University of Massachusetts - Lowell, 2009 - $44,625
This grant addresses the issue of designing and developing environmentally and culturally appropriate housing for Native Americans on reservations. Many people living on reservations have no electricity or running water, and use outhouses. Typical development approaches ignore their traditional housing practices (separate structures for cooking and sleeping) and are not welcomed by residents.
In collaboration with the Tohono O’odham Reservation in Arizona and Tohono O'odham Community College (TOCC), University of Massachusetts Lowell students have been designing and prototyping green housing innovations for several years. They have designed a modular green house made up of the three traditional separate structures (living/sleeping, kitchen, and bathroom modules). The house is made primarily with indigenous materials but also incorporates green building strategies such as passive solar cooling and heating, solar hot water, straw bale insulation, solar cookers, windmill water pumping, composting toilets, and more.
This grant extends the collaboration to develop business plans for an enterprise based around the technologies, as well as further designing and prototyping.
In developing countries, especially post-war countries such as Vietnam, Korea, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Laos, Iraq, and Haiti, amputees cannot afford the high price of prostheses, which ranges from $500 to several thousand dollars. This team is designing a new prosthetic socket—the Mercer Universal Socket, or MUS—that is cheaper and takes less time to fit to the amputee, helping reduce overall cost.
The MUS is designed for adults and has small, medium and large sizes. Inside the socket, three silicon rings minimize pressure at the distal stump and help prevent pressure ulcers from forming. The cost per unit is estimated at $20, with manufacturing and distribution taking place in Vietnam through the Mercer on Mission program.
There is a gap in the world today between people with access to digital and information technology (in developed countries) and those without (in developing countries). Connectivity has been an issue in the developing world for a number of reasons, including unfavorable government policies, corruption, illiteracy and computer illiteracy, lack of infrastructure, and cultural norms. Generic solutions to these problems tend not to work well; solutions need to be scalable, inter-operable, replicable, and flexible enough to allow the inclusion of scenario-specific details.
In order to overcome the lack of connectivity in developing regions, this team proposes to develop MyMANET, a software framework for MANETs (Mobile Ad-hoc NETworks), which are infrastructure-less wireless networks that can cover a few kilometers in diameter. Every consumer device in a MANET (a cell phone, a PC) acts as a host and router at the same time, bringing flexibility and robustness to the network, without the need for infrastructure such as towers or base stations. Both capital and recurrent costs are low, making MyMANET a plausible proposition for connectivity in developing areas.
If left untreated, neonatal jaundice can cause kernicterus, a form of brain damage with complications including deafness, cerebral palsy, and death. In the US, phototherapy treatment (shining wavelength-specific light on the baby) has virtually eliminated kernicterus, but in developing countries like India only a small segment of the population has access to effective treatment.
In order to improve patient access to neonatal jaundice treatment in rural Indian clinics, this team - working with the non-profit technology incubator, Design Revolution - is developing a low cost, low maintenance opto-medical device. Instead of using fluorescent tube or compact fluorescent bulbs, the team’s device uses more efficient, high-intensity blue LEDs that can be supported by a battery backup.
Brilliance in India: New deal allows Bay-area firm to fight neonatal jaundice in rural India - Fast Company (Jan 2011)
September 2012: Brilliance is on the market in India and they are looking to expand to East Africa. The team estimates that 13 babies per device per month will get treatment in urban hospitals, which means lives saved and brain damage averted.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2009 - $46,200
Cycle Ventures, one of nine “D-Lab” classes at MIT, has a specific focus on creating pedal-powered innovations for international development. The Rickshaw Bank (TRB), formed in 2004, is a micro-credit organization in India that lets people lease-to-own rickshaws, usually in one to two years. This grant will fund a partnership between Cycle Ventures and TRB, with the goal of making TRB’s rickshaws cheaper, easier for the driver to pedal, and more attractive to customers. The team has identified three technical areas to focus on: the overall rickshaw structure; adding a suspension element to the frame; and improving the drive train. Over the course of two years the team will conduct overlapping waves of site visits, design, prototyping, and implementation.
Student entrepreneurs in Colorado State University’s Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise program build sustainable ventures with a focus on an integrated bottom line. But, since these types of ventures can require a lot of time to develop before securing financial support, several of the program’s ventures have ceased to exist due to financial, time and other development pressures. In order to help sustainability-focused student ventures actually become successful businesses or organizations as students complete their studies, this grant will help launch the Sustainable Venture Accelerator (SVA) at Colorado State University. SVA’s three main objectives are to: engage outside specialists as Entrepreneurs in Residence to mentor SVA businesses; develop a network to help advance ventures; and provide space and resources. The long-term goal is for SVA to be sustained by taking equity interest in the student start-ups it supports.
Accessing quality health care in rugged, mountainous areas like the communities surrounding Waslala, Nicaragua is a difficult challenge. About 10,000 people live in the town of Waslala itself, while 35,000 live in the 85 isolated rural communities surrounding it. While the town has a small hospital with full-time staff, residents of the rural areas can obtain health care only at clinic outposts from lay health workers with minimal experience and few supplies. If there is an emergency, the hospital is hours away on poor roads.
In order to make quality health care more accessible in the Waslala region, this team of students and faculty is developing cell phone-based technology for transmitting basic patient data in the form of coded text messaging from a rural health care worker to a central clinic for a trained health care provider to review. The doctor or nurse can then text back treatment suggestions for the health care worker to implement.
As the December deadline for Advanced E-Team and Course & Program grants rapidly approaches, we've interviewed Grants Manager Jennifer Keller Jackson on the common mistakes made when submitting grant proposals. Each of these podcasts is just a couple minutes. Worth a listen if you plan to submit a proposal!
GlobalResolve (GR) is a program at Arizona State that starts village-based ventures in developing countries by introducing sustainable technologies that address economic and health issues. One of those technologies is the Twig Light, a low-cost, sustainable light source. It consists of a wafer-type thermoelectric generator sandwiched between the upper and lower portions of a small box. The upper section is a small combustion chamber in which the user puts small pieces of wood (twigs) to be burned. The lower section sits on the ground or in a few centimeters of water. When the burning wood heats the upper chamber, the temperature difference between the two sections powers the thermoelectric generator, which powers the lights.
An alpha prototype has been developed and tested. With NCIIA funding the team will refine the Twig Light design, test it again, and distribute twenty prototypes to villages in Malawi and Ghana where they’ve worked previously. After a year of field testing they’ll interview villagers about the light, develop a final design, and establish manufacturing capability and supply chains in Malawi and Ghana.
In 2010, the Twig Light team established a company, Daylight Solutions, LLC. Ghanaian partners include one company (Amstar Inc.), an NGO (The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, CEESD) and Nana Afaokwa, the paramount chief of the Domeabra region in Ghana.
The students in Ghana have formed an NGO (The Center for Energy, Environment and Sustainable Development, CEESD)
The project is moving from the research phase into a venture with the Ghanaian partners. The first 100 commercial prototypes will be manufactured in the US to perfect the process, possibly this year, in a manufacturing cell consisting of micro-CNC equipment. This cell will either be shipped to Ghana or replicated in that country. The initial manufacturing location will be in Domeabra, a village near Kumasi. Plans are to expand to Cameroon and Kenya in a year.