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Nigeria awards AI research grant to Lendsqr and 44 other startups and experts

45 startups and researchers have been picked for the first National AI Research Scheme, with each grantee set to receive a ₦5 million grant.

Nigeria awards AI research grant to Lendsqr and 44 other startups and experts
Bosun Tijani, Nigeria's minister of communication, innovation, and digital economy at the AI Safety Summit organised by the UK

Bosun Tijani, Nigeria's minister of communication, innovation, and digital economy has announced 45 recipients for the National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Grant Scheme.

The grantees, including Lendsqr, a Nigerian fintech startup, will ₦5 million grant each. "We’ve launched the Nigeria Artificial Intelligence Research Scheme to fund 45 consortia of startups and researchers to allow them to explore further opportunities to deepen their work and build a sustainable AI ecosystem in Nigeria," Tijani disclosed when the scheme was launched.

The grantees, spanning sectors like agriculture, healthcare, education, finance, security, and environmental sustainability, were chosen by a team of 25 AI experts, including academics from both local and foreign universities.

According to Tijani, "[The proposals of the grantees] tackle some of our most pressing challenges and offer the potential to revolutionise industries, empower communities and unlock a future full of possibilities".

Despite criticism from commentators regarding the minister's efforts in AI development, he emphasised, "We can’t say because we are an African country, it’s not important. For the kind of problems that we want to address within this government, it is extremely important that we mainstream the application of Artificial Intelligence. Because without data and knowledge of your people, properties and society, there’s so much you can’t do."

"When we talk about security there’s so much that data can help you do by studying and understanding your environment by digesting these things. One thing about Artificial Intelligence, it helps in allocation of resources as well," he added.

Related Article: Africans secured 60% of the Gates Foundation’s $5M fund for health-focused AI projects

In November, Nigeria joined two other African countries in signing the "Bletchley Declaration," a collective commitment made by over 20 nations, including the US and the UK, to address the challenges presented by AI. Nigeria is currently developing its national AI strategy.


Meet the grantees for the debut National AI Research Grant Scheme

Find the list of the grantees and their projects as published by the Minister's office.

Health

  • Ofordum Ikenna David (Nigerian Researcher): Revolutionising cancer treatment in Nigeria using machine learning and deep learning algorithms.
  • TechCare Diagnostics Research Team (Nigerian Researcher): Creation of a centralised online library for the collection and interpretation of X-Ray, CTScan, MRI and Genomic Data using AI.
  • Aurelius (Startup): An AI system for automated contouring in radiation therapy planning.
  • Hauwa Ahmad Amshi (Nigerian Researcher): AI and telemedicine for predicting, monitoring, and raising awareness about chronic kidney disease linked to water contamination.
  • Lagos State University (Nigerian Researcher): Wearable sensor-based AI system for early detection and personalised management of lung cancer.
  • Cardio Intel (Startup): AI-enabled mobile app for personalized monitoring and early detection of cardiovascular diseases.
  • Nurse Oge (Startup): An AI-powered healthcare model for patient monitoring, diagnosis, and treatment.
  • Nasir Idris Ibrahim (Nigerian Researcher): An AI-driven mental health support platform leveraging cloud computing for personalized assistance to people dealing with depression
  • Dr. Obasa, Adekunle Isiaka (Nigerian Researcher): Application using hybrid machine learning techniques to improve the diagnosis of ischemic strokes in CT scan images.
  • Adejo George Ode (Nigerian Researcher): Predicting and preventing tropical diseases using AI in regions with limited resources.
  • Tamela (Startup): Development and training of AI models for ultrasound imaging in pregnancy.
  • Maruf Adewole (Nigerian Researcher): Low-resource PACS platform for improving access to imaging data and AI applications in healthcare.
  • All For Tech Empowerment Foundation (Technology Company): AI-driven Clinical Decision Support System for managing Diphtheria in African regions.
  • Quantum Innovative Tech Solutions Ltd (Startup): AI-powered personal health management system for real-time insights and anomaly detection.
  • Life-Elixir Computers (Startup): Region-specific AI algorithms for cancer diagnosis in medical image analysis.

