Press release: Vodafone Americas Foundation Reveals Winners of 10th Annual Wireless Innovation Project

Thursday, June 7, 2018

The Vodafone Americas Foundation, at the Social Innovation Summit 2018 in San Francisco, unveiled today the winners of its 10th annual Wireless Innovation Project (WIP), a competition awarding $600,000 in grants to the latest connected innovations designed to address critical issues facing the global community. Point-of-care platform SMART will receive the $300,000 first place prize for its remote diagnostic testing targeting sickle cell disease and malaria. cerVIA, a cervical cancer screening tool, will claim the $200,000 second place prize. ENVision Mobile, a business management application that helps financially illiterate micro-entrepreneurs, will receive the $100,000 third-place prize.

In its 10th year of competition, the Vodafone Americas Foundation WIP has now awarded $6.1 million in grants to entrepreneurs, startups, non-government organizations (NGOs), nonprofits and university projects building scalable, social good technologies focused on “Connecting for Good.” SMART, cerVIA and ENVision Mobile will join the previous 27 WIP winners who have directly affected more than 40 million lives across 40 different countries. Past WIP winners have gone on to future success through international accolades, various industry prizes and more than $9.5 million in additional funding.

“Since its launch in 2009, the Wireless Innovation Project has built a strong network of inspiring entrepreneurs developing technologies that positively impact communities around the world,” said Andrew Morawski, Board of Directors Chairman and President, Vodafone Americas Foundation. “We view SMART, cerVIA and ENVision Mobile as great additions to the WIP community and look forward to helping them bring their innovative solutions to market to help solve critical issues such as disease and financial illiteracy.”

SMART, cerVIA and ENVIsion were chosen from eight finalists announced in April. Each winner explains their innovation in a video available here: Their solutions represent the highest potential to tackle long-standing social challenges worldwide and create lasting change.

  • First Place (US $300,000) – SMART (Sickle and Malaria Accurate Remote Testing) is an integrated point-of care technology platform with electronic health record systems proposed by Case Western Reserve University in conjunction with Hemex Health, University of Nebraska Medical Center, and eHealth Africa. The platform diagnoses, tracks and monitors sickle cell disease (SCD) and malaria patients in low resource communities. It is estimated that SCD affects nearly 25 million people globally, and 50 to 80 percent of infants born with SCD in Africa die before age 51 while 3.4 billion people are at risk of malaria, with 212 million cases and 429,000 deaths occurring annually.2 The SMART system utilizes two novel integrated SCD and malaria diagnostic devices and will provide affordable remote testing for these diseases and help facilitate local and national responses to epidemics.
  • Second Place (US $200,000) – cerVIA is an affordable, accurate and accessible cervical cancer screening tool that improves screening accuracy through simple imaging and machine learning via an Android device. An estimated 266,000 women die3 every year from cervical cancer. More than 85 percent3 live in developing countries, where quality screening opportunities are lacking. The innovation will allow healthcare workers and doctors to easily validate their screenings and detect early warning signs or indications of cervical cancer, which routinely go undiagnosed in developing countries.
  • Third Place (US $100,000) – ENVision Mobile is a simple and intuitive accounting and business management application for financially illiterate micro-entrepreneurs, optimizing operation in hard-to-reach environments and poor data areas where people do not have access to banks. More than 2.5 billion adults globally only deal in cash4 due to ineffective access to formal financial services, which limits the opportunity for financial growth or investments. This mobile tool helps micro-finance institutions assess, manage and track portfolio performance, thereby extending financial inclusion for the underserved.

“With the grants awarded through the Wireless Innovation Project and the mentoring each winner will gain access to via Vodafone, we’re excited about the potential each of our winners could have in the global community,” said June Sugiyama, Director, Vodafone Americas Foundation. “Disease and financial illiteracy are two critical issues we regularly see affecting developing countries, and by putting powerful solutions in the hands of individuals via mobile technology, we believe true impact can be made. We’re honored to recognize another group of potentially game-changing solutions for the 10th year in a row.”

Each awarded grant will be issued over the course of three years. In addition to grant funds, WIP recipients receive support and guidance to advance their solutions to reach the global marketplace. Vodafone brings technical expertise, partnerships and global reach that accelerate mobile innovations to deliver wider social impact than they could achieve alone.

Photo courtesy of Highways England.

Source: Press release (link opens in a new window)

Finance, Health Care, Technology
financial inclusion, global development, social enterprise