Recipient Institution: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Principal Investigator: Kathy Chen
Grant Amount: $10,000
Faculty will bring together the currently separate Engineers Without Borders Club and the Cal Poly Entrepreneurship Club through a one-credit course. Students from both clubs will form teams to build transdisciplinary enterprises.
Faculty will implement a new global health initiative within the existing undergraduate design team program at Johns Hopkins. Students will explore conditions on the ground, developing world standards of care, and barriers to implementing global health technology. Faculty will expand the curriculum and formalize educational mechanisms to increase the probability of success of student-developed technology deployed on a large scale.
The Applied Innovation for Global Development course will deliver experiential learning, create E-Teams, and incubate innovation, new technology development, and commercialization in Africa. The two-module course will offer an Innovation Lab and an Applied Innovation Clinic to 50 graduate students with the goal of at least one commercial launch annually.
Recipient Institution: Art Center College of Design
Principal Investigator: Penny Herscovitch
Grant Amount: $24,750
The Safe Agua Colombia program works with families living in Colombia's slum communities to design and develop products, systems, and services with a focus on water to help overcome the cycle of poverty. Students will work with end users to co-create radically affordable products and systems with sustainable, scalable, real-world implementation. Resulting technologies will address specific problems such as illness and water conservation, and will develop opportunities for entrepreneurs to generate income.
The Sanergy team from MIT continues to reach toward their goal of providing hygienic, accessible, affordable sanitation for everyone in Nairobi's urban slums. In the last month, they have:
• Sold 103 Fresh Life Toilets and franchised to 50 entrepreneurs • Created 122 jobs • Removed 170 metric tons of waste from the community • Served 1,000,000 paying customers with hygienic sanitation
Reaching these numbers relies heavily on their Fresh Life Operators successfully running Fresh Life Toilets. Mercyline Atieno (pictured above) is one of their newest Fresh Life Operators. Mercyline runs a vegetable stand and rents out stalls in the Viwandani section of Mukuru slum. When they spoke to her about why she wanted to open a Fresh Life Toilet, she told them how she wanted to give her children--particularly her girls--choices that she did not have due to limited education. She plans to use the income from the operation of the toilet for school fees. Mercyline's toilet is now up and running, and she has joined their FLO advisory council to represent her section of Mukuru.
Injera is a spongy sourdough flatbread made from the Ethiopian grain t’ef. It is a staple of Ethiopian meals, and it is usually cooked over an open fire, resulting in severe deforestation and poor respiratory health. This project is addressing environmental sustainability and the health of women and children by eliminating the need to use wood for fuel to cook injera. Instead, it will be mass-manufactured in a centralized food processing facility in Addis Ababa using not t’ef but lower cost grains like sorghum, millet, and cassava. The team believes it can reduce the cost of injera while improving nutritional quality. Previous survey evidence shows that because the cost of t’ef is high, many poor Ethiopians are already making and eating injera that is a mixture of more affordable grains. The team is partnered with the African Climate Exchange (ACE) and the Organization for Rehabilitation and Development in Amhara and supported in the US by mentors in agricultural products.
This team is developing Brilliance, a low-cost phototherapy device for newborns with jaundice in Sub-Saharan Africa. A cross-disciplinary team of Stanford and Northwestern masters level students and faculty are collaborating with the non-profit D-Rev to research the medical device markets in East and Southern Africa, seeking to understand medical device distribution channels for Brilliance and other future products, as well as how sales, marketing, and maintenance might be implemented. They are also seeking to understand how unreliable access to and flow of electricity in East Africa impact the design of the current Brilliance device.
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, 2011 - $46,983
The need for low-cost, seismically resistant housing in Southeast Asia is compelling for two reasons: the region’s seismic activity and its large, dense populations of low-income purchasers. In order to meet the need for earthquake resistant, inexpensive housing, this team is partnering with a Thai NGO to promote interlocking compressed earth block (ICEB) construction in the area. ICEBs are made by compressing soil with the right combination of fines (silt and clay) and sand with a small amount of water and cement so that they are stable enough to be handled right after pressing and do not erode when they come into contact with water. ICEBs are environmentally friendly and can be made locally by lower-skilled laborers with minimal training.
Specifically, the team is developing manuals for seismically resistant ICEB construction and traveling to Thailand and Indonesia to build a culturally appropriate prototype ICEB structure and ensure its safety. The team’s partner NGO, which has a business model that combines a revolving fund with income from training courses and sales of equipment, is adding this to their product line and taking on responsibility for scaling and implementation in the region.
Food security issues are escalating in East Africa, where over 60% of the population is malnourished. There is broad agreement on the need to help small-scale farmers boost their agricultural productivity, reduce spoilage and provide links to markets. Greenhouses can help farmers increase yields, but the greenhouses currently sold in East Africa, designed for large commercial farms, are too expensive for small-scale farmers and generally do not meet their needs.
Over the last three years, this team has collaborated with Kenyan and Tanzanian partners in the field to design, prototype, and field-test affordable greenhouses designed for small farmers. The greenhouses cost $200 and can be assembled by two people in two days. Proprietary and technical innovations include modular design, a fastener system, the construction process itself, and the choice of materials used in lieu of glass.
Over 200 million people in South and Southeast Asia are routinely exposed to arsenic poisoning by drinking naturally contaminated groundwater. For over ten years, Lehigh University has led an international team in developing, installing and monitoring community-based arsenic removal systems in several Southeast Asian countries. Participating families pay a fee for arsenic-safe water, obtained by using a polymer-based arsenic-selective adsorbent currently manufactured in the US. However, high cost, import duties and uncertainty in shipping due to bureaucratic formalities and customs delays have surfaced as primary obstacles for further growth of the enterprise.
This team has developed an equally efficient, reusable, arsenic-selective adsorbent that will cost 50% less than the current product and will be able to be made in India as opposed to the US, thus eliminating the importing issues. An Indian company, Enhanced Water and Air Pollution Prevention Ltd., has agreed to invest in large-scale synthesis of the material with the goal of providing safe drinking water to high-rise buildings in semi-urban areas, a growing market in the developing world. The idea is that increased revenue from this new low cost middle class market will reduce the risk and enable the serving of more poor people.
Update: The team won a Tech Awards honor (fall 2012), which recognizes innovators and entrepreneurs who make a difference around the world in education, medicine, struggling economies, and social services.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2011 - $28,272
Nicaragua is the second poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Located on the Atlantic Coast of the country, the Southern Autonomous Region (RAAS) of Nicaragua is plagued with the most severe poverty in the country and has very little infrastructure, including systems for the removal and treatment of solid waste. Garbage is commonly dumped in informal dumpsites, creeks, and rivers, or burned in yards behind homes, producing greenhouse gases and emitting environmental toxins that are a threat to public health. Previous attempts to initiate recycling programs in this region have been hampered by the high cost of transporting trash from remote RAAS municipalities to recycling brokers in Managua, located on the other side of the country.
