Low Tech Yields High Returns in Solving Sustainability Issues

Published: November 1st, 2012

By Rolf Huber

High technology can only go so far in resolving the social, health and structural problems that individuals and communities are faced with across the globe, and that’s why the Siemens Stiftung’s “empowering people. Award” aims to get back to the basics. Throughout the world, according to the World Health Organization, 884 million people still lack access to clean water —and 3.41 million die each year from causes related to water, sanitation, and hygiene.

The “empowering people. Award” is calling for inventors, developers, students, and other individuals and teams anywhere in the world to submit simple technological solutions that address sustainability issues that can be implemented in developing countries. The goal of the competition is to make uncomplicated solutions for sustainability issues accessible to individuals and communities in a way that generates a positive, long-term global impact.

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Between now and the end of this year, the Siemens Stiftung will accept submissions in six categories:

  • Water and wastewater treatment
  • Energy, food and agriculture
  • Waste management and recycling
  • Housing and construction
  • Healthcare
  • Information and communication technology

The individual or team earning first prize will receive the equivalent of €50,000 in an appropriate currency. Second prize is €30,000 and third place will be awarded €20,000. Twenty runners-up will each receive €5,000.

Innovators and teams will retain the intellectual property rights to their projects, but the entries will be showcased in a long-term knowledge database designed to connect brilliant minds in businesses, universities, research organizations, and other groups with public and private-sector organizations that can help apply their solutions to some of our world’s most troublesome problems.

The database will be available online at www.empowering-people-award.siemens-stiftung.org as soon as the competition is closed and entries have been evaluated by a renowned international jury of experts from the fields of commerce, science and developmental cooperation. Members of the jury will be judging the entries on the following criteria:

  • The enterprise develops solutions or products that have the potential of social impact for people in developing and emerging countries.
  • The solutions or products are already successfully implemented to improve basic supply in developing or emerging countries.
  • The enterprise has a strong focus on job creation.
  • The enterprise follows such values as fairness, social responsibility and self-sustainability.

Cooperation partners include KfW Business Area Development Bank, the Helmholtz Association and UN-Habitat. Their skills and experience help to create a network for the direct implementation of the technical solutions entered in this competition.

Have a project or idea you’d like to submit? Visit: www.empowering-people-award.siemens-stiftung.org/award-registration.

You can also join the conversation by following the “empowering people. Award” on Twitter and Facebook.

Contributed by: Rolf Huber, managing director of Siemens Stiftung


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. The foundation was established in 2008 and cooperates with the other five Siemens foundations established by the company in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, France and the U.S. The project work of the foundation is concentrated on the focus regions Africa, Latin America and Germany/Europe.

For more information on the Siemens Stiftung, please visit: www.siemens-stiftung.org

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