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29 May, 2019 - 15:27 By Kate Sweeney

Global challenge to unearth sustainability innovations

Global Manufacturing and Industrialisation Summit

Cambridge University’s Institute for Manufacturing is hosting the finals of the Global Maker Challenge – a competition to find innovators and makers with solutions to some of the world’s most pressing sustainability problems. The June 4 event will feature a panel of sustainability experts from Cambridge.

The panellists from the University of Cambridge include Professor Sir Mike Gregory, former head of the Institute for Manufacturing; Dr Shailaja Fennell from the Centre for Development Studies; and Howard Griffiths from the Department for Plant Sciences. 

It also includes Justin Highstead from Gatsby Africa, Belinda Bell from Cambridge Social Ventures and Dr Lara Allen from Cambridge-based Centre for Global Equality.

More than 1,100 entries were submitted from entrepreneurs around the world from over 80 countries including the UK. 

Lourens Boot
Lourens Boot, CEO of Sponsh, a finalist in the Rural Transformation & Zero Hunger category

Four main categories include sustainable cities, sustainable energy, rural transformation and zero hunger, and digital literacy – seeking innovations which address the global issues identified in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

The Global Maker Challenge is organised by The Mohammed bin Rashid Initiative for Global Prosperity, in partnership with eight United Nations agencies. 

The winner of the Global Maker Challenge will be chosen at the Cambridge event and announced in a ceremony in Yekaterinburg in Russia in July. Here are the finalists in categories.

Theme: Sustainable Cities
Challenge: How can cities leverage technology to reduce the spread of infectious diseases and prevent the next pandemic? Finalists include:-

  • Urban platform for infectious disease reporting: E25Bio is a mobile phone application used to detect and report some of the most dangerous and transmissible viruses.
  • Affordable water disinfecting nano-silver paper filters: The Folia Filter is an antimicrobial filter paper that does not require electricity, and contain silver nanoparticles that kill bacteria and viruses.
  • GARV Toilets: GARV Toilets provides Smart Sanitation Solutions to underserved communities in urban and peri-urban areas in developing countries.
  • Ada Health: Ada Health uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help individuals assess medical symptoms and share the results with healthcare professionals.

Theme: Sustainable Energy
Challenge: How do the millions of people living in rural and isolated communities get access to low carbon energy? Finalists include:-

  • A2P Energy Solution: A2P collects paddy straw during harvesting in balled form, then processes it into renewable energy products such as pellets.
  • Wave2O Clean Energy From Ocean Waves: Wave2O is a wave-driven seawater desalination system designed to provide clean water to millions in coastal communities.
  • Eco Friendly Char-Briquettes for Clean Cooking: Char-Briquettes are a more sustainable alternative to traditional charcoal for cooking purposes produced by recycling biomass waste.
  • OffGridBox – Village Shop: Village Shop provides rural communities with electricity and drinking water at far lower cost than more polluting sources.

Theme: Digital Divide & Digital Literacy
Challenge: How can people in remote areas access and use reliable and affordable internet connectivity? Finalists include:-

  • Changing Lives Through Affordable Internet: Poa Smart Towers are based on low cost WiFi technology and radically change the cost of delivering internet access in rural areas.
  • The Rumie Initiative: The Rumie Initiative uses innovative technology to deliver online learning resources to communities with limited or no internet connectivity.
  • Digital Access through Renewable Technology (DART): BuffaloGrid (BG) has developed a scalable network of solar powered smartphone Hubs that deliver phone charging and internet services for off-grid regions.
  • Gram Marg Solution for Sustainable Rural Connectivity in India: Gram Marg is a low-cost, affordable solution capable of operating within the TV band to provide rural broadband services.

Theme: Rural Transformation & Zero Hunger
Challenge: How can farmers in less developed countries increase food and cash crop yields through advanced methods of sustainable agricultural production and preservation? Finalists include:-

  • Inga Alley Cropping for Sustainable Farming: Inga Alley Cropping uses nitrogen-fixing tree species to regenerate land and transform the lives of subsistence farming families.
  • TruTrade: Connecting Smallholder Farmers to Buyers: TruTrade uses an innovative web and mobile enabled platform to integrate smallholder farmers into sustainable markets in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Safi Sarvi: Decentralising High-Yield Fertiliser Production: Safi Sarvi improves harvest yield and income by up to 30% for the same cost farmers pay for fertiliser inputs.
  • Sponsh: Water From Air Without Energy: Sponsh is a tempera ture-sensitive smart textile that produces water from air, helping to address water shortage in dry, coastal areas.

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