Social Business Finalists Unveiled in the Siemens Stiftung ‘Empowering People’ Award

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Press Release

The Siemens Stiftung organized an international competition to find simple but intelligent technological solutions with the capacity to sustainably improve the lives of people in developing countries. The international jury will announce the top three winners at the Award Ceremony in Nairobi. They will receive prize money of 100,000 EUR in total. From now until October 21st, anyone can take part in the online voting and choose their personal favourite for the special community prize. As a next step, an online platform will be developed to bring together inventors and users of the technical solutions and put them into contact with potential investors and multipliers. The Siemens Stiftung and its cooperation partners will take an active role in this venture.

The criteria used by the international jury of experts to evaluate over 800 submissions from 90 countries were not only technical quality and environmental aspects but also the economic and social potential of the respective inventions.

“The entries on our shortlist illustrate in an impressive manner how simple technical solutions can dramatically change living conditions for the better. They provide access to water, energy, health, education and communication in a practicable and cost-efficient manner. They also create opportunities for the establishment of small businesses, new ways of generating income and improvements in daily life”, explains Rolf Huber, Managing Director of the Siemens Stiftung. “We will therefore support the further development of selected technical solutions and we hope that partners from around the world will join us in this initiative.”

The Siemens Stiftung is currently setting up a database in which all the submitted technological solutions which have been classified by experts as best-practice solutions will be published. Developers and users of interesting products and solutions as well as potential investors and development organizations are to benefit from this database by receiving information about useful applications and technical possibilities as well as about varied experiences in implementation on site.

Rolf Huber: “We are convinced that transparency, partnership-based collaboration and knowledge transfer are key requirements for a targeted improvement of living conditions. By launching the “empowering people. Award”, we have already been able to set up a network connecting interested persons around the world with important players in development cooperation to form an active community. Everyone can cast a vote online for the community prize as of now.”

The Prize Winners will be honoured at the Award Ceremony, which will be held in Nairobi on October 30st 2013. The first three winners will receive 50,000, 30,000 and 20,000 Euros respectively. 20 further finalists will each receive 5,000 Euros each.

As part of the Award Ceremony, a workshop will be held together with the Social Impact Development Group, an initiative of the Siemens Stiftung and Ashoka. In this workshop, the inventors will have the opportunity to discuss their inventions with social entrepreneurs and to further develop their own business approaches.

A vote can now be cast for the community prize at The winner will receive freely selectable technical equipment to the value of 3,000 Euros for his or her project.

The finalists are as follows:

BioGas Backpack
Portable biogas container. The backpack is suitable for transporting biogas, for example, from central biogas production facilities into households or for sales purposes. The backpack is a balloon with inner layers of gas-tight material and is filled by means of simple pressure equalization. The backpack currently costs 12.25 Euros.

ElectroChemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR)
Water purification. Here, an electrolysis process is used to extract toxic arsenic (III) from drinking water. This process converts arsenic (III) into arsenic (IV) ions which can be reliably filtered from the water. The energy requirement is approx. 0.05 kWh per cubic metre of water.

Water distillation with solar energy. Developed for the water requirements of households, the water distiller makes it possible to purify brackish and salt water. All parts can be manufactured by hand from clay and metal; filters are not required. The costs of the prototype are approx. 75 USD.

Fish Farm
Micro-intensive fish farming for food security. The tanks, filters and pumps required for the fish farming are housed in a shipping container only twelve metres in length. This makes the system cost-effective; it is mobile, takes up little space and meets commercial requirements. Produces up to four tonnes of fish a year.

Jompy Water Boiler
All in one system: energy efficiency during cooking and water disinfection. Attached between the pots and the cooking area on an open fire, the water purifier makes it possible to heat water whilst cooking. The temperature reached destroys 98 percent of harmful germs. The costs of 30 USD are redeemed through saved fuel.

Leveraged freedom chair
All-terrain wheelchair. Consisting of bicycle parts, the wheelchair is driven via levers. Instead of dérailleur gears, which are temperamental on difficult terrain, the user achieves a 3:1 gear ratio just by moving the levers.

MakaPads – Sanitary Pads
Sanitary napkins help women and create jobs. The production from papyrus fibres, paper and water hardly needs any electrical energy. The heat of the sun takes care of the drying process; smoothing and compressing are carried out mechanically. The inserts are 75% cheaper than normal sanitary napkins and 100% biodegradable.