This team is partnering with wastepickers, scrap metal collectors, and a local composting cooperative to develop economically feasible waste sector enterprises that simultaneously reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create income for some of the region's most marginalized families. The team has a two-phased, three-year plan. Phase I focuses on the largest town in the region, Bluefield, where the team will work with locals to develop a logistics plan and build a recycling enterprise, a composting cooperative, and a small scale biodigester that uses organic waste to create biogas. Phase II extends the project to two other towns in the region, El Rama and the Corn Islands. Technical innovation includes the incorporation of slaughterhouse waste with the biodigester (not a typical input for biodigesters in Central America) and plans to design tools (crushing, mixing) to accommodate that waste.
In Kenya, maize crops, the main food staple, are failing due to disease, climate change, and droughts. Amaranth, a drought- and disease-resistant grain with high nutrient and immunity properties, was introduced to Kenya in 2005 and has shown higher marginal returns compared to other commodities, including maize. This initiative builds on a partnership between US universities and Kenyan institutions to develop market-driven, affordable technology innovations that take advantage of amaranth grain as a cash crop in Western Kenya. The team has already performed fieldwork there, working with farming cooperatives to produce and market amaranth. With this grant, the team is working with farming groups to increase the quantity and quality of the grain, develop the infrastructure and local capacity for large-scale manufacturing of a mechanical seed planter and human-powered thresher, and implement a business strategy with farming cooperatives.
Food waste and spoilage is a problem in developing countries, which often lack the infrastructure to preserve food. For example, in Cameroon, despite the fact that the majority of the population farms, many people end up buying long-lasting products like canned tomatoes, bottled spices, chocolate, and coffee at exorbitant prices.
JolaVenture is developing the Solar Food Dryer (SFD) as an effective, low-cost solution to food spoilage in developing countries. Using solar energy to dehydrate fruits, vegetables, carbohydrates, and meats, the SFD extends the shelf lives of perishable food items, giving users a simple and cost-effective means of food preservation. The team's goal is to create SFD packaging and distribution centers within country farmer's group partners where produce would be bought, dried, packaged, and sold to local markets.
Infant mortality in poor areas of the world remains high, with premature birth and asphyxia two of the leading causes. The well-regulated thermal environment provided by an incubator in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit can be crucial for a newborn’s survival, but social, cultural and economic pressures often result in mothers of premature infants in developing countries being forced to leave hospitals as soon as possible in order to resume their traditional family duties.
This team is circumventing the problem by providing a low-cost home incubator kit for in-home care of high-risk infants. The team’s device is a combination transporter (for the move between hospital and home), cooler, heater and incubator. It consists of a heat pipe-coupled evaporative cooler (water-filled clay pot) connected to a pod-like bubble for housing the infant. The heat pipes will allow both heating and cooling. A digital temperature readout is on the front, and a battery and solar panel are provided for off-grid functionality. The team is partnered with General Electric’s (GE) Maternal Infant Care division and a charitable hospital in Southern India. Their one-year goal is to design and test the device; once tested, GE will take over marketing and manufacturing.
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2011 - $32,700
While approximately 80% of the world’s amputees live in developing nations, only 2% of the people in that segment have access to appropriate prosthetic care and rehabilitation. There are two primary reasons for this: the custom-fit sockets typically provided to amputees are very expensive, costing up to $5,000, and they are not geared toward the agricultural- and labor-oriented contexts of the developing world. Additionally, due to the fact that 90% of the world’s amputees are missing a lower extremity instead of an upper extremity, the majority of prosthetics research has been applied to leg development and not toward arms, thus leaving a gap in upper-extremity devices.
This grant involves three entities in producing an inexpensive prosthetic arm for above-the-elbow amputees in India. The three entities are: 1) a year-long, interdisciplinary, project-based course at UIUC, including international immersion with a team devoted to this topic; 2) Illini Prosthetic Technologies (IPT), a non-profit organization founded by University of Illinois engineering students; and 3) Marketplace Literacy Communities, a non-profit organization in South India. IPT, which grew out of a design course at UIUC, has been working for over three years to develop an affordable and appropriate below-the-elbow prosthetic arm for amputees in Guatemala. This new device will build on this technology, called OpenSocket™, and take IPT in a new direction by exploring above-the-elbow prosthetic arms in a new geographical setting.
In 2007, Stanford University began a multi-year partnership with the government of India to establish the Stanford-India Biodesign (SIB) program (previously funded by NCIIA), the goal of which was to promote medical technology innovation and create novel medical devices for the poor of India. Phase I of SIB was a five-year pilot with the aim of developing one center (in New Delhi) as a “prototype” SIB center. The center has been internationally recognized for its approach to training innovators in the process of creating novel medical technologies for the poor, with three novel medical devices developed and one new company formed. The Government of India is now enthusiastic to commence Phase II, in which additional SIB centers will be developed. However, India can only fund in-India expenses. This grant supports the launch of Phase II, which includes continuing to enable Stanford medical, engineering and business students to pursue clinical immersion within India, creating the “India Biodesign Sourcebook” as an open source resource for medtech innovators, and advising in the creation of two to five new India Biodesign centers within India.
Sustainable Vision Connect 2013, a one-day preconference workshop designed specifically for faculty building strong educational programs around invention and innovation for poverty alleviation and basic human needs, will be taking place March 21, 2013 in Washington, D.C.
This event is full to capacity, and registration is now closed. For any questions, please email email@example.com.
Sustainable Vision Connect Advisors
Iqbal Quadir, Director, Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at MIT
Paul Polak, Founder, International Development Enterprises
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Thu, 04/28/2011 - 14:08
2009 NCIIA E-Team grantee, AYZH, was among projects honored this month as part of the WHCC Affordable Health Innovations Exhibit in Washington, D.C. AYZH is a social venture looking through the eyes of women to identify the tools they want and need to help improve their standard of living. AYZH's main focus is preventing maternal and new-born deaths, by distributing affordable clean birth kits to women and clinics (that cost $2) that dramatically reduce lethal childbirth infection.
The West African nation of Ghana is mostly rural, with farming constituting 60% of the workforce. Many of these farms are small, but collectively they produce an enormous amount of biomaterial that is currently burned as waste. As a result, the post-harvest sky is choked with air pollution, uncontrolled wild fires are a constant threat, and the burning biomass contributes to global warming.
This team proposes to convert the post-harvest biomass into usable energy with a solar enhanced pyrolysis device. Pyrolysis, the decomposition of biomass in an oxygen-free environment at elevated temperatures, results in biofuel (gas and oil) and a biochar residue that can be used to enhance soil fertility. The team’s device uses corncobs and concentrated solar energy to convert the waste into energy and biochar with high efficiency and throughput.
The team is partnered with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Ghana. Travel funds to enable two-way student exchanges have been provided by an alumnus to enhance the project.
Michigan Technological University (Michigan Tech), 2010 - $47,500
Velovations is a group of roughly thirty Michigan Tech undergraduates, graduates, researchers, and faculty performing testing, research, and development for the bicycle industry. In cooperation with Michigan Tech’s Mechanical Engineering Peace Corps Masters International (PCMI) program, and led by returned Peace Corps volunteers who have worked in Africa, Velovations has identified a set of bicycle product opportunities particular to East Africa. Over the next three years, Velovations will work with Cycling out of Poverty, the African Bicycle Network and others (including a designer who worked on bikes for the Tour de France and Beijing Olympics) to develop products that meet East African needs and provide opportunities for local production.
