NanoseenIn Sopot, Poland, co-founders Bartosz Kruzska and Mikolaj Granuszewski are leading innovations that could change access to clean, drinkable water forever. Startup firm, Nanoseen, is developing the NanoseenX, a water filter made of recycled metal wafers that can desalinate water. The startup, which was ranked as one of the top “15 Chemical Engineering Startups Positioned to Make it Big in 2021” by the Welp Magazine, aims to revolutionize the use and development of nanotechnology to build the most modern products. “Nanoseen is a team of nanotechnology engineers and scientists who prove remarkable properties of NanoseenX nanomaterials as a core component of the company’s products that will help solve many problems related to climate change such as water shortage and plastic pollution,” Kruszka told THEfirstNEWS. The company plans to begin mass production of its water desalination devices in 2021, making it one of the most highly anticipated startups of the upcoming year.

NanoseenX Water Filter

The filter can desalinate both brackish and seawater, giving it the potential to become essential to both disaster relief and combating global poverty. Worldwide, 780 million people do not have access to an improved water source and one in three people do not have access to safe drinking water, making clean water one of the chief obstacles of under-developed nations. Countries like Papua New Guinea, Mozambique, Tanzania and Somalia struggle with clean water but border the oceans so they can benefit greatly from the filter. The provision of clean water will not only improve sanitation but consequently improve health and infant survival rates, which is fundamental to fighting poverty. The product could also aid natural relief teams in tropical countries that are prone to hurricanes and typhoons. For example, crises like the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which cut off access to clean water in Puerto Rico for months, can be resolved. Removing clean water as a pressing concern will also give destitute communities a better opportunity to develop and escape poverty.

Other Innovative Initiatives by Nanoseen

In addition to the water filter, Kruzska elaborates that Nanoseen is tackling research on a method of damaging micro and nano-plastics in water, with the use of NanopowderX. Such development could help clear pollution in oceans, which contain 25-50 trillion macro and microplastics. Being able to filter such microplastics from the water will be the most effective way to curb this new atmospheric pollutant. The team is also pioneering unique paints that will remove pollutants from the air to fight atmospheric pollution, a phenomenon that disproportionately affects impoverished people.

Innovatively Addressing Global Issues

Nanoseen’s ingenious filter is paradigmatic of innovations in STEM creating solutions to global poverty. The startup also offers other eco-friendly and problem-solving materials. The startup’s website offers viewers more in-depth descriptions and applications of its products and states its goals of creating innovative nanomaterials to build modern products that solve the main problems of today’s world.

– Christine Chang
Photo: Flickr

Ukrainian InventionsUkraine is the second poorest country in Europe, with a per capita GDP of less than $3000. Ukraine had a difficult time rebuilding its economy after the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and was left with a crumbling economy due to corruption, poor infrastructure and many other factors. Despite the shortcomings of Ukraine’s economy, it has shown incredible potential for innovation and ingenuity because of the high-tech inventions that have come out of the Ukrainian workforce. Increased investment in Ukrainian inventions would drive it to success and improve the economy by creating stable work conditions. Improving infrastructure and creating sustainable job opportunities would help the economy grow and help Ukraine continue making world-renowned inventions.

5 High-Tech Ukrainian Inventions

  1. Grammarly: Grammarly was founded in Ukraine by Alex Shevchenko and Max Lytvyn in 2009. Grammarly uses AI software to proofread text on sites like Google, LinkedIn, various social media sites and more, while offering grammatical corrections. It is now a U.S.-based company and a widely popular tool for producing academic papers, professional documents and other bodies of text.
  2. Snapchat Filters: Snapchat filters and lenses first came about when Snapchat acquired Ukrainian startup, Looksery. Looksery is a facial recognition software that allows users to put filters on themselves while video chatting. Looksery was bought in 2015, started by a Ukrainian team with Victor Shaburov as the CEO. Snapchat uses the technology to create its filters, one of the many successful and important updates to the social media app. Instagram, another social media app, followed in the footsteps of Snapchat and introduced a version of Instagram photo filters in 2018.
  3. Apps for Deaf People: BeWarned, a Ukrainian-based startup co-founded by Vitaliy Potapchuck, is an application that people who are deaf can download on their phones to help them communicate with others. Potapchuck is also deaf and designed the app to pick up possible dangerous sounds and call for emergency help. BeWarned also makes other software for those who are deaf and hard of hearing.
  4. Virtual Reality Gloves: In 2016, a Ukrainian team of engineers created a prototype virtual reality glove that allows users to “feel” virtual reality items as if they were real. The glove mimics real-life hand motions and is used for a variety of things besides virtual reality gaming. Healthcare professionals can use the glove to study mobility and disease treatments. Co-founder, Denis Pankrushev, wanted the technology to “open new horizons for mankind.” This opened doors for virtual reality innovation and put Ukrainian technology startups in the spotlight.
  5. Uber for Yachts: The company CharterClick was started by three Ukrainian immigrants in Dubai to provide an easy way to rent a boat or luxury yacht for events. The team created CharterClick to show that complicated tasks like renting an expensive cruise with a full crew, can be completed in a short amount of time with just a few clicks. The service operates in more than 40 countries and is dubbed “the world’s most convenient vessel booking service.”

