Q&A for Up Accelerate Program

This section seeks to explain the terms & conditions for Up Accelerate. It also answers some of the more frequently asked questions we receive.


What is the “Up Accelerate” program?

The Up Accelerate program is a one-year initiative that seeks to source for innovative solutions to health challenges in Uganda. By tapping into networks of young entrepreneurs and providing them with seed funding, mentorship and technical support, Up Accelerate aims to develop market ready, scalable and sustainable solutions in the area of sexual and reproductive health.

What challenges is Up Accelerate focusing on?

Two (2) challenges are defined for this acceleration cycle. These are the same challenges our first call for applications was focused on. We have made them easier to understand. They are:

  • How might we improve demand and access to essential maternal health medicines & supplies in Uganda?
  • How might we improve the use of data in healthcare planning, monitoring and delivery?


Who selects the challenges for each acceleration cycle?

The challenges for each acceleration cycle are validated using a comprehensive methodology. This process includes an evaluation of the various bottlenecks and challenges listed in UNFPA program reports. The challenges are compiled in a document, which is the subject of discussion and further validation at workshops and bilateral meetings with UNFPA program staff, key stakeholders from Government, Civil Society Organizations, Non-Governmental Organizations and private sector players.


What are essential maternal medicines and health supplies?

Essential medicines, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) are “those drugs and supplies that satisfy the health care needs of the majority of the population; they should therefore be available at all times in adequate amounts and in appropriate dosage forms, at a price the community can afford.” Each country defines a list of essential medicines and health supplies. The focus in this program is on those required in maternal health.


What data are you talking about?

We are talking about data from traditional and non-traditional sources. Examples include: data from surveys, health programme data published in newspapers showing the local health center IVs in the country, the amounts of money distributed by Government to public health facilities, a list of medicines that have been distributed by Government to public health facilities, etc; social media data, radio and TV data, GPS records etc.

The data can be closed or open data. Government is a great source of open data but not the only one.


What is open data?

Open data is data that can be freely used, re-used and distributed by anyone – subject only at most to the requirement of attribute and share alike.


Are essential maternal medicines and health supplies; and data use really the most pressing challenges faced by Uganda in the area of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)?

After the validation process, improving data usage and access to essential maternal medicines and health supplies came out as some of the most pressing challenges faced by Uganda in the area of SRHR. An important factor for selecting these areas for the acceleration cycles was that they were as well suited for innovative solutions.


Who came up with the Up Accelerate program? Has it been done in other countries?

The Up Accelerate program is the Ugandan pilot of the regional UNFPA Innovation Accelerator.

The Innovation Accelerator is an initiative and model led by the UNFPA East and Southern Regional Office (ESARO) with aims to explore new and engaging ways to tackle pressing SRH challenges in the region while promoting socio-economic participation, social entrepreneurship and empowerment of young people. The regional program, and its country pilots, is being funded by UK Aid.

The program was first launched in Kenya in 2015 under the I.AM campaign, implemented by NaiLab, a Kenyan startup accelerator.


Who are the stakeholders involved?

The Up Accelerate initiative is implemented in Uganda by UNFPA country office under the guidance of UNFPA East and Southern Regional Office (ESARO). It is implemented by Outbox and funded with UK aid from the UK government with support from the Ministry of Information Technology and National Guidance.


What is Outbox’s role in the Up Accelerate program?

Outbox is the UNFPA implementing partner for the Up Accelerate program. Outbox’s role as implementing partner involves developing, hosting and executing the initiative.


Who will choose the winners in each Up Accelerate program cycle?

Winners will be selected by a panel of independent judges based on the selection criteria developed by Outbox. The criteria is defined in the terms and conditions of the program. Early submission of your application into the program and acting on feedback will count towards your final score.


Who will own the intellectual property rights for the innovation solutions developed through Up Accelerate?

The participants in the Up Accelerate program will own the rights to the solutions they develop. However, we encourage you to publish the copyright under an open source license


What about copyright? Must my project use open-source software?

Our preference is for open source or creative commons approaches, but they are not an absolute requirement.  You can still retain the copyright to your works, but release it under an open source license while allowing others to license it under your terms. We also accept proposals that are proprietary. Proprietary projects will, however, need to make a compelling case for other forms of public good to win support from Up Accelerate. You can learn more about open source  here. You can also find frequently asked questions on open source here. To learn more on how to retain copyright under your open source license, you can view this article here 


What do you really mean by “open source”?

The term “open source” refers to something people can modify and share because its design is publicly accessible.

The term originated in the context of software development to designate a specific approach to creating computer programs. Today, however, “open source” designates a broader set of values—what we call “the open source way.” Open source projects, products, or initiatives embrace and celebrate principles of open exchange, collaborative participation, rapid prototyping, transparency, meritocracy, and community-oriented development.

You will own your product, but you will have to share the software you develop under a GNU General Public License (GPL) and any documents, manuals or instructions under Creative Commons licensing.  We consider exceptions to these requirements on a case-by-case basis.


How can I protect my brilliant idea? Can someone “steal” it?