Per their market research, the students will specifically look into modifying, accessorizing, or servicing the ubiquitous Tata bike, a brand of bicycle that is omnipresent in Africa. Key issues they identified were large load carrying, a lack of female riders, men being uncomfortable using women’s bikes (conversion kits), and flat tires (the solution is an affordable solid tire).
NCIIA funding will allow for increased product development capabilities, enable travel to East Africa to solidify relationships and find new development and production partners.
The team has incorporated as Baisikeli Ugunduzi and moved to sub-Saharan Africa to work on the company directly (May 2012)
The team has a new video and a fundraising campaign (October 2012)
The lack of hygienic sanitation facilities in slums is a primary cause of 1.5 million child deaths each year. Improved sanitation facilities could reduce diarrheal deaths in young children by more than a third. The Kibera Working Group (KWG), a collaboration of University of Denver faculty and graduate students, Nairobi-based water and sanitation company Ecotact, and the Rotary Clubs of Denver Southeast and Langata-Nairobi is working toward the goal of improved sanitation facilities in the Kibera slum of Nairobi.
KWG’s three main objectives are: 1) assist residents of Kibera in improving health conditions by improving the technological innovations and associated processes in the water and sanitation systems; 2) ascertain best practices in facility development and operations in order to create sustainable facilities; and 3) evaluate and refine its model. KWG is nearly finished developing its proposed model; next the model framework will be tested on existing facilities and a full-time project manager in Kenya will be enrolled to oversee the implementation and operation.
Roughly half the population of Guatemala lives on less than two dollars a day, with the majority of rural households making a living through subsistence agriculture. At the same time, the country depends entirely on unsustainable energy sources to power the economy, importing all of its fossil fuel, while most rural households use firewood as their primary cooking fuel.
To address the dual issues of poverty and environmental degradation, this grant supports the development of briquettes made from the locally available Jatropha plant and other agricultural waste to meet rural families’ cooking fuel needs. Fuel briquettes are an environmentally friendly substitute for expensive or unsustainable fuel sources and can be produced at low cost using manual technology and free raw materials—in this case, Jatropha seedstock waste left over from the production of biodiesel. The team is partnering with TechnoServe, an international NGO with an office in Guatemala that has been creating biodiesel from Jatropha since 2006. The team has prior experience in briquette production, having collaborated with an Afghani NGO to launch a successful fuel briquette microenterprise in Kabul (funded by another Sustainable Vision grant).
Soil fertility depletion on small farms is a fundamental cause of poverty, hunger, and malnutrition in large parts of the developing world. Africa has the lowest fertilizer use rates in the world, leading to declining yields and incomes.
This project explores the use of locally grown cyanobacterial bio-fertilizer to empower people and improve soil fertility, crop yields, and living standards in Ethiopia. Cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) are nearly ubiquitous in nature due to their unique ability to carry out both photosynthesis and nitrogen fixation. Rice farmers in Asia have grown cyanobacteria in their paddies for centuries to improve yield, but to be of value to all farmers, this practice must be adapted so that it can be applied to a variety of crops.
This team proposes a new approach to an ancient concept: growing cyanobacteria in outdoor ponds on-farm and harvesting them for use as a fertilizer that can be applied to any crop. The team will utilize an existing collaboration with Hawassa University in Ethiopia to research the feasibility of scalable bio-fertilizer production in that country, as well as pave the way for large-scale implementation by Ethiopian entrepreneurs.
The failure of urban housing was the primary source of fatalities during the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Haitian urban construction practice uses mildly reinforced, undersized concrete columns and masonry infill walls using hand-pressed bricks called Cement Masonry Units (CMUs). Historically, buildings using CMUs perform well under the strong winds common to the Caribbean but experienced catastrophic collapses in the January 2010 earthquake. Even if the size and reinforcement of columns were increased in rebuilding efforts, the continued widespread use of CMUs would still pose a significant seismic risk in future events.
This team, which includes advisors from the Gigot Center/Business School, is developing a new housing paradigm for Haiti with the capacity to withstand the dual threat of hurricanes and earthquakes. The specific focus is on a new sustainable partitioning system for housing called Vèt Miray (Creole for “Green Wall”). Using mechanically processed local agricultural waste products, Vèt Miray has the potential to not only significantly alleviate the risk posed by CMUs, but also address other Haitian societal issues related to waste disposal and economic opportunity by providing a new green industry to the region.
Tanzanian women and children spend more than four hours each day collecting and carrying water, firewood, and other heavy goods on their heads. Not only is this practice physically crippling, but it also keeps children out of school and robs families of time that could otherwise be spent on income-generating activities. The Anza team from Brown University has a solution. They have designed a low-cost hand cart that can carry 120 liters of water or 300 pounds of goods — six times more than a woman can load on her head.
Clean water is essential to life; lack of access to it results in poor health and economic hardship. Over two academic terms in 2009, the Designmatters Department at Art Center College of Design sponsored studios in which students traveled to Chilean slums and worked directly with residents to envision, design, and test solutions addressing the lack of safe, running water. For residents of San José, Chile, the team, calling itself Safe Agua Chile, generated six solutions involving the use, storage, and transportation of water.
This grant supports an extension of the project to a Peruvian slum. The Safe Agua Peru team will look for opportunities for water system innovations, capitalizing on the field research and outcomes of the Chilean project. Designmatters students will partner with the Innovation Center of the Chilean organization Un Techo Para Mi Pais, which has offices in eighteen countries throughout Latin America. The Peru project will include a new class of degree students working on this project as part of an upper-term transdisciplinary studio.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010 - $11,000
This grant supports the creation of entrepreneurial support programming for a workshop that will challenge people living in poverty in Arusha, Tanzania to create technologies that can improve their lives. The workshop, called Accelerating Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship (AISE), is the result of collaboration between MIT’s D-Lab and Global Cycle Solutions, a Tanzanian company selling pedal-powered innovations for the poor. (GCS has participated in a NCIIA VentureLab).
Arusha, like many African cities, consists of a small, urbanized center surrounded by thousands of small-scale farmers. Ninety percent of these farmers use hand tools to cultivate and harvest, and irrigation, energy, health, and sanitation technologies remain too expensive for most. The mission of the AISE workshop is to produce innovative tools and other products that will multiply the incomes of smallholder farmers and local social entrepreneurs.
The foundational idea behind AISE is to engage and train communities in the entire technology design process, empowering people to develop and disseminate their own solutions. The methodology focuses on community members as problem-solvers and technology designers.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2010 - $49,900
Nearly three billion people worldwide lack access to adequate sanitation, and in slums, where over one billion live, high population densities combined with a lack of infrastructure and resources makes the problem particularly acute.
Over the past year, the Sustainable Sanitation in Urban Slums team at MIT, now Sanergy, designed, constructed and implemented a pilot modular low-cost sanitation facility customized for the residents of two slums in Nairobi, Kenya. Two low-cost technologies are the centerpiece: a (<$200) prefabricated ferrocement toilet (versus $25,000 solutions at present) and a bicycle-powered exhaustion pump for pit latrines. These technologies are combined with a holistic deployment strategy: a micro-franchised network of sanitation centers, low-cost waste collection infrastructure, and a centralized processing facility that converts waste into biogas, electricity, and fertilizer that is sold commercially.