Ukrainian Inventions: Potential for the Economy

Ukraine ranked second place in the Top Three Innovation Economies by lower-middle-income group according to the Global Innovation Index. It is also ranked 45th in the world by the Global Innovation Index. There is massive potential for Ukrainian technology to continue its path of innovation and unlock itself to the European market. International investment can help improve the poor infrastructure that drives creative minds and job opportunities out of the country.

Google Ukraine’s CEO recognizes the brilliant minds of the country, but notes that many of them choose to work in the U.S. because of more “favorable conditions.” Favorable conditions include better infrastructure, better pay and a market that attracts investors. Ukraine is closed off to the international market because of its poor societal conditions, which is detrimental to its working-class and the overall economy.

How Supportive Infrastructure Will Improve the Economy

Ukrainian infrastructure is one of the main reasons that working in the country is difficult. The majority of the roads in Ukraine are too poor to carry cargo and passengers, limiting trades in the country and making it difficult to get to work. Ukraine has set an infrastructure plan for 2030 that includes improvement of all transportation systems with a high price tag. Over the next 10 years, Ukraine requires up to $25 billion of investment to complete the plan as it can only fund $.1.5 billion per year on its own.

Transforming Ukraine: Inventions and Infrastructure

Putting technological growth in the spotlight will attract more investors that want to see the Ukrainian technology sector thrive. Much-needed funding can come from international attention to the infrastructure problem. Improvement will create construction job opportunities and motivate the government to tend to the sectors that are struggling.

Ukrainian inventors should be able to work in their own country without having to migrate to another. Not to mention that infrastructure improvement will help many other citizens easily find work and improve the economy. Ukrainian inventions have the potential to kickstart the country’s economy and help with its development.

– Julia Ditmar
Photo: Flickr

BetterTogether ChallengeSince 2015, roughly five million people have left Venezuela in hopes of finding a better life. This marks the largest displacement of people in the history of the Western Hemisphere. Its economic collapse has rendered the local currency practically worthless and thrown Venezuelans into rampant poverty and hunger. The average Venezuelan lost about 25 pounds of weight in 2017 when 80% of the population lacked reliable access to food. The BetterTogether Challenge aims to support struggling Venezuelans.

The Collapse of the Venezuelan economy

Despite having one of the largest oil reserves in the world, the Venezuelan government’s mismanagement of its resources and economy led to a cataclysmic collapse. When measured by income, 96% of Venezuelans live in poverty and the average citizen lives off a paltry 72 cents a day. The 2019-2020 National Survey of Living Conditions found that 65% of Venezuelans live in multidimensional poverty, an increase of 13% from the previous year. Multidimensional poverty incorporates measurements such as access to health care and education, in addition to income.

A Mass Exodus of Venezuelans

The abject poverty Venezuelans have experienced has led to mass emigration to neighboring countries. Colombia and Peru collectively have had over two million Venezuelan immigrants. The integration of Venezuelans and their culture has been abrasive in countries such as Peru, where negative attitudes persist toward Venezuelans.

The displacement of millions of Venezuelans has disrupted a highly educated generation. A whole 57% of Venezuelans living in Peru have received higher education and roughly 25% have university degrees.

