Julia Tran

$50,000 prizes, 25 Laureates, 1 Bill Gates

Ah, the Tech Museum Awards. It was a night when large tech companies and foundations joined together to support the work of smaller humanitarian tech innovators.

Last Wednesday, Intel, Accenture, Microsoft, Agilent, and the Swanson Foundation recognized the work of 25 organizations through the annual Tech Museum Awards, organized by the Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA. Each of the Award Laureates have invented new technologies and applications to deal with issues from clean water to special education, to the ergonomics of traditional backstrap weaving. Bill Gates was also on hand to receive the Global Humanitarian Award for the work he has done through the Gates Foundation.

Five of the 25 Laureates received $50,000 prizes to further their work. Most notable from a BOP entrepreneurial viewpoint were projects by the Centre for Development of Disadvantaged People (CDDP), and Sumitomo Chemical Company.

The CDDP has developed a water filtration and bottling process that can produce clean water at the cost of $1 per 225 L, per filtration unit. In comparison, large companies sell the same amount of bottled water for about $75. The target user audience for these filtration units is women’s self-help groups, which are able to acquire the units at a cost of $400 per unit installation.

The Sumitomo Chemical Company has developed a washable bednet with a slow-release mosquito repellent effective for a minimum of five years, targeted at rural, low-income communities vulnerable to malaria. The product sounds similar to the bednets developed by A to Z Textiles and the PermaNet by Vestergaard-Frandsen.

Though the other winning innovations have varying degrees of applicability to development contexts, all demonstrate the hard work and ingenuity that are key to solving the world’s problems. Take a look see at this year’s list of Laureates. The Awards are also accepting nominations for next year if you know of a deserving innovator (profit, non-profit, or individual).