The team is partnered with Carolina for Kibera, a US NGO set up specifically in the Kibera slum of Nairobi and Ikotoilet, an Acumen Fund grantee. The NCIIA grant will enable the team to improve the sanitation facility design, establish a fabrication workshop in Nairobi, train local workers, and expand the pilot to validate the program and product.
Updates: As of October 2012, the team continues to reach towards hygienic, accessible, affordable sanitation for everyone in Nairobi's urban slums. In the last month, they have: sold 103 Fresh Life Toilets and franchised to 50 entrepreneurs; created 122 jobs; removed 170 metric tons of waste from the community; and served 1,000,000 paying customers with hygienic sanitation.
Working with D-Rev, a nonprofit technology incubator based in Palo Alto, the Enabling Effective Management of Neonatal Jaundice in Rural India team signed a licensing agreement with Chennai, India-based Phoenix Medical Systems Private Ltd for the manufacturing and distribution of Brilliance, a novel phototherapy device that enables the treatment of severe neonatal jaundice in low-resource hospitals.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Fri, 11/05/2010 - 19:57
This photo is of a neonatal jaundice treatment technology being developed by a Sustainable Vision team from Stanford University working with the non-profit technology incubator, Design Revolution. The Enabling Effective Management of Neonatal Jaundice in Rural India team, a 2009 NCIIA grantee, developed an affordable world-class phototherapy device that will provide effective treatment for newborns in low-income hospitals. 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.
The Sustainable VisionVentureLab is an intensive, five-day, highly experiential and immersive workshop designed to enhance the success of your venture. Participants develop strong, sustainable business models that create products or services for the benefit of people living in poverty.
At Sustainable Vision VentureLab you'll have the space to think and explore within a dynamic environment that will help you evolve your business strategy, sales channels, marketing, and financial mechanics of your venture, with support from people who have been there and done it themselves.
You'll come out of the workshop not only with a more competitive action plan, but also with a set of tools that will help you grow your venture for years to come.
Topics discussed may include:
Blocks and barriers to performance
The Human operating system
Operating in another country/culture
Understanding your customer
How do you create and articulate value
Innovating at every level
Business model case studies from the developing world
Understanding the supply chain
Designing for affordability
Features vs. benefits
Telling a story
Presentation techniques & tips
About the Instructor
James Barlow, NCIIA's Program Manager for Outreach, has worked in the University entrepreneurship space for 7 years and has been Commercial Advisor or Commercial Director for 16 start-ups. He has served as a consultant internationally on start-up strategy, enterprise education and training. Prior to working in Higher Education, James was a Performance Coach, Motivational Speaker, and Strategy Consultant for FTSE listed companies and also worked in the Pharmaceutical Industry in Sales and Sales Management. He earned his BSc Honours Degree in Biochemistry from the University of Kent.
Sustainable Vision VentureLab is held twice a year, the next workshop will be in 2012. For more information, contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org
What participants have said about VentureLab:
"How would I describe the NCIIA VentureLab? No amount of adjectives could ever do it justice but here are a few I would use: exciting, exhausting, inspiring, humbling, challenging. hilarious, risqué, refreshing, and so much more. The VentureLab is something you have to experience before you can really understand its worth. Not only do you come away with a better understanding of your venture and its place in the market, but also new skills, contacts and even friendships. The instructors are fantastic and it's a chance to mingle with the best and brightest of your peers. I would recommend it to any budding entrepreneur, it's a must." —2010 VentureLab participant
"VentureLab was a great experience. It's definitely a hands-on, extremely inspiring and helpful opportunity that allowed us to think actively about the short and long term goals of our venture. The workshop was fast-paced and applicable in many ways to not only our venture, but also life in general. I left VentureLab humbled and inspired by the people I met and the experiences and opportunities I had." —2010 VentureLab participant
"VentureLab is a good experience for anyone feeling alone in the world of social entrepreneurship. VentureLab helps you find direction and inspiration for your developing-world venture."—2010 VentureLab participant
Sustainable Vision approaches the creation of solutions to global problems through innovative technological ideas pursued through scalable market driven business models. A few examples of ventures (non profit and for profit) launched by grantees:
Interviewee: Carolina Barreto (Project PI John Duffy)
Overview: The aim of this project is to provide small farmers in developing countries with an affordable solar drip irrigation method that promotes the sustainable use of water and energy. The world’s food security relies on improving irrigation techniques for smallholder agriculture in developing countries. The common irrigation practice is flooding with seasonal water gravity fed systems or diesel/gasoline-powered pumps. Solar pumps are clean, efficient and have lower maintenance. Drip irrigation (DI) is 40% more efficient than furrow. Depending on the crop, DI could allow three harvests per year instead of one in the rainy season, generating enough income to pay for the system.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Tue, 04/13/2010 - 15:24
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.
A 2009 Sustainable Vision team from Mercer University is designing a new prosthetic socket that is cheaper and takes less time to fit to the amputee, helping reduce overall cost.
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.
Sustainable Vision grants fund educational programs where breakthrough technologies are created and commercialized for the benefit of people living in poverty in the US and abroad. Grants of up to $50,000 are available for faculty at US universities.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006 - $42,650
The Development Entrepreneurship (DE) program at MIT, established in 2005 with the idea of having teams of students develop technological solutions for poverty alleviation in the developing world, has five successful projects under its belt and has expanded the program into Africa. Now the DE team will expand its work into Central and South America through a collaboration with the Sumaq Alliance, a group of eight business schools in Spanish and Portuguese-speaking markets.
Summer 2009 update: As of October 2007 the team established a program at INCAE, a collaboration, which leveraged Costa Rican government interest to fund an innovations/entrepreneurship class shared by 2 institutions.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2006 - $35,700
This team focuses on developing partnership to help move ideas from MIT labs to the developing world. The project begins with D-Lab, a collection of classes and field trips at MIT that focus on having students to create sustainable solutions to the problems of poverty and environmental degradation in developing countries. Although some of the products that have come out of D-Lab have gone on to wider distribution, most haven't moved beyond the pilot phase, primarily due to students choosing not to pursue the projects further. To solve the problem, MIT faculty have partnered with a Pakistani NGO to create the Innovations in International Health (IIH) program, which aims to give students access to the support and resources necessary to bring their products to market. IIH will consist of a tightly knit network of organizations doing work in the developing world, including research entities, NGOs, government agencies, and community partners. The goal is for the network to provide students with engineering ideas to pursue and the means to bring the resulting inventions to market.
Summer 2009 update: IIH has created a network of global health professionals to provide students with opportunities for continued development of global health technology projects. IIH has enabled the development of 21 medical technology products, such as Aerovax, XoutTB, the Spirulina Bioreacator, PortaTherm and uBox. PortaTherm is currently in the field-testing stage of development and two clinical trials of XoutTB have been conducted. Both uBox and Aerovax have applied for patents. In total 16 projects have been launched by IIH, and three centers of excellence in appropriate medical technologies have been established, while the IIH footprint has expanded to more than 7 countries. This team also created a non-profit organization called Innovators in Health and has secured additional funding from sources such as the Lord Foundation, IADB and an NIH enabled grant.
