Latest News & Events

Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) wins tender for research on ‘Social Tech Ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa’ by British funders Comic Relief, Indigo Trust and Nominet Trust

28th November 2016

The Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI) is delighted to announce that it has been commissioned to produce an ambitious piece of research on ‘Social Tech Ecosystems in sub-Saharan Africa,’ by a partnership of three key foundations making grants in the fields of social tech and international development: Comic Relief, Indigo Trust and Nominet Trust.


This major project will be supervised by Prof. Chris Csikszentmihalyi, a European Research Area Chair who has championed the field of tech and social innovation for twenty years. He will be leading an international team including expert researchers from Uganda, Zimbabwe, Jamaica, Europe and North America. “M-ITI has responded to this call because of an imperative: our team has a deep desire to foster sustainable innovation in sub-Saharan Africa (sSA), but equally deep reservations about many of the innovation narratives being pushed onto the continent. We look forward to finding successful local initiatives from which to build a fruitful theory and practice of sSA-appropriate models of innovation.”


Anne Radl, Programme Development Manager at Nominet Trust, who is coordinating this project on behalf of the three funders, said: “Comic Relief, Indigo Trust and Nominet Trust are excited to embark on this rich and varied research journey with M-ITI. The scope of the research is ambitious – but it is proportionate with the huge value that will come from understanding what sustains social tech innovations across sub-Saharan Africa and allows them to thrive. We look forward to being challenged on how to support social tech ecosystems to be robust and resilient, and to reflect new insights back on the social tech ecosystem in the UK.”

This major study will span the next five months and will cover Anglophone, Francophone and Lusophone Africa in order to reflect the diversity of the continent. The methodology will involve both hands-on field work in six sub-Saharan African countries and an in-depth review of existing practices of social tech in the entire region through a peer nomination approach.

The process will be documented ‘in real time’ through a blog that will be created specifically for the project, featuring interviews, videos and analyses as the research progresses, as well as the final report when completed in April 2017.


The final report, an open source database and an interactive map of innovation actors in the region, will be disseminated to policy makers and funders of social tech and innovation in sub-Saharan Africa to foster better informed investment in social tech.


Findings from this research will also be presented at “Strategic Narratives of Technology and Africa”, a major international conference hosted at M-ITI and scheduled for September 2017, which will bring top African scholars, cultural producers, and entrepreneurs together to present and reimagine socio-technical possibilities in Africa.

This research has been commissioned by Comic Relief, Indigo Trust and Nominet Trust.


About the Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (M-ITI):

The Madeira Interactive Technologies Institute (Madeira-ITI) is a not-for-profit innovation of the University of Madeira, founded by the University of Madeira, Madeira Tecnopolo, and Carnegie Mellon University. The institute was created in December 2009 in order to provide a home for the numerous collaborations between these partners, in both research and education. M-iti operates in the interdisciplinary domain of Human- Computer Interaction (HCI), encapsulating contributions from the disciplines of computer science, psychology and social sciences, and design, with the goal of engaging in important scientific and technological challenges.

About Comic Relief

Comic Relief is a UK charity which aims to create a just world, free from poverty - where everyone is safe, healthy, educated and empowered. Since 1985, Comic Relief has raised over £1 billion. That money has helped, and is helping, people living incredibly tough lives, both at home in the UK and across the world.

Comic Relief, registered charity 326568 (England/Wales); SC039730 (Scotland)

About Indigo Trust

The Indigo Trust is a UK based foundation which funds projects and organisations in Sub-Saharan Africa that leverage the power of mobile and web technologies, to foster active, informed citizens and accountable governments. 

Indigo supports civic tech communities and innovation hubs that use digital technologies for positive social change, in order to grow and strengthen the social tech sector in countries across Africa.  They also provide small and high-risk grants to early stage projects to stimulate innovative approaches to tackling social challenges.  They offer their grantees tailored, bespoke support and access to a wider network to amplify their impact and strengthen their organisations.  They also support wider sector initiatives and shared learning in the social technology sector.

About Nominet Trust

Nominet Trust is the UK’s leading social tech funder. It provides 100 per cent grant funding, mentoring and business support to organisations using the internet and digital technology to address significant social challenges including health and wellbeing, economic empowerment and sustainability. Since 2009, Nominet Trust has invested more than £25m in projects harnessing technology to deliver real social change. Through partnerships and campaigns such as the inspirational NT100, Nominet Trust mobilises new approaches that will influence and accelerate the use of tech for social good.

Nominet Trust was founded in 2008 by Nominet.

Nominet is a public benefit company, with 20 years’ experience running the .UK internet infrastructure.  Building on that expertise, Nominet is actively involved in connecting devices as well as people, helping people be safe and networks stay secure, and supporting the next generation of ideas and talent.  With the proceeds of its successful registry business, Nominet set up and funds Nominet Trust, its charitable foundation.

Contact in Portugal: Elise Leclerc, M-ITI Executive Director: +351 961 343 496



Looking for more news?