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Dr. David Moinina Sengeh’s journey at MIT began as a graduate student developing prosthetic interfaces. In 2018, after being appointed the first Chief Innovation Officer of Sierra Leone, he joined the MIT Solve community as a judge for the Community-Driven Innovation Challenge. Today, he is serving as a judge for this year’s Equitable Classrooms Challenge, and is the newest addition to Solve’s group of advisors.
With a strong passion for innovation, Sengeh believes that even the largest global challenges have solutions, and it is up to us to create, find, and scale them.
“It’s about redirecting the money and the resources that are there now to supporting the people who are doing, who are coding, who are Solver teams,” Sengeh said.
Sengeh’s work lies in creating technology that will improve healthcare and education systems, especially in Africa, and has earned multiple accolades for his work, including Forbes 30 Under 30 in Technology, Senior TED Fellow, Obama Foundation Leaders: Africa Fellow, and WEF Young Global Leader. Now leading Sierra Leone’s Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI), his goal is to turn his home country into a center for innovation.
“The vision for DSTI is two-fold: to help support the government with its national development plan, and to create an innovation and entrepreneurial ecosystem in Sierra Leone,” Sengeh said. “There are three ingredients necessary for innovating within government: an authorizing environment that prioritizes innovation, a broad spectrum of creatives who have the willingness and technical expertise to tackle these innovations, and the resources to support these innovators.”
One of Sengeh’s prominent innovative works was developed during his time at the MIT Media Lab while completing his Ph.D. in biomedical engineering, where he spearheaded a project on prosthetic technology. The project was sparked after seeing the demand for and lack of proper prostheses in Sierra Leone as more than 8,000 people lost their limbs in the country’s civil war at the turn of the century. His creation of more personalized, comfortable prosthetic limbs earned him the Lemelson-MIT National Collegiate Student Prize in 2014.
After graduating from MIT, Sengeh went on to become a researcher at IBM in Nairobi. There, he focused on the intersection of artificial intelligence and healthcare systems and implemented solutions for the prevention and management of diseases.
Sengeh also co-founded his own NGO in 2008 based in Sierra Leone called Global Minimum Inc. His organization aims to empower youth innovators through innovation challenges and the creation of labs as learning spaces for these youth.
“We need to expand the set of possibilities in the realm of problem-solving in order to innovate and be creative,” he said.
Currently, as a Solve advisor, Sengeh will help guide Solve's model and mission along with other leaders in international business, technological innovation, and philanthropy. More specifically, for this Challenge cycle, he will amplify the conversation around increasing access to education for young learners by supporting the most promising solutions for the Equitable Classrooms Challenge.
Learn more about the Challenge here and apply by June 16 for a chance to access over $2M in funding.