Ithaca College is partnering with Ecuadorian NGO Fundacion Maquipucuna (FM), an established organization that sells a range of fair trade, organic products in the US and elsewhere under the brand name Choco-Andese. The partnership is meant to develop micro-enterprises in Ecuador based around poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability. The projects will build on the ideas of students who participated in a previous course and includes innovations such as an inexpensive plastic thatch for roofing.
Summer 2009 update: In 2007 this team designed 3 machines for processes relating to plastic thatch and bio-diesel production and worked out a complete process for converting plastic waste into very low-cost roofing solutions. By 2008 they had a machine that stripped plastic off bottles, designed a binding machine for plastic thatch and built a bio-diesel production facility. The team also started working on short-term projects such as designing and selling tours in Ecuador for eco-tourists; selling carbon-friendly picture frames; and leading coffee and chocolate tours. By the end of 2008 this team had a plastic roof thatching process in the application state of patenting, created a working bio-diesel reactor and operations manual, laid the ground work for expanded "edu"-tourism programs in Ecuador and developed and named sustainable products related to eco-tourism. They are also collaborating with another NCIIA program at Rutgers University to conduct bio-exploration in Ecuador. Follow on funding from NCIIA was given to support PlastEco, a low-cost thatch-roofing product made from discarded plastic bottles.
Getting appropriate technology implemented in rural ares in Peru is very difficult due to the geographical dispersion of the approximately 70,000 communities living in extreme poverty. To help solve the problem, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is collaborating with two Peruvian NGOs: Grupo de Apoyo al Sector Rural at the Pontificia Universidad del Peru and the Inca-Bus mobile technology education program. The goal of the collaboration is to create and build systems for sustainable sources of energy and clean water and air for the rural population. Interdisciplinary student design teams from RPI's chapters of Engineers for a Sustainable World and the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers will build the systems. Projects will be identified and evaluated based on impact on basic human needs and potential for commercialization.
Summer 2009 update: In 2008 the RPI team set up communication with Peru and received funding to build a demonstration house designed by RPI where technologies they developed were installed and tested. They designed a prototype guinea pig house, a well drilling and pumping system and an improved biomass stove and press for the reformulation of dung. By 2009 this team had also designed and built a solar-powered lighting system, dung stove chimney and drilling bit/rope-pumping system. Because of this project, several classes at RPI now have sustainable engineering components. The team received follow on funding from NCIIA in order to develop affordable and easy-to-use pasteurization equipment for rural families in Peru.
This Hope College team plan uses Manz Biosand Filters to address the drinking water needs of approximately 900 people living in the rural village of Nkuv, Cameroon. Their model for implementation, developed in collaboration with a West African NGO, is the Community-Based Team (CBT). A CBT was designed to consist of five key people recruited from the local population: a Health Specialist, Construction Specialist, Maintenance Specialist, Evaluation Specialist, and Management/Promotion Specialist. The idea was to recruit, train, and deploy a group of locals with the ability to build, maintain, and evaluate the filters without help from the outside. This project represents a first step toward empowering communities in the developing world to actively solve their drinking water problems.
Summer 2009 update: Filter technician training started in May 2006. The team’s health education manual was field tested in May 2008 with additional modules tested in May 2009. They established a relationship with the Center for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology. By August 2008 this team completed 2 new filter projects in Nkuv in different communities and was preparing to start a third. They received external funding from Thirst Relief International. The team shifted their focus from investigating technology transfer in rural communities to working with the community to develop a financial system whereby homeowners who wanted a filter could buy the materials to construct one. Over 6000 customers have been serviced as of spring 2009 and the team has received $15,000 from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and about $7,000 from the Crossroads project at Hope College. These funds have been used primarily to fund student research assistants.
Northwestern University has an undergraduate capstone design course that includes travel for students to work with researchers at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. While students have been able to provide clear needs assessments and propose solutions to identified problems, there needs to be a way to maintain continuity on projects so that they ultimately become real product solutions. This team will create an MS program as a way to further support the capstone projects. Specifically, the outcome will be a new program that forms a track within the existing MS and BS-MS programs, but requires additional formal training in Healthcare Technology Management at the University of Cape Town and experience in acting as team leaders for the capstone project teams.
Summer 2009 update: This team developed and installed a digital x-ray system in a community health clinic in South Africa. It now functions as an x-ray facility and a student laboratory. A class of four students was admitted to the capstone course and graduated in December 2008 with MS in biomedical engineering and 6 months of R&D activities in Cape Town, South Africa. The first phase of product testing for the x-ray system is complete and the second phase is planned to take place in Guatemala City. This team formed a non-profit organization, hired paid employees, helped arrange for the donation of equipment to the Crossroads Clinic in South Africa and secured additional funding.
University of California - Berkeley, 2006 - $44,150
This team will further develop and test the Sustainable Consumption Action Network (SCAN), a mobile technology that enables shoppers to enter the barcode of a product on their cell phone and bring up information on the social and environmental impacts of the product and the company that makes it. The display is simple, featuring scores from 0-10 for health, environmental, and social performance, as well as an overall rating. Consumers can then click through to see more detailed analyses, share ratings with friends or families, and directly email or SMS complaints or questions to the company that makes the product. In addition to the version of SCAN aimed at US consumers, the team is also developing a wiki-like information management system that will allow workers, farmers, and consumers in developing countries to access and contribute information on company conditions and practices.
Summer 2009 update: This team took their prototype and ultimately hired a team of engineers from Google, Apple, Ebay, and Amazon, to develop their tools further and get them out to the consumer. In Fall 2007 the project spun-off the UC Berkeley campus, licensed some of their IP, created a For Benefit corporate company and raised $3.6 million. GoodGuide has several million users so far. In March 2009 GoodGuide was featured in a TIME magazine article entitled “10 Ideas Changing the World Right Now” and continues to attract media attention.
With this grant, the Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) service learning program at PSU will work to improve rural Kenyans’ economic well-being by addressing challenges of low agricultural productivity of Kenyan farmers due to their use of simple instruments and tools. HESE service learning program-enrolled PSU students will work with students from the University of Nairobi and Moi University to design a variety of agricultural devices (both manual and powered) to significantly improve productivity of the farmers. It is expected that, as farmers' incomes increase through the use of the improved manual devices, they will be able to purchase an engine and appropriate attachments powered by the engine, thus increasing productivity even further. Examples of potential devices include water pumps, electric generators, posho mills, decorticators, tillers, and power tools.
Summer 2009 update: By June 2008 this team designed a water well utility rig and rock crusher. By October 2008 they had designed and constructed a utility cart and sisal decorticator. In July 2009, after travel and consultation with local businesses and entrepreneurs, university partners and local communities, the team decided to focus all of its efforts on the development of a water well drilling rig and related business opportunities. During the Fall 2009 semester design teams at Moi University, Jomo Kenyatta University and Pennsylvania State University will design and test the drilling apparatus with business plan development to occur during Spring 2010. Field testing will be undertaken in May 2010.
