India-focused Projects Win Top Prizes at the 2012 Dell Social Innovation Challenge
Dell India (Business Wire India)
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
-- First prize winner, “Essmart Global”, helps shop owners in rural India source and distribute life-changing technologies
-- Second prize winner, “The Humanure Power Project”, aims to provide sanitation and electricity to rural India by building community toilets and harnessing human waste to produce methane
Young social innovators convened in Austin, Texas, last week as part of the Dell Social Innovation Challenge (DSIC), where Essmart Global was announced as the winner of the $50,000 Grand Prize. Essmart Global was selected from five teams for the prize, which recognizes undergraduate and graduate students who envision, create and implement social innovation projects that help communities around the world.
The grand prize winner, Essmart Global gives retail shop owners in rural India access to products that help improve their customers’ lives by combining process innovations in sourcing high-quality technologies and distributing them to rural areas. If the project is scaled successfully, nearly 10 million mom-and-pop retail shop owners could gain knowledge about new technologies and an additional higher-margin revenue stream. Prashanth Venkataramana, a mechanical engineer from Chennai, India, who is currently studying Engineering for Sustainable Development at the University of Cambridge, is a member of the winning team.
The second prize of $30,000 was won by “The Humanure Power Project” (HPP) which aims to provide sanitation and electricity to rural India by building community toilets and harnessing human waste to produce methane and electricity that can be distributed to the community via 12-V batteries. HPP has been working in the village of Sukhpur, located in the Supaul district of Bihar, to provide adequate sanitation infrastructure and generate electricity. Anoop Jain, a student of Tulane University, who has worked in rural India over the years with a vision to provide better sanitation facilities in the country, is one of the members of the HPP team.
The DSIC identifies and supports promising young social innovators who dedicate themselves to solving the world's most pressing problems with their transformative ideas. Introduced in 2007 by the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, the Challenge provides students with world-class teaching and training, as well as start-up capital and access to a network of mentors and advisers. Entries were judged on three primary criteria: clarity of the innovation and significance of social impacts potentials; demonstration of a high probability of success; and potential impact from winning DSIC. In 2012, the challenge received nearly 1,800 entries from more than 105 countries.
The five finalists traveled to Austin, Texas to participate in a Finalist Weekend full of networking and mentoring with social innovation leaders. They pitched their ideas to a panel of judges comprising business leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and a winner was selected following the pitches.
“Through innovation and action, young people are addressing the world's most pressing human issues by turning their passion into real solutions,” said Suzi Sosa, DSIC Executive Director and Associate Director, RGK Center at The University of Texas at Austin. “DSIC is on the leading edge of this effort; we bring together some of the world’s best and brightest students who are united by the common goal of social change. We are thrilled to partner with Dell in assisting some of these young entrepreneurs, who we know will truly change the world.”
The 2012 Challenge presented 27 awards, including more than $145,000 in cash prizes and more than $160,000 worth of in-kind prizes. With plans to grow to 20,000 entries each year by 2016, the DSIC promises to become the largest and most prestigious global competition for student social entrepreneurs.
Dell's support for the Challenge includes tools and technology, experience and expertise, and funding. The company became the competition's title sponsor in 2008; at the close of the 2011 Challenge, Dell announced a $5 million grant, distributed over five years, to expand the Challenge's efforts worldwide and support its goal of engaging more students per year. This year, more than 600 Dell employees volunteered to participate in the Challenge as both judges and mentors.
"We aim to create a movement and understanding that innovation and entrepreneurship are not 'born' but really can be 'bred' through the right community, support, tools and inspiration," said Trisa Thompson, Dell's Vice President of Corporate Responsibility. "Our company was founded in a dorm room, and we continue to encourage students to think big and bring ideas to life that can change the world."
The other three 2012 finalists included:
-- e-Education in 5 Continents: e-Education in 5 Continents seeks to apply the e-learning system, a system that uses DVD as media to bring best teacher resources to remote and poor areas, to under-developed regions to help local students get the best education and get well-prepared for university entry exams.
-- Nanoly: Nanoly's technology enables cheap, convenient, and safe delivery of vaccines to anywhere in the world with improved storage and transportation without refrigeration. Nanoly plan to make vaccines accessible to anyone in the world, particularly those who live in hard-to-reach areas.
-- 33 Buckets: Using the latest technology, 33 Buckets has designed a filter that can provide a girls' school in rural Bangladesh with arsenic-free water that they can sell to the community in a sustainable microfinance business.
About Dell Social Innovation Challenge
The Dell Social Innovation Challenge (DSIC) identifies and supports promising young social innovators who dedicate themselves to solving the world's most pressing problems with their transformative ideas. DSIC, which is the flagship social entrepreneurship initiative of the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin, provides university students with world-class teaching and training, as well as with start-up capital and access to a network of mentors and advisors. For more information, visit www.dellchallenge.org.
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