While negative views of Venezuelan immigration have limited the number of incoming Venezuelans, neighboring countries would be wise to recognize the inherent value possessed by the Venezuelan people. The displaced Venezuelans carry massive potential, which if properly harnessed, can have a substantial impact on local economies and innovation. Furthermore, the integration of Venezuelans into the labor markets of their host communities would provide additional cash flow that could boost local economies.

BetterTogether Challenge Empowers Venezuelan Innovation

As a strong and steady champion against poverty, USAID has partnered with the InterAmerican Development Bank to create the BetterTogether Challenge to support Venezuelans. The goal of the challenge is to fund innovative solutions from Venezuelans to support their resilience, test solutions to be integrated and promote communication between Venezuelans and their new communities. In August 2020, the BetterTogether Challenge Award winners in South American countries were collectively awarded $2.97 million.

The BetterTogether Challenge awardees are focused on increasing social cohesion, fighting xenophobia, empowering women, improving employment opportunities and improving access to health care, education and food. These solutions are crucial to rebuilding Venezuela and reducing poverty in their communities.

International Rescue Committee in Colombia

One of the most impactful organizations chosen for funding was the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Colombia. Nearly 1.5 million Venezuelans have found refuge in Colombia, with roughly 35,000 crossing into Colombia daily to purchase supplies. The IRC supports Venezuelans in Colombia by providing safety, access to healthcare and economic assistance while protecting the women and children that may be disproportionately vulnerable. A key initiative launched by the IRC is the Families Make A Difference Program, which provides essential management and support to children who have been harmed and educates families to prevent harm.

Supporting organizations such as the IRC are vital for fortifying Venezuelan resilience and providing people with life-changing resources during times of need. Furthermore, initiatives like the BetterTogether Challenge empower Venezuelans while addressing poverty.

– Adrian Rufo
Photo: Flickr

Using the Internet for DevelopmentIf you are reading this, you are lucky enough to have something that 4.1 billion people go without every day- internet access. And while the internet may be used for a variety of frivolous and silly things like cat videos, memes and gifs, it has also become an indispensable part of daily life in the developed world. The internet also has the potential to drastically improve life for the world’s extreme poor. One study estimated that guaranteeing internet access for everyone would lift 500 million people out of poverty and add over $6 trillion to the global economy. Some people are already taking action. Here are six countries that are using the internet as the most important mean for development.

  1. Colombia.  Thirty-nine percent of Colombia’s citizens live under the poverty line, with the poorest living on under $2 a day. In response, the government has taken steps in using the internet for development by ensuring internet access for 96 percent of this tropical nation’s population. In three years, this infrastructure development raised at least 2.5 million people out of poverty. As the Minister for Technology, Diego Molano, said in an interview with The Guardian: “When we connect, for example, a rural school to Internet, when we connect a small school in the middle of the jungle to Internet, those kids in the middle of nowhere have effectively the same opportunity to access the whole of information society — just like any kid in New York, London or Paris.”
  2. China. While crowdfunding is common in the United States, it is usually not used on a such a wide scale as in China. The Chinese government has recently released an online program called Social Participation in Poverty Alleviation and Development, designed to lift at least 47 million people out of extreme poverty. Essentially, it uses social media platforms such as WeChat to allow normal citizens to help struggling families. At least $3.45 million has been raised for various projects that cover education, agriculture and more important social and economic issues, using the internet as the basis for development.
  3. Kenya. Private industry can make a difference as well. In Kenya, online banking systems such as M-PESA have helped to lift citizens out of poverty. Tavneet Suri, an economist at MIT decided to study the impacts of this phenomenon. She found that for 10 percent of families living on less than $1.25 a day using a mobile banking system was enough to lift them out of extreme poverty. The effect was even more marked amongst women. The mobile system allowed female-led families to save 22 percent more money than before.
  4. Bhutan. The small country of Bhutan located high in the Himalayan mountains has been isolated from the outside world for most of its history. The onset of the digital age changed that. The government has actively encouraged its citizens’ adoption of the internet by moving bureaucratic processes. With the support of the World Bank, information communications technology will continue to expand. In 15 years alone, the number of internet users in Bhutan grew by over 300 thousand.
  5. Rwanda. Though Rwanda may still be known in the international community for its horrific ethnic genocide, in recent years, the country has taken multiple steps towards development. The government has launched an effort called Vision2020 to cultivate an entrepreneurial, tech-savvy middle class. Internet connections are widespread throughout the country and are used for innovative purposes. One philanthropist started the Incike Initiative, an annual crowdfund that provides health care for the survivors of the genocide. Another entrepreneur started a platform called Girl Hub that allows women to give their opinions to local news sources. Rwanda fully utilizes the internet for development.
  6. Peru. With support from the international community, the Peruvian government is making efforts to connect more than 300 thousand people in rural areas to the national electric grid and, through this, to the internet as well. This connection has wider implications, especially for education. Students in these isolated areas can now be exposed to ideas in the wider world. This encourages engagement. A teacher in one of these villages, Teresa Uribe says that the kids now want to learn more, thanks to the technology.