This program supports the expansion of the Global Institute for BioExploration (GIBEX) into Tanzania. GIBEX, a partnership among Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and North Carolina State University, facilitates sustainable pharmacological bioexploration driven by the concept of “Reversing the Flow,” a term the institute has coined for keeping resources in the source countries rather than removing them. GIBEX does this by training local scientists in developing countries to use portable, field-deployable screening technology, named Screens-to-Nature technology (STN); helping local farmers and manufacturers profit by growing and selling the medicinal plants GIBEX identifies for commercial production; and assigning any intellectual property resulting from the bioexploration to the host country, offering the opportunity to get the products to market through licensing arrangements. GIBEX shares the STN technology with academic institutions in Africa and around the world.
Summer 2009 update: In April 2007 GIBEX successfully conducted training at the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania and by January 2008 had screened extracts from 50 plant species out of the proposed 300 to send through chemical tests. An entrepreneurial workshop held in Tanzania in June 2008 was designed to generate licensing interest. By September 2009, 220 plant species have been screened and 3 students are attached to the STN project and biodiversity documentation. Avon, Inc. registered as a corporate member of GIBEX, and McNeil Nutritionals LLC and L’Oreal are following GIBEX activities. Collaborators at the University of Dar-es-Salaam have obtained government approval in Tanzania to collect plant samples from the forest reserves of the Eastern and Western Arc Mountains for STN bioassay work and will screen the remaining 80 plants using STN technology as well as carry out bioexploration and biodiversity documentation. Most of the data collected so far have been entered into the NAPIS and STN databases.
As initially proposed, this team aimed to aid Afghanistan in its rebuilding efforts by training the country's undereducated and underfunded engineering faculty. CU-Boulder offered a number of educational opportunities to Afghani faculty, including scholarships to allow them to complete online CU-Boulder certificate courses (through a subcontract of a USAID grant to Washington State University); loans of online library courses to Kabul University at little or no cost; training from US engineering and business experts on how to develop sustainable engineering and business solutions involving online components, face-to-face meetings, and short courses.
After the initial plan of offering online training for university faculty proved to be untenable because of the technological divide, and hosting several tech entrepreneurship workshops in and around Kabul with varying results, the team partnered with Afghans for Tomorrow (A4T) and this grant took a new direction. In January 2008, CU and A4T piloted schools with fuel briquette facilities that could produce 1000 fuel briquettes a day (a family of five needs 5 briquettes per day). Students attend school in the mornings (with a dedicated teacher who provides lessons up the 5th grade level) and make briquettes in the afternoons. The project started with 20 street children and disabled young persons from Kabul. In July 2008 Afghans for Tomorrow established their first training center. As of spring 2009 hundreds of Afghanis have been trained at 28 established briquette facilities. More than 5,600kg of briquettes were produced in the last six months of 2008 and in 2009 there were 64 Briquette Team graduates. The goal is to employ 5,000 children eventually and the project has been cleared by the Ministry of Children’s Affairs to ensure that it is not in violation of child labor laws. The Ministry is very happy with the project as the work does not require heavy lifting, bending, eye-strain, etc. and all of the workers are paid a decent wage.
Summer 2009 update: What began as a project envisioned to provide on-site training to Afghan faculty and potential social entrepreneurs has turned into a multi-organizational partnership that has created an opportunity for individuals to become gainfully employed, attend school, and take steps toward becoming self-sufficient small business owners. This team has leveraged $72,000 as a start-up grant in August 2008 to pay 30 salaries and is currently completing a feasibility analysis prior to launching an entrepreneurial venture.
The School of Public Health at Saint Louis University is creating a sustainable model for the manufacture and distribution of point-of-use water filters in the Dominican Republic. These filters enable a household to purify its drinking water and thereby reduce illness. The team is focusing on a bucket system that allows for filtration through a ceramic filter containing activated charcoal. Similar water filters have been distributed by NGOs and student volunteers in the Dominican Republic on a small scale; this team will take the project a step further by developing a business plan to sell a minimum of 600 filters annually. The team has a three-year relationship with a local NGO, the Institute of Latin American Concerns (ILAC), and St. Louis University has been working in Latin America and the Caribbean in the prevention of diarrheal disease since 1998. The team's partnership with ILAC gives the team access to an existing network of health workers in eight communities in rural areas in the Dominican Republic.
Many poor villages in developing countries are located in isolated mountainous areas without access to grid-based electric power. Without electricity, villagers burn a variety of fuels for energy, which can lead to respiratory disease and environmental degradation. At the same time, a number of these villages have nearby streams that represent a considerable untapped natural resource for energy creation. This team aims to take advantage of those stream, creating village-level pico-hydro systems that harness the small mountain streams to produce enough energy to serve the villages. This team has already developed and installed one pico-hydro systems sustainable by building them into community-owned businesses. Specifically, they will develop business plans for two types of companies: franchised power-producing operations in rural villages (villagers running the pico-hydro systems), and system design companies located in nearby urban centers. The team expects to create three to six more prototype systems in Honduran villages similar to Pueblo Nuevo.
International Development Enterprises (IDE) sells a wide variety of agricultural-output-increasing technology to the world's rural poor, including a popular treadle pump that increases the availability of water and raises household income by an average of $150 annually. IDE-Myanmar's sales of the pump have doubled each year since 2004, but with the scaling up of operations, managing efficient quality manufacturing in a less industrialized economy has become a pressing issue. Stanford's Design for Extreme Affordability students and faculty will work with IDE-Myanmar to design and implement a manufacturing system that enables the organization to meet its treadle pump production goals. This will involved investigating local Myanmar manufacturing conditions, designing a production system based around local needs, refining the system, and implementing it. Based on previous research, the team believes introducing an improved manufacturing process for treadle pumps will broadly improve the metalworking sector.
Summer 2009 update: Starting in late 2008, student and faculty teams held workshops at IDE-Myanmar. This team has designed and implemented a handful of jigs and fixtures, as well as set up and iterated a quality control system for metalworking firms. A quarter-long student project assisted IDE-Myanmar with process mapping and production pricing. The team has been able to analyze several rounds of QC data that they helped set up the collection of for IDE-Myanmar, which has allowed them to target areas for improvement. They plan to publish and disseminate their findings on the Burmese metalworking industry.
University of California - Berkeley, 2007 - $38,210
Most solar water heating systems on the market today use advanced materials that are affordable for wealthy clients in developed countries. Our team aims to change that trend by developing a low-cost solar water heater for use in low-income Guatemalan households. The successful implementation of solar water heaters in Guatemala could improve local health and hygiene, promote economic growth, and lessen the impact on the environment at the same time. The team's initial design, which is made to provide hot water for bathing/ showering, consists of three basic components: a heat-collecting surface (absorber), a water bladder, and an insulating material. Two prototypes have been built, and two of the team members have traveled to Guatemala to work with partner NGO Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group (AIDG) in order to gain first-hand information on local conditions and materials. The team is now looking to finalize the design of the heater, explore partnerships with local organizations that can provide financing services that will allow people to buy the heater, conduct surveys of potential users in Guatemala to gauge their energy needs and test the heater in the field. Ultimately, the team will enable local businesses in developing countries to build and sell the heater to local households, creating local job opportunities while realizing the benefits of sustainable technology enterprises.