Agriculture

  • Abidoye Luqman Kolawole (Nigerian Researcher): UAVs and deep learning for real-time pest detection and automated pesticide spraying in crop fields.
  • Farmspeak Technology Limited (Startup): AI platform for real-time insights to reduce poultry mortality rates and enhance climate resilience.
  • Dr Harisu Abdullahi Shehu (Nigerian in Diaspora Researcher): AI for early detection and management of Tuta absoluta infestations in tomato crops.
  • Yakubu Ibrahim (Nigerian Researcher): Computer vision and UAVs for real-time bird detection in rice fields to increase crop yields.
  • Dr. Ronke Seyi Babatunde (Nigerian Researcher): AI-powered integrated crop management system in Nigeria to address farmers' challenges and increase productivity.
  • Erike, Azubuike Izuchukwu (Nigerian Researcher): Smartphone app integrating AI into agricultural extension services for real-time assistance.
  • Ahmadu Bello University Zaria (Nigerian Researcher): Space-Based AI Solution for Agriculture in Nigeria to monitor soil moisture and enhance productivity.
  • Dr. Yusuf Ibrahim (Nigerian Researcher): Integrated AI-Based Crop Disease Management Solution for smallholder farmers.
  • Muallim Yakubu (Nigerian Researcher): Effective use of AI in improving agricultural productivity and sustainable farming practices.
  • Dr. Olakunle Elijah (Nigerian Researcher): Advanced sensing technologies and machine learning for early disease detection in ginger plants.
  • Godwin Ani / Gwin Technologies Limited (Startup): Smart mobile diagnostic tool using AI for animal health.

Education

  • Data Scientists Network (Technology Company): Evaluation of AI-generated learning content for improved STEM education in low-income households.
  • Edunetix (Startup): AI technology for personalised education and career advice.
  • Bello Abdullahi (Nigerian Researcher): AI-powered voice assistants to enhance language learning and reading assistance in online education.
  • Ibrahim Lukman Kehinde (Nigerian Researcher): Challenges faced by industries in optimising operations and maintenance using AI methods.
  • Segun Oladele (Nigerian Researcher): Smart devices and AI for a personalised intelligence tutoring system in education.

Finance

  • Vergold Nigeria Limited (Nigerian Researcher): AI to add trust to online businesses, especially in social commerce.
  • NaYa Finance Technology Limited (Technology Company): Autonomous Cognitive Entity (ACE) for holistic decision-making in capital markets using generative AI.
  • Lendsqr (Startup): Use of AI and alternative data sources for quick and bias-free credit decisions.

Governance

  • Shamsuddeen Hassan Muhammad (Nigerian Researcher): Advanced language detection models for offensive content in major Nigerian languages on social media.'
  • IDB Analytics (Startup): AI and geofencing technology to address security challenges in regions affected by conflicts.
  • Dr. Israel Udoh (Researcher): Comprehensive mathematical framework for counterterrorism using AI and machine learning.

Sustainability

  • Yusuf Maitama Sule University, Kano (Nigerian Researcher): Integrated smart water solutions using IoT technology and environmental sensor technologies.
  • Dr Aneyo, Idowu (Nigerian Researcher): Low-cost, AI-enabled acoustic monitoring system for water bodies in Nigeria.
  • Shamsudeen Temitope Yekeen (Nigerian in Diaspora Researcher): Integrated Earth Observation Satellite and AI system for rapid detection and response to oil spills.
  • Dr. Sani Muazu (Nigerian in Diaspora Researcher): AI-driven model to optimise urban resource management using machine learning techniques.
  • Dr. Evans Woherem (Nigerian Researcher): AI-driven predictive model and decision support system for forecasting and managing the economic impact of cross-border dam water release in Nigeria.

Utility/IP

  • Centre for Artificial Intelligence (Startup): AI system for assessing vulnerability and providing adaptation solutions to communities facing climate change impacts.
  • Eya Candidus Ugwuoke (Nigerian Researcher): Solar-powered charging stations and rechargeable lanterns with AI-enabled energy monitoring for rural areas.
  • Qudus Onikeku (Nigerian Researcher): Protection of the intellectual property of dancers using AI technology and economic incentives.

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