Mapeo de Napas con Georadar – Soil Research
Georadar for determining the groundwater table. The soil is examined with electromagnetic waves and a digital recording device at a depth of four to ten metres for water, salt, stone courses etc. Helps to safeguard crop yields irrespective of rainfall where groundwater can be accessed.

Mobile Solar Cellphone Charger
Mobile charging station. Folding solar modules (20 watt) are constructed with a lithium battery and charging units in such a way that they can be taken, for example, as a bicycle trailer to mobile phone users who do not have reliable access to electricity. Use as a franchise system is possible.

A small but useful invention for hand pumps. Consisting of food-grade plastic, the funnel can be installed during the production of the pumps or retrofitted. It prevents the wastage of precious drinking water, which is often up to 30%, and contamination due to unhygienic external funnels. The costs are around 10 USD.

ReMotion Knee
Polycentric knee prosthesis on a polymer basis. Designed for conditions in developing countries, the prosthesis makes it possible, for example, to work in the fields in kneeling or squatting positions. It is suitable for mass production, and its price of 80 USD is 10% of that of comparable prostheses.

River Ice – Cooling System
Cooling system with flowing water. A turbine in the river is connected directly to an open chiller, which cools durable polyethylene bags. The bags are filled with filtered water which freezes to ice and can be used, for example, to store fish or medicines. The costs are around 33% compared to conventional methods.

ROTOR – Swimming Power Plant
Swimming power plant. The kinetic energy of flowing water runs an electromechanical energy converter for the production of electricity, which is consequently always available even without storage. The simple design from universally available materials keeps costs low.

Score-Stove™ 2
Power generation during cooking. The stove is fired with wood or biomass, and the warm air flow is converted into acoustic vibrations by using thermoacoustic pipes. A linear generator converts these vibrations into electricity. An additional benefit is that no toxic fumes are generated during cooking.

SimGas Gesi-Shamba rural biogas digester
Ready-to-use system for the production of biogas. Made from polyethylene components (HDPE), the system is not only inexpensive, but also mobile and variable in size. Suitable for households in very remote regions for converting organic waste into biogas, which can be used, for example, for cooking.

SMSGYAN – Information & Communication
Internet-based information offline via SMS. Mobile phone owners without Internet access send their enquiry via SMS to a central number. The system checks the WorldWideWeb for appropriate information and returns relevant results in a reduced format via SMS. One enquiry costs 1 euro-cent; the monthly flat rate is 0.30 Euros.

Solar Reflectors (Scheffler)

Cooking with solar energy. A parabolic mirror rotates by means of a sensor-controlled motor around an axis parallel to the earth’s axis synchronous with the sun. The concentrated light produces temperatures of up to 1000°C and can be used for operating stoves and ovens in bakeries or small restaurants.

Electricity for remote regions. The modular, individually configurable kiosk system includes a lightweight, easy to transport aluminium frame as well as a solar panel (1 kWp) and the associated equipment. The kiosks are erected where electricity is needed, for example, for charging batteries or running the radio and TV etc. Additional kiosks for hairdressers, banks or telecom shops can be added.

Sun Saluter – Solar Tracking & Water Filtration
Solar tracking for small panels. The rotation is achieved by modifying weights on the panel sides; a water drop system takes care of this. In addition, the water is purified into drinking water by means of a sand filter. Secures up to 40% more energy than static panels.

Thermpod Infant Warmer
Alternative incubator. To ensure that prematurely born babies do not die of hypothermia when an incubator is not available, a type of “sleeping bag” has been designed here. Thanks to the thermal pads, which can be reused up to 50 times, it maintains the required temperature for up to six hours at a time.

About the Siemens Stiftung

ENCOURAGE. empowering people. The Siemens Stiftung wants to empower people to actively address today’s social challenges and is dedicated to the values of Werner von Siemens. Together with partners, the foundation designs and implements local and international projects with the aim of promoting individual responsibility and self-initiative. The foundation is committed to enlarging basic services and social entrepreneurship, promoting education and strengthening culture. The Siemens Stiftung pursues an integrative approach and stands for responsible, impact-oriented and innovative project work.

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