blood spoilage.

Team 2021 – 43 – Makerere University (Uganda): Solar-Powered IoT Hydroponic System

Team 2021-43 created a solar-powered IoT hydroponic system. Building upon existing technologies, this design enables the user to monitor and control the system remotely, use off-grid renewable energy, and lowers operating and start-up costs.

Team 2021-21 University of Port Harcourt (Nigeria): Semi-Automated Water Vending Machine

The project aimed to provide African communities with a safe, clean, potable water supply. This design seeks to increase the efficiency of energy spent in pumping water, and build a business model around water vending. The system improves the efficiency of the current manually operated system. The system can work in areas with or without network connectivity.

Team 2021-12 Makerere University (Uganda) and Swansea University (UK)Solar-Powered Milk Cooling Unit

The team created a solar-powered milk cooling unit, which aimed to address the challenges faced by dairy farmers in Uganda. The design helps to maintain milk quality during the post-production and transport phase of the value chain. It uses solar energy to power a solid-state cooling solution (thermo-electric devices).

Year Four: 2022-2023

University students from around the world have been awarded top honours at the grand final of the Efficiency for Access Design Challenge, a leading technology innovation competition to design off-grid appliances.

Winner of the Gold Award was the team from Independent University, Bangladesh and Makerere University, Uganda for their solar-powered automated anaerobic digestion system which produces cooking gas and a crop fertiliser from food waste.

The complete list of winners can be found here:

People’s Award:

  • Team 2022-20 – Strathmore University, Kenya
    • Low-cost IoT irrigation system for limited water supply

Gold Award:

  • Team 2022-24 – Independent University, Bangladesh and Makerere University, Uganda
    • Solar-powered automated grinder and anaerobic digestive chamber for producing cooking gas and crop fertilizers

Silver Awards:

  • Team 2022-38 – Aston University, UK
    • Solar powered ICT system
  • Team 2022-04 – Turkana University College, Kenya
    • Solar powered greenhouse
  • Team 2022-20 – Strathmore University, Kenya
    • Low-cost IoT irrigation system for limited water supply

Bronze Awards:

  • Team 2022-25 – University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria
    • Solar dryer
  • Team 2022-33 – University of Nairobi, Kenya
    • Solar powered atmospheric water generator kiosk
  • Team 2022-31 – University of Nairobi, Kenya
    • Automated hydroponic vertical farm

Over 100 aspiring students from Bangladesh, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Senegal, Sweden, Uganda, the UK and Zimbabwe took part in the competition, now in its fourth year.

Click here to read the Year 4 Project Submission Summaries and click here to watch the recording of the Grand Final event.

The purpose of the competition is to enable students worldwide to contribute to the improvement of the lives of communities in underdeveloped or off-grid areas. Presently, around 733 million individuals lack access to electricity, the majority of them concentrated in the Global South.

The Efficiency for Access Design Challenge is delivered by research and development innovators, Efficiency for Access, in collaboration with Engineers Without Borders UK and supported by UK aid and the IKEA Foundation.