That could happen. We find that the value of being open about your idea outweighs the drawbacks.


How can I claim a piece of someone else’s prize if I give them the idea that propels their project to win?

When you comment on an entry, do so with the understanding that you are not creating any ownership rights for yourself.


Does being open source mean my software is free?

No, it is a misconception about what open source implies. You can charge money for open source work you create or contribute to. In the case of software development, an open source license may require you to release source code when you sell it to others. As such, some programmers find that charging money for software services and support (rather than the software itself) is more lucrative.


Is Up Accelerate focusing on app development?

No, the Up Accelerate program seeks to foster a wide range of innovative solutions to existing SRH bottlenecks in Uganda, not only apps. Young innovators can submit any solutions they deem effective to address the challenge areas proposed for each of the acceleration cycles. Solutions can span from new ways of sharing information with beneficiaries to collaborative systems for drug distribution among many others. The call for applications targets any entrepreneurial young person in Uganda that has a good idea about how to address the proposed challenges, not just software developers or online solutions.


Who can participate in the Up Accelerate program?

The program is open to any youth born or resident in Uganda between the ages of 18 and 30 years.


I am not a software developer, but I think I have a great submission to make. Can I enter?

Yes, the project has to be addressing health issues in the challenges listed. We have however found that project success is derived from diverse teams. As such, you will want to build a team with diverse skillsets that can range from health to technology.


I own an NGO that addresses sexual reproductive health issues, can I apply?

Yes, however, we are interested in supporting entrepreneurial ventures and not NGOs. As such, your submission should be creating a new entrepreneurial approach to your work, under a social enterprise business model. Your work should be pushing for a product/service and not an intervention.


What about projects focused on training?

Up Accelerate will not fund trainings or conferences. A project that includes a component of the plan may win, but not if training is the core focus of the project.


What about an informational tool or awareness building project – say one about disseminating sexual reproductive health information – would it qualify?

Yes, but only if it demonstrates an entrepreneurial path using new strategies or technologies. We want to move just beyond informing, but to thinking creatively about building entrepreneurial ventures too.


What is the processing of applying?

Any interested young person meeting the participation requirements can apply online by visiting www.upaccelerate.co.ug and submitting their idea. We will not accept faxes, posted applications, hand deliveries or other channels. Thirty (30) teams will be selected to participate in a public voting exercise, and ten (10) among them will thereafter be selected to participate in a pitch day in front of a panel of judges. Four (4) winners will be selected following the pitch day to participate in the acceleration phase that readies the innovative solutions to go to market.

Any supporting media, videos, links to prototypes, etc, can be included with the post, but are not required.


When is the deadline for submissions

The deadline for submissions is May 5th, 2017 (midnight – East African Time).  No late submissions will be accepted.


What if I don’t want my idea to be public?

We believe that ideas get better when they are publicly available for discussion and feedback. Innovators who engage with the wider community and prove widespread support for their ideas through public discussion will be at an advantage during judging.  However, we understand that you might have competitive concerns and will therefore accept “closed” applications.  If you are prepared to lose points during judging by keeping your application closed, please reach out to us on upaccelerate@outbox.co.ug so that we can “close” your submission to the public.


How important are public comments?

Because this is a program focused on developing ‘real world’ solutions to real challenges faced in the health sector, we strongly encourage you to engage in conversation with others about your idea.  We believe such discussions benefit both the public viewers and the applicants.  In evaluating your ability to conduct your project, we will also look at your ability to encourage support for, and critiques of, your idea on the Up Accelerate website and elsewhere online.


What kind of financial and technical support will Up Accelerate provide to the young innovators?

Up Accelerate will provide seed funding of up to USD $10,000 per winning team and will match participants with top industry experts who can help them develop core skills as well as evaluate and bring to market their ideas for innovative ventures. The seed-funding provided will support the teams build their capabilities, test their ideas and go to market. As such, it will be released to teams based on pre-agreed milestones.


What aspects of a project’s budget can be funded by an Up Accelerate grant?

Up Accelerate grants are meant to fund the costs associated with designing, developing and implementing your idea.  A portion of Up Accelerate grants can also be used to fund marketing and promotion of your prototypes, or help you deploy the first versions of your idea. Up Accelerate funds will not be used to pay “overhead” costs, any core salary costs, or organisation costs not directly linked to the development of your idea.


What about projects/startups that already exist? Would you fund the expansion of an existing, successful project?

Yes, if you would like funding to prove your concept and scale up to other localities. We would very much support you.


How many times can I enter?

You can enter as many times as you like. The exception is if you are a participant in the on-going first acceleration cycle, your application will not be considered.

What kind of supporting materials should I attach?

The supporting materials or attachments should be any documents you think would add valuable information about your project that reviewers can use to better understand how your idea meets the Up Accelerate criteria. You can provide documents that range from something as simple as your logo, to more complex supporting materials including business plans and working prototypes of your projects. While this material is helpful, it is not mandatory.


What file formats do you accept as supporting documents?