These stories show the power of the internet to enact positive change in the developing world. If you too are interested in using the internet for development, take this opportunity to email your representatives about anti-poverty legislation. The internet’s potential should not go wasted.

– Lydia Cardwell
Photo: Flickr

Local, Sustainable SolutionsThe Equator Initiative, an organization dedicated to encouraging communities to envision creative, local, sustainable solutions to problems, recently announced the winners of the 2017 Equator Prize.

The 15 winners include grassroots projects located across Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and Southeast Asia. They range from a campaign to secure management of a community Mangrove forest in Thailand to the Mali Elephant Project, which protects endangered elephants while working to reduce violence in a war-torn area of Mali.

However, these 15 winners are only the beginning. Across the globe, communities have created local, sustainable solutions to preserve their homelands. These solutions also help feed and educate children and promote peace and justice in their society.

In celebration of its 15th anniversary, the Equator Initiative launched a database that includes 500 of the local, sustainable solutions nominated to receive the 2017 Equator Prize. Here are seven of the most creative and impactful initiatives that local people developed in answer to the challenges they face:

  1. Whales of Guerrero Research Project: The Whales of Guerrero Research Project (WGRP) started in a small fishing village in Mexico in 2013 to increase local interest in protecting the endangered humpback whales. The project teaches children ages 9-13 about marine life and lets them adopt and name whales. It also created an extensive whale-spotting network and runs a program that pairs high school students in Mexico and the U.S. for scientific projects. The WGRP hopes that these workshops will strengthen the community’s pride in the natural environment and inspire them to make choices that will protect the local marine life. The project also advocates that tourist whale watching may become an important source of revenue in a place where the fishing industry has suffered.
  2. Barefoot Solar Initiative: The Barefoot Solar Initiative works to provide lighting systems that run on solar energy to people in rural villages in India. Since its founding in 1972, the Initiative has illuminated more than 15,000 homes. The new lighting improves air quality, saves money and enables children to study longer in the evenings. The initiative also teaches women how to construct and manage the solar equipment for the homes in their village, giving them a valuable skill set. The organization recently announced a new program that is providing solar lighting to many of the Pacific Island nations.
  3. The Nubian Vault Association (AVN): The AVN builds environmentally friendly homes in Burkina Faso that are inspired by the techniques of the ancient Nubians. The houses are built from sun-dried mud bricks, which are sturdy and emit less carbon than the iron roofing sheets traditionally used. The houses have thermal insulation, so they stay cool during the day and warm in the evenings. By teaching farmers how to build these homes, the AVN also created a new economic activity that helps them earn income during the dry season.
  4. Elevated Honey Co.: This initiative aims to bring economic growth and care for the environment to the mountainous areas of Southwest China through beekeeping. The villagers work with Apis cerana, the honey bee native to their region, using traditional beekeeping methods as a way of sustaining both their environment and their culture. The honey made from this bee is lucrative, worth up to 8 times as much as that of European honeybees.
  5. Comuna Ancestral Las Tunas: This project, established in 1998, helps a community in Ecuador receive the numerous benefits of recycling. Children become empowered to make a difference in their communities as they earn money collecting plastic water bottles. The number of tourists in the area increased by 15 percent, a result of the now clean beaches, and the community is watching over two species of sea turtles. Women are able to turn the plastic bottles into crafts and earn money.
  6. Abolhassani Indigenous Nomadic Tribal Confederacy: In an area of Iran that is rich with diverse animals and plants, the Confederacy developed local, sustainable solutions for coping with drought and sustaining both livestock and crops. Two of these are the revival of the hanar system, which conserves water by giving the animals water only once every two days, and feeding the animals with crops rather than natural vegetation, allowing the land to recover. The Confederacy shares its innovations with other tribes in the area.
  7. Nakau programme: Loru Community Conservation Project: Founded in 2011, this program established a legally protected patch of rain forest on the Pacific Island nation of Vanuatu. The indigenous landowners are able to sell conservation credits, or tax credits for donors, as well as market agricultural products of the rain forest (i.e., certain types of nuts). The project meets several of the Sustainable Development Goals that were a key criteria for the 2017 Equator Prize.