The team is now called Calsolagua. From their website:
"The CalSolAgua Team has developed an innovative solar water heating system to address the need for clean and inexpensive energy sources for households. It is fully capable of addressing the hot water needs for bathing and laundry: one of highest energy needs facing households. Our team developed a solar water heater that retails for one quarter of the price of competing water tank heaters through detailed design work and three generations of prototyping. With an expected mass manufactured retail price of only $150, our product reduces household energy costs and provides health benefits to those households currently relying on fossil fuel generated electricity for water heating."
Summer 2009 update: The team developed three solar water heater prototypes and has been partnering with AIDG, another Sustainable Vision grantee that launched a venture called Xela Teco. The Berkeley team hopes to license their solar water heater technology to Xela Teco and other potential partners committed to sustainable development. The team is continuing to work on their prototype, which is being tested on 5 installations (4 houses and the local AIDG intern house). The team has made several trips to Guatemala to install systems, monitor them, and collect user feedback. In addition, the team has made two trips to conduct focus groups and other market analysis. Users demonstrated a willingness to adapt their showering habits to maximize the energy savings of the current solar water heater prototype, which provides ample hot water during the day. However, the team is continuing to refine its design to improve overnight heat storage, a customer preference identified through market analysis. Following the successful field-testing of the team's new prototype, the team will file a patent to support the pursuit of larger market opportunities.
Urban air pollution contributes to approximately 800,000 deaths each year, with approximately two-thirds of the deaths occurring in the developing countries of Asia. Transportation is one of the largest contributors to air pollution and is worsening as more cars are being added to the roads. This team will help in the design, testing, manufacturing, and selling of hydraulic hybrid retrofit kits for use in buses and trucks in the developing world. Their aim is to create an economic incentive for customers, where increasing their fuel efficiency will lead to immediate savings for drivers, reducing fuel consumption by 20-30% while simultaneously reducing particulate emissions by 40-50%.
Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world, with approximately 80% of the population engaged in subsistence-level farming or fishing. Nan Kenieba is a collection of eight rural villages in which no resident has access to electricity or phone, and only half of the 7,000 people have access to clean water. The average person earns $1/day. Iowa State University began working in Mali in 2006 with the NGO Medicine for Mali. ISU has established lighting as a primary concern, and an appropriate technology design course in the mechanical engineering department has worked to design lighting solutions using photovoltaic cells and thermoelectric devices. Sixteen prototypes designed in the course were tested in Nana Kenieba, and ISU students partnered with students from the University of Bamako in Mali to survey the costs of different light sources and battery costs. The team will now develop a battery charging station to be run by a local entrepreneur collecting the excess power from a solar-powered water system. The water system's electrical pump demands less power than the output of the solar panels, leaving approximately 300 watts of available power to be used for electricity in the village. Financing will be done through a micro-loan program, and the team will train local entrepreneurs and continue to monitor and support the businesses they launch.
University of Tennessee - Knoxville, 2007 - $49,914
Lead batteries store power from environmentally preferable energy sources, but pollution during manufacturing and recycling of the batteries is a major cause of lead poisoning around the world. The rise in electric vehicles, telecommunications equipment, and computers is fueling rapid growth in battery production, with over three-fourths of all lead going into batteries. With the increase in recycling lead batteries comes and increase in small-scale smelting operations that are extremely inefficient, poison workers, pollute the environment, and contribute to high rates of childhood lead poisoning. This team will partner with Occupational Knowledge International (OK International), which has developed the Better Environmental Sustainability Targets (BEST) certification standards for lead battery manufacturers in India. The team will expand the program to Vietnam, developing policy initiatives on battery collection systems and examining how such efforts could be integrated with the goals of the BEST Certification. They will identify successful battery recycling policies and management programs employed in other countries, examine broader impacts of improved lead recycling and production processes in the context of the expanding motorization in Vietnam, and further articulate the case for controlling exposures from battery manufacturing with eco-labeling incentive programs.
According to the World Health Organization, "cooking and heating with solid fuels such as dung, wood, agricultural residues or coal is likely to be the largest source of indoor air pollution globally. When used in simple cooking stoves, these fuels emit substantial amounts of pollutants, including respirable particles, carbon monoxide, nitrogen and sulfur oxides, and benzene." The Arizona State team will focus in rural areas in Ghana, where 96% of the population uses solid fuels. Through ASU's entrepreneurship program, GlobalResolve, in partnership with Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and with the cooperation of the village chief and elders in Domeabra, the team will produce a fermented, corn-based, gelled ethanol and a companion smokeless stove prototype using local resources in Ghana that can be fabricated, marketed and sold in nearby communities.
One-sixth of the world's people do not have access to safe drinking water, yet there is an abundant supply of freshwater resources, even in severely underdeveloped areas such as Sub-Saharan Africa. The problem is delivering water suitable for human consumption, as contaminated water kills more people than cancer, AIDS, war or accidents. The Savannah State University team will continue working with the Durban University of Technology (DUT) on a low-cost, low-maintenance water purification system using membrane technology. Local facilitators and entrepreneurs, both in the villages and in municipalities, will be trained in the use and maintenance of the system, and students at both institutions will work in product design, market research and develop a business plan.
Although Africa is now the fastest-growing mobile phone market in the world, the role of mobile phones in Africa is currently limited by the narrow scope of the applications relative to the needs of the African people. The aim of this project is to exploit the opportunity for mobile phone and Web design based startups in Africa by educating Senegalese students on how to develop innovative mobile phone applications and Web sites for this emerging market. Pace University will collaborate with Stony Brook University in the US, and Thies University and local associations in Senegal. During a boot camp, students in Senegal will be teamed with Senegalese women business owners and propose solutions adapted to their daily business needs. The mobile phone applications and Web sites will be developed using open source software.
Summer 2009 update: A model of teaching mobile application and Web design for social changes was developed. The ICTEsen model (Information and Communications Technology for Entrepreneurship in Senegal) creates a community of students, provides them with skills in technology, software engineering and entrepreneurship, has them apply those skills on real world projects to produce solutions to be deployed to trained clients, and transfer the acquired skills in the process of creating startups in information and communications technology. The model was implemented during a one-week boot camp that gathered 24 students of Thies University. Three mobile application prototypes and four Web sites were produced during the boot camp. Two students were proposed internships at Manobi (http://www.manobi.net) as part of collaboration between this project and Manobi. The mobile applications and Web sites were improved to be deployed. Nokia provided phones for the deployment of the mobile applications.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Fri, 07/31/2009 - 15:37
Another cool innovation from NCIIA's Sustainable Vision program - the Mashavu healthcare system, created by a team at Penn State. Think Tanzania, where there's one doctor for every 50,000 people, meaning that many never see a doctor in their lives. Think technology: Biomedical diagnostic tools and a data entry system, operated by trained local villagers. The diagnostic system is connected to a network of doctors in the US, who can review the data and prescribe situation-appropriate medical treatment. In this video, team leader Khanjan Mehta describes the technology (clips provided by Cornell University's eClips program).
