Sparc Systems’ Mental Lab wins best innovation award at ICTAM awards

Sparc Systems Limited’s innovation of ‘The Mental Lab’ — a mobile e-Health application — has won this year’s Best Innovation Award in e-Health category at the annual Information Communication Technology Association of Malawi (ICTAM) awards that was done in partnership with National Bank of Malawi (NBM).

The innovations awards took place at Sunbird Nkopola Lodge on Saturday last week where the mobile application came out top despite just been launched in August this year.

After presenting the award, John Mitchell — NBM Plc’s head of information technology, organization and methods — appealed on commercial banks and the corporate world to invest in innovations to enhance the country’s socio-economic development.

Sparc went home with a K1 million cheque

He said innovations are critical to the country’s economic productivity, hence the need to promote brilliant knowledge and ideas from people who have such skills.

“Knowledge creates innovations, innovations create productivity and productivity drives economy,” he said. “Therefore, if we want our economy to move forward, our businesses to grow and the country to transform, the best route to take is to support innovations.”

ICTAM president, Bram Fudzulani echoed Mitchell’s words by challenging government to lead the way in investing in local innovations as a way of creating employment opportunities.

“We have been complaining of the tendency of local companies and government agencies in preferring products made abroad but the CoVID-19 pandemic has shown that Malawian ICT developers can be trusted.

“What is required now is for government to support us by way of utilizing our products,” Fudzulani said.

Mental Lab is a mobile application that strives to help improve the mental health status of people across the globe. It has been designed to provide early interventions for mental health issues by digitizing the process of accessing mental health support.

The Application allows users to have access to group chats and also to book sessions with therapists on which they can have a one-on-one voice, video or in person sessions.

The application has been developed in partnership with Caring Hands Malawi — a non-profit organization that promotes mental health awareness and the importance of a healthy mental wellbeing.

On his part, Sparc Systems Managing Director, Wisely Phiri said they have worked on a number of innovations this year working, saying they partnered with Caring Hands after taking cognizance that CoVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues that led to a rise in suicide cases.

“We thought it wise as Sparc System to intervine to show that as Malawians we are capable of developing world class solutions. All we need is support from the industry.

“We have more innovations coming out and your should look out for more,” he said.

The Mental Lab App promotes a culture in which the public should be abreast of the importance of keeping good mental health as it will simulate the automation of processes involved when one seeks mental health therapy.

The App automates the processes of awareness to individuals who are mentally disturbed or who are stressed and anxious, and are seeking therapy to ease their state and also automates the activities involved when individuals are trying to reach out to therapists by providing a feature that will enable them to remotely book therapy sessions.

It minimizes face-to-face interactions in this time of CoVID-19 pandemic as the mobile app provides a user interaction platform feature that will enable them to chat, discuss various mental health issues and interact with each other in a group format.

Sparc Systems — which also operates in Rwanda and Zambia — also launched this an App innovation for academic institutions named the Student Academic Record Information System (SARIS), which is being used by colleges and universities to manage student records and provide management of a 360 degrees view of their institutions.

The SARIS system provides services such as student registration processes, to student time at school up to graduation as well as keeping all this record up to the time a student shall be required to export transcripts of their academic records to prospective employers.

On his part, Public Partnership Commission’s Chief Executive Officer, Patrick Kabambe vowed to continue partnering with organizations that support ICT services.

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