The winners of 2017 Equator Prize have received more than a reward. They have created local, sustainable solutions that have transformed their community. Consequently, their successes can serve as examples and inspiration for future projects.

Emilia Otte

Photo: Google

Africa Technology: 10 Technological Innovations from AfricaIn recent years, the African Union has concentrated on better ways that to solve local problems. Facing a lot of challenges, the continent is raising a generation of innovators who are making a big investment in Africa technology development taking a creative approach and non-standard thinking. Here are 10 examples of technological innovations coming out of African countries.

9 Technological Innovations from Africa

  1. Mellowcabs: Mellowcab is a fully electric vehicle that provides public transportation in urban areas. Developed in South Africa, Mellowcabs are eco-friendly and carbon-neutral. The cabs use kinetic energy to power the vehicle, on-board tablet computers, use hydrogen fuel cell technology, and are made out of recycled materials. The rides are free; the company relies on an advertisement placed in the cab. Mellowcabs developers helped to reduce traffic in urban areas and successfully tied into the transport infrastructure.
  2. Jumia: Jumia launched in Nigeria in 2012. The largest e-commerce retailer in the country works with 16 African countries and sells anything from electronics to clothes and home goods. Initially starting with three employees, Jumia presently has a staff of 1,000 young and entrepreneurial Nigerians. Jumia set-up the first e-commerce academy in Nigeria, the Jumia Academy, building young entrepreneurs pioneering various aspects of business in Nigeria.
  3. is a critical education startup in Africa, utilising the recent development of mobile industry, SMS-based programs are a good way to engages learners outside the classroom, to reinforce in-classroom learning. The process is easy: teachers record a lecture or quiz, upload it to the site where pupils can access the information with a code. First launched in Zimbabwe, opens up an opportunity for everyone who wants to learn.
  4. Obami: Obami is a South Africa-based social learning platform, where students can get news from schools and groups and submit school work. Launched in 2007, the technology is currently used by about 400 organizations across Africa. The cloud-hosted platform is easily accessible from the web or, importantly, from mobile. The mobile app, Obami Tutor, focuses on private tutoring. Barbara Mallinson, Obami’s founder, is one of the leading female entrepreneurs in South Africa.
  5. M-PESA: M-PESA is a mobile-based money transfer application, which allows users to store money on mobile accounts and make simple transfers via SMS messaging. Customers can deposit and withdraw money from a large network of agents, charging its users a small fee for sending and withdrawing transactions. Since its creation in 2007, M-PESA expanded as far as Afghanistan, India and Albania. This app moves an entire third of the Kenyan GDP among its 15 million mostly rural users.
  6. Charging Shoes: One extraordinary method to charge a mobile phone while walking is to use ultra-thin chips of crystal inserted into the sole of a shoe. Invented by Anthony Mutua from Kenya, technology generates electricity through the pressure exerted when it is stepped on.
  7. Sleep Out: Sleep Out is a website for adventurers and travelers who are looking for accommodation in Africa. Launched in 2011 in Kenya, the online portal became popular very quick. Today it covers hotels, hostels, B&Bs and private hosts from all over the continent. It allows users to pay directly to the host via mobile, cash, card or transfer.
  8. The Kenya Open Data Initiative: A portal to fuel new enterprises and apps. Most important, it makes government data freely available to the Kenyan public. The technological initiative was claimed to improve governance and constitutional groundwork on information access.
  9. Ushahidi: This app was developed after 2008 post-election violence outbreak to create a map reflecting data of violent acts in the country. Ushahidi offers products that enable local observers to submit reports using their mobile phones or the internet, while simultaneously creating a temporary geospatial archive of events.