File uploads can be one of the following:

  • Photo: JPEG, GIF, PNG of 10MB maximum size
  • Audio: MP3 Maximum size 10MB
  • Word documents: PDF, DOCX, DOC, TXT of maximum size 10MB


How can I improve the chances of my application being successful?

State the essence of your idea briefly and clearly.

Ask someone who is not familiar with your project to review your application for clarity.

Make sure your application fits within at least one of the themes outlined on the Up Accelerate home page.

Submit early and encourage others to engage with and discuss your idea online. Request for feedback and act on it.


The challenges selected for the program are quite technical. How will you ensure the young innovators are conversant with them to develop solutions that address real problems?

We have a lot of faith in the potential of the youth and we know that there is a lot of talent and expertise among young entrepreneurs in Uganda. Possible contributions or solutions are listed under each of the challenges to help guide the entrepreneurs, as we do not expect all the entrepreneurs interested in Up Accelerate to be totally conversant with areas of SRHR and health.  There are opportunities for entrepreneurs to build or improve on existing innovative efforts in the challenge areas. We shall offer the necessary guidance to the winning entrepreneurs regarding all phases of the solution including seed funding, partnership with government and key stakeholders, mentors and building overall skills for business.


Given the current national controversy on sexuality education, to what extent will Up Accelerate provide information on sexual and reproductive health and rights to young people?

Up Accelerate will not provide any content that is not in line with the information provided by the Government of Uganda. Up Accelerate will provide information on sexual and reproductive health in relation to the challenges being addressed. Our focus will be on communicating the challenges faced by young people with regards to SRH.


Why do you target young people to come up with Sexual Reproductive Health innovations?

Up Accelerate is targeting young people in Uganda because they make up for the largest section of the population. As such, they are most affected by the challenges that we seek to address. We believe they are in a better position to propose solutions to the challenges they experience.

More to that, we believe the project has the potential to address the youth unemployment issue through the promotion of social entrepreneurship among the young people.


I am not online; how do I get involved in the challenge

We have a number of avenues to get involved in the challenge. One is through the physical boot camps that we are hosting at various public universities and at Outbox. We are also utilizing radio, TV and newspapers as part of our communications strategy.

You can drop into our office or call at +25639200152 to inquire more about the program and ask any questions that you might have.

Submissions MUST strictly be done online.


I am based out of Kampala, will I be able to participate in the program

Yes, the program will take into consideration teams that will have to travel to attend the program. As such, the programming will be flexible to allow for upcountry participants.


What will happen if all the solutions proposed to the Up Accelerate program are of insufficient quality?

As previously mentioned, we have strong faith in the potential of youth, the expertise and talent among young entrepreneurs in Uganda.  Up Accelerate provides the necessary support to ensure quality and upscaling of the innovative idea submitted by entrepreneurs through constant feedback and refinement. There is therefore little fear that all solutions proposed will be of insufficient quality.


What will you do if more than 4 solutions per cycle are worth supporting?

Unfortunately, we can only take in four (4) solutions per cycle. However, if you are not accepted into the program, please keep improving your idea and sharing updates with us.


Will the selected teams have enough time to get their solutions market-ready in only 4 months?

We provide the necessary training and partnership for solutions to scale up significantly in 4 months. However, the mentorship for the solutions extends the 4 months, and for each individual solution a comprehensive business plan including a timeline for the innovation will be designed.


What do you hope to achieve with this program?

Through the Up Accelerate program, we seek to support social entrepreneurship as a source of innovative solutions in sexual and reproductive health, and at the end of the program it will have developed eight start-up companies (4 per cycle) that have prototypes and have launched to market.

We expect Up Accelerate to have great impact, both in the area of improving access to supplies and contributing to the open data revolution in Uganda.


How will you make sure the program supports impactful innovations, and not just eight more apps in a country with limited internet and smart phone connectivity?

The program has a selection criterion that includes impact of an innovation. Here, we seek to better understand the reach and affordability that a given innovation will provide in the market. Furthermore, the acceleration period is meant to fine-tune and refine innovations so that they can scale


If Ugandan Ministries and Government Agencies would like to take up and implement any of the solutions developed through Up Accelerate to benefit all Ugandans, will they have to pay for the rights to use the solutions?

This depends. If your solution is open source, then they can reuse it under the license and copyright terms you indicate in the solution. If your solution is proprietary, then that is a decision left to the Innovator and other third parties. However, the innovator is not barred from holding the intellectual property (copyright, patents, trademarks, trade secrets) to their work during the acceleration program. But in most cases, we might require you to share your product under the General Public licenses or creative commons licenses.


How does this program support the Ugandan Government priorities or Strategies?

To improve healthcare and enhance the quality of and access to health services in Uganda is an overall priority for the government in Uganda. A key strategy for several of the government agencies and ministries (including the ministry of ICT, the ministry of health and Uganda Communications Commission) is to contribute to the strengthening of a culture of creativity and analytical thinking in young people to improve health care.


What if this FAQ did not answer my questions?

You can please visit and download the detailed terms and conditions here. You can also reach out to us by inboxing us on Facebook