Tech Awards Honors International Innovators Using Technology to Solve Pressing Global Problems

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tech Awards Honors International Innovators Using Technology to Solve Pressing Global Problems


Embrace wins second Laureate Impact Award for low-cost infant warmer; 10 new laureates named in program’s 15th year


September 15, 2015

San Jose, Calif.


The Tech Museum of Innovation announced today that Oakland-based Embrace — the 2012 Tech Awards laureate that makes a low-cost infant warmer used by more than 150,000 premature babies worldwide — has been named the second recipient of the Laureate Impact Award sponsored by PayPal. The award honors past Tech Awards laureates who have demonstrated significant progress toward solving a global problem since winning the prize.

Also today, The Tech Awards — presented by Applied Materials — announced this year’s crop of 10 international laureates using technology to benefit humanity. They include BeeLine Reader of Redwood City, which improves reading fluency and efficiency with a digital tool that guides the eye for online reading; and DayOne Response, based in San Francisco, which offers a lightweight, backpack-sized emergency water purifier system that has provided 7 million liters of clean water to global disaster victims. BeeLine Reader is a laureate in the Microsoft Education Award category, while DayOne is a laureate in the Intel Environment Award category. (See below for the complete list of laureates.)

This year marks the 15th annual gala of The Tech Awards, often referred to as the “Oscars of Silicon Valley.” It will take place onThursday, Nov. 12, 2015, at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center.

The Tech Awards laureates now number 287, and many have achieved global success. Since its inception in 2000, the program has awarded laureates $4.35 million in unrestricted cash prizes. The Laureate Impact Award was given for the first time last year, to Sal Khan of the Khan Academy, for transforming the way people learn all around the world.

“Receiving this award is critical in illustrating our mission to fight infant mortality in the developing world,” said Alejandra Villalobos, Executive Director of Embrace. “The Tech Awards is synonymous with honoring technology benefiting humanity, and that’s why this award is so significant to our greater goal.”

Said Tim Ritchie, President and CEO of The Tech: “Embrace exemplifies everything The Tech Awards program, and The Tech itself, stand for. The people of Embrace were moved to save fragile children from harm, and used simple technology in innovative ways to do so. That’s the kind of thing that happens when people use technology creatively, boldly and wisely. Avoidable problems get solved, bright futures emerge, suffering is reduced, opportunities arise. We hope that the success of Embrace serves as an encouragement and a challenge to other social entrepreneurs.”

Embrace, born in a Stanford classroom, is now operating in 11 countries, including India, Uganda and Afghanistan. Its innovative infant warmer doesn’t require constant electricity and is portable, reusable and affordable. It also has an added benefit: increased bonding between mother and child because of its slim design. It recently merged with the international development nonprofit Thrive Networks; which will allow it to strengthen current program efforts.

The 2015 laureates are being honored in five categories: Intel Environment Award, Microsoft Education Award, Katherine M. Swanson Young Innovator Award, Sobrato Organization Economic Development Award, and Sutter Health Award. Laureates  receive unrestricted cash prizes totaling $500,000 the night of the gala, with each taking home $50,000.

“Applied Materials is proud to support the inspiring work of The Tech Award laureates whose innovations are improving lives around the world,” said Gary Dickerson, President and CEO of Applied Materials. “They share the vision of all of us in Silicon Valley who seek to use technology to make a difference.”

The Tech Awards will also honor John and Tashia Morgridge with the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award. This award honors individuals whose broad vision, philanthropy, and leadership address the world’s most challenging problems. The Morgridges, best known for John’s tenure as head of Cisco, have dedicated their lives to improving education around the world.

The Tech Awards Laureates 2015


Intel Environment Award

DayOne Response

Offers a lightweight, backpack-sized emergency water purifier system that has provided 7 million liters of clean water to global disaster victims.

(WCS) China Wildlife Guardian App

Fights illicit wildlife smuggling via an app for law enforcement officers to quickly identify the legal status of commonly traded species.


Microsoft Education Award

BeeLine Reader

Improves reading fluency and efficiency with a digital tool that guides the eye for online reading.


Provides free, online medical education content to pediatric health care providers and is used by more than 800 hospitals worldwide.


Katherine M. Swanson Young Innovator Award


Produces an inexpensive, networked fire detector for use in South Africa’s urban slums, where blazes are a common and devastating occurrence.


Offers a comfortable $20 brace to treat clubfoot in children in developing countries.


Sobrato Organization Economic Development Award


Offers a simple manual machine for opticians in low-income countries to make high-quality eyeglasses using less than $1 in materials per pair.


Is developing a global addressing system for the 75% of the world’s population without a geographic mailing address, so that all people can receive aid and deliveries.

Sutter Health Award

PrePex ™ (CircMedTech Ltd.)

Produces PrePex, a non-surgical circumcision device used in 12 countries across sub-Saharan Africa to help reduce HIV infection rates.

Nexleaf Analytics

Produces ColdTrace, a remote, cell-phone based temperature monitoring system for vaccine refrigerators to protect the integrity of the inoculants.


Key sponsors supporting The Tech Awards include Applied Materials, Intel, Microsoft, The Sobrato Organization, Sutter Health, Swanson Foundation, PayPal, Qatalyst, Cisco, Seagate, Qualcomm, Bank of America, NASDAQ OMX, Accenture, Broadcom Foundation, Ernst & Young, Gilead, GoDaddy, Google, KPMG, Charmaine & Dan Warmenhoven, Wells Fargo and Xilinx.


About the Tech Museum of Innovation

The Tech is a hands-on technology and science museum for people of all ages and backgrounds. The museum — located in the Capital of Silicon Valley — is a non-profit experiential learning resource established to engage people in exploring and experiencing applied technologies affecting their lives. The Tech’s mission is to inspire the innovator in everyone.


About Applied Materials

Applied Materials (Nasdaq: AMAT) is the global leader in materials engineering solutions for the semiconductor, flat panel display and solar photovoltaic industries. Its technologies help make innovations like smartphones, flat screen TVs and solar panels more affordable and accessible to consumers and businesses around the world. Learn more at


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