Right now the continent’s technological development is going through a creative phase. This evolution will continue to empower Africa’s technology markets, people and potential in meaningful ways, taking the continent into the digitized era.

Yana Emets

Photo: Flickr

Ampion Venture Bus, a Pan-African entrepreneurship initiative, helps develop tech entrepreneurs in a unique way — a bus road trip across different parts of Africa. The bus journey enables tech experts with dreams to solidify their startup ideas into real business projects.

Entrepreneurs board the Ampion bus with an idea. On the five to seven day bus journey, the entrepreneurs interact directly with their target users. They also fine-tune their initial idea, launch and pitch it to potential investors. On the bus, the entrepreneurs learn from each other and receive advice from mentors.

The Ampion bus stops at innovation hubs along the road. The end of the five to seven day trip is planned to coincide with a regional tech event, in which the entrepreneurs who just finished perfecting their idea can pitch to more investors.

The Ampion Venture Bus trip is unique because the bus drives through rural areas. Many startups in Africa focus solely on issues in large urban metropolitan areas, and popular startup events usually occur in big cities.

“In Nairobi, for example, you might have a start-up event every other week. But we drive to rural areas, go to places where we are often the first organization ever to organize an entrepreneurship event,” explained Fabian-Carlos Guhl, CEO of Ampion.

At the end of the road trip, the most promising, successful startups join the Ampion Fellowship. This is an incubation program that provides a startup with funding, office space and mentoring.

The best of the Ampion Fellows receive a trip to Germany in order to modify their businesses even further and to meet with more potential investors.

“Travelling on the bus helps the teams to work closely together. In agriculture, for example, we go to farms, talk to farmers and see what challenges they face – and then our local and international teams try to develop solutions that suit them.”

Each trip, the Ampion bus carries 200 promising young entrepreneurs in five buses, divided into categories of interest. The company aims for females to account for 50 percent of bus-goers.

So far, over 30 successful startups have begun due to the Ampion Venture Bus program. Startups have provided innovative solutions to issues in “health care, citizen engagement, education, public transport, sanitation and tourism,” according to How We Made it in Africa.

One successful startup born of the Ampion bus is Based in Zimbabwe, the startup provides users with tools to coordinate and manage funerals.

Another startup is MobiDawa, located in Kenya. The program reminds patients to take medicine at the correct times, provides instructions on how to take medicine and warns them of possible side-effects.

“We want to identify start-ups that have potential to change the face of Africa, and ideally also globally. We want to foster technology that can disrupt an entire industry and generate profit, but also make social sense. We look for brilliant people… we look at their ideas, the quality of their education, their past entrepreneurial projects and their motivation. We certainly won’t accept someone who says ‘I don’t care about sustainability, I just want to get rich as soon as possible’” said Guhl.

– Margaret Anderson

Sources: How We Made It In Africa, Ampion
Photo: Flickr

In 2013, Gregor Schaper, a German entrepreneur, installed a series of circular solar panels in a town just outside of Mexico City. This is the home of Schaper’s Solar Reflector.

The Solar Reflector is comprised of solar panels that follow the course of the sun throughout the day to maximize absorption while focusing its light on one point throughout the year. This is similar to when a kid tries to use a magnifying glass to start a fire. The heat is collected as the Solar Reflector follows the sun and is then projected onto one specific spot in a kitchen.

This specific spot can reach up to 1000° Celsius, making it useful for baking, cooking and frying. The temperature is kept consistent with an integrated stone core in the kitchen. The Solar Reflector itself is made up of steel sections with highly reflective aluminum, cut into a 170-square-foot disks.

Trinysol, the company Schaper founded, manufactures the panels and cost about $4,000 to built. Despite the cost, once the Solar Reflector is built, it is free to operate and produces no greenhouse gas emissions. On average, each reflector saves 16 gallons of gas each month.

For small to medium sized businesses, this technology could be game changing. For small restaurants, bakeries and tortillerias, it could save money when the price of fossil fuels is high, creatubg jobs all the while. In addition, since the Solar Reflector projects the light right into their kitchen, it saves people from from going outside and braving the heat during the exceptionally hot summer days.

“Tortillería La Fe” in El Sauz near Mexico City was one of the first small businesses to use Schaper’s Solar Reflector. According to Schaper, the shop used to spend over $1,000 a month on gas in order to cook tortillas but now gets it for free with the Solar Reflector. The initial cost of the Solar Reflector is significant but the outcome is worthwhile.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Empowering People, Future Challenges, Inhabit, Venture Beat
Photo: Inhabitat

Eden Full was 19-years-old when she dropped out of Princeton University to turn her high school science project into a global technology innovation. She created the SunSaluter, a solar panel rotator designed to collect energy and produce four liters of clean drinking water at the same time.

The SunSaluter is a low-cost solar panel placed on a single axis that rotates towards the sun. The solar panel is mounted on a rotating frame, with a weight suspended from one end, and a specially designed water clock suspended on the other. As the sun rises, the water clock is heated, which forces the water to empty through a purifier and into a container. This process produces four liters of clean drinking water each day.

The rotation is a passive movement that increases the efficiency of the solar panels by 30 percent. The SunSaluter is built using low-tech tools and materials, making it a perfect fit for the developing world.

Not only does the SunSaluter produce more energy that most solar panels because of it’s rotation, it also saves time and energy for those who use it, who otherwise would spend time collecting wood or spending money on gas and electricity. It provides families with electricity and clean water, providing them with resources they did not previously have access.

In 2012, Full installed the first SunSaluters in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. In an interview with Triple Pundit, she explains the value of the simplicity of the SunSaltuer. “A lot of the people, mostly women, who gather the water and who would be maintaining these devices, have never gone to school. So it’s very important to actually go out into the field to figure out what kind of technology is needed to match that lifestyle.”

However, the SunSaluter is still a work in progress. Full is working on a business strategy to fund the production, as well as to maximize the efficiency of the product itself. Full is bright and determined, and is pushing for success of the SunSaluter.

Hannah Resnick

Sources: Business Insider, Clean Technica, SunSaluter, Triple Pundit
Photo: Flickr

vaccinesEven in this day and age of technology, there are roughly 1.5 million children who die every year from vaccine-preventable diseases. One of the main reasons is the lack of reliable electricity in developing countries. What if there was a way to keep life-saving vaccines at a cool temperature in places of extremely warm temperatures with no reliable power for months?

This is the challenge Bill Gates presented to Nathan Myhrvold. The result was a thermos model device that looks like a keg and can be easily transported on a motorcycle. Arktek, the Passive Vaccine Storage Device, uses regular ice water and no power, keeping vaccines at a temperature just above freezing for months.

Arktek has just one small battery for the display screen at the top, which has a built-in cell phone to send text messages to alert others if, for example, you are running low on ice. The device was tested in up to 110 degrees Fahrenheit, where it can last 6 to 8 weeks. In a cooler area, it can last for months.

Well, how this is possible, you may ask?

Arktek uses super insulation, similar to what is used for cryogenic fluids, at very low temperatures and to protect spacecraft from extreme temperatures.

The device has already saved millions of lives. It was used in West Africa to transport the experimental Ebola vaccine during the recent outbreak. According to Bill Gates, the current vaccine-preventable disease to focus on is polio, which the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation hopes to eradicate by 2018. Once polio is conquered, the next vaccine-preventable disease would be malaria.

The device is also practical in countries with reliable power, such as the United States, for the transportation of organs. Currently, organs are transported in hand-held coolers that do not last long very long. Myhrvold states the example that if the organs are not transported within a certain amount of time they will go bad in the current device used. That is when Arktek comes in handy, as a superior alternative method for transporting organs.

Arktek has received awards and recognition for its innovative technology. These include the 2014 Good Design Award in the Humanitarian Category from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture & Design and the 2014 ViE Award for the best technological development.

Arktek is the result of Intellectual Ventures’ Global Good Program and Intellectual Ventures Lab. The innovative company is owned by Nathan Myhrvold, former Chief Information Officer at Microsoft. Intellectual Ventures has partnered with AUCMA, China’s largest refrigeration manufacturer, to help distribute these devices to remote areas. This is a partnership that will save millions of lives from vaccine-preventable diseases and potentially result in a healthier future for the world’s poor.

Paula Acevedo

Sources: CNN Videos, Intellectual Ventures
Photo: Fast Company