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Wed, 07/22/2009 - 16:32
NCIIA presents essential training to move your 'base of the pyramid' venture ahead!
Register now for our new Advanced Invention to Venture workshop for ventures that focus on customers in developing nations. The workshop will be held in Cambridge, MA, August 16-19. This intensive, four-day workshop, created especially for 'base of the pyramid' ventures, will followed by eight weeks of weekly, one-hour teleconferences or strategy sessions with coaches and mentors.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Mon, 06/29/2009 - 15:02
Enjoy these video updates from one of our Sustainable Vision teams: Stanford University's project to strengthening manufacturing capacity of Burmese metalworking firms to promote sustained development. The team believes introducing an improved manufacturing process for treadle pumps will eventually diffuse to other areas, broadly improving the local metalworking sector.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Mon, 06/08/2009 - 13:59
For the past two years, a Sustainable Vision team from Baylor University has worked in remote villages in Honduras, helping locals build mini hydro-power stations.
Team leader Brian Thomas reports that the team's company, Village Energy, has launched an electricity generation business in a village called Danto Uno, and is establishing a second business in a nearby village.
Work is also underway to help local people use their new source of energy to spur entrepreneurial activities. A Baylor faculty member, Blaine McCormick, taught entrepreneurship to village people on a recent visit, and already villagers are creating businesses.
Many poor villages in developing countries are located in isolated mountainous areas without access to grid-based electric power. Without access to electricity, villagers burn a variety of fuels for energy, which can lead to respiratory disease and environmental degradation. At the same time, a number of these villages have nearby streams that represent a considerable untapped natural resource for energy creation. This project seeks to take advantage of those streams, creating village-level pico-hydro systems that harness the small mountain streams to produce enough energy to serve the villages.
The team has developed and installed several pico-hydro systems in remote villages in Honduras. The team has replicated the process and made the pico-hydro systems sustainable by building them into community-owned businesses. Specifically, the grant allowed for the development of business plans for two types of companies: franchised power-producing operations in rural villages (villagers running the pico-hydro systems), and system design companies located in nearby urban centers.
University Grants Manager Jennifer Keller Jackson had the opportunity to travel to Peru to learn about UMass Lowell's drip irrigation project (2008 grantee):
Grantees, such as University of Colorado-Boulder's Sustainable Technology Entrepreneurship in Afghanistan team, collaborate with non-profit, for-profit, educational or government partnerto bring socially beneficial products to the poor via an economically sustainable business model (as opposed to traditional philanthropy):
Deforestation is major environmental problem in Rwanda. The High Efficiency Stove Microenterprise team at UC-Boulder is working with Rwandan engineers to develop and market two stoves that better use limited local resources and that burn more efficiently and cleanly.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Wed, 04/29/2009 - 14:22
An NCIIA Sustainable Vision team from MIT has developed a solar thermal microgenerator capable of providing both electricity and heat to the rural areas of South Africa. Read more about this low cost, sustainable project at PlanetGreen.com.
Submitted by NCIIA Guest on Thu, 04/23/2009 - 19:52
Last month Powermundo, an NCIIA Sustainable Vision grantee from Colorado State University, won $1,000 in the Foundation for a Sustainable Future and the William James Foundation's Richard Heinberg Prize awards.
Powermundo is a supply network that provides 'green-tech' products to the Peruvian market. Read more about the awards, visit Powermundo's website to learn more about the project, and watch a video about Powermundo.
The Georgia Tech Research Institute in partnership with the Emory University Center for Global Safe Water have designed, built and tested an innovative solar sanitation system for use in developing countries. Field prototypes of the systems have been constructed in rural areas in Bolivia with a local foundation partner. This system heats waste to temperatures in excess of 50 degrees Celsius (140 F), which destroys disease causing micro-organisms and bacteria. Addition of lime or ash increases pH to promote microbial inactivation. The waste is rendered harmless for use as fertilizer within weeks.
The objectives of this research are to
conduct basic engineering and clinical research to further evaluate the field performance of initial prototype systems (temperature, pH and heating times needed for microbial inactivation)
construct and field test advanced prototypes in Bolivia
establish micro-financing and NGO partners for rapid and scalable use of the technology.
Drinking water drawn from underground sources has caused extensive arsenic poisoning among villagers in remote areas in Cambodia. Consequently, there is an urgent need for sustainable treatment processes that can provide arsenic-safe water to the affected population. This Sustainable Vision project aims to develop and implement a sustainable, community-based, wellhead technology modeled after an arsenic removal system operating successfully on the Indian subcontinent. More than 175 such units currently provide arsenic-safe water to nearly 200,000 villagers in West Bengal, India (near the Bangladesh border), a geologically and socially similar region. The project will place the arsenic removal technology at schools and other selected locations.
Summer 2009 update: The project is in progress to install the first community based system in a village near Pnom Penh, Cambodia.
University of Massachusetts - Lowell, 2008 - $46,839
The aim of this project is to provide small farmers in developing countries with an affordable solar drip irrigation method that promotes the sustainable use of water and energy. The world’s food security relies on improving irrigation techniques for smallholder agriculture in developing countries. The common irrigation practice is flooding with seasonal water gravity fed systems or diesel/gasoline-powered pumps. Solar pumps are clean, efficient and have lower maintenance. Drip irrigation (DI) is 40% more efficient than furrow. Depending on the crop, DI could allow three harvests per year instead of one in the rainy season, generating enough income to pay for the system.
Solar panel for the irrigation system.
Summer 2009 update: A prototype system has been installed on a small farm in Peru; results to date are positive.
NCIIA awarded Pace University a Sustainable Vision grant in 2007 to provide Senegalese students from the Thies University with the skills to exploit the opportunity for mobile phone and Web design based startups in Africa. Thies University students are currently competing to see who will take part in the next boot camp for mobile application development and Web design, while students from Pace University and partner institution Stony Brook University are participating in course on mobile application development for social changes.
This work will be expanded to grow a network by involving more students, faculty and universities, as well as stakeholders from the information and communication technologies industry and real clients from diverse Senegalese communities. Faculty training and courses will be conducted in universities in Senegal. Replication of the model will be encouraged with the purpose of providing students in Senegal with opportunities to implement their ideas.
University of Thiès students working on new software applications of various cell phones.
Summer 2009 update: Thies University students are currently competing to see who will take part in the next boot camp for mobile application development and Web design, while students from Pace University and partner institution Stony Brook University are participating in courses on mobile application development for social changes. A network has been built and organized using the MobileSenegal Ning network available at http://mobilesenegal.ning.com. It involves students, faculty and universities, as well as stakeholders from the information and communication technologies industry and real clients from diverse Senegalese communities and even international organizations. A faculty training was conducted for 22 faculty of 7 universities in Senegal to encourage faculty to join the network and discover the field of mobile application development. The network is currently organizing a mobile application competition open to all university students in the country.
To address the fact that over half of the world's population does not have access to safe and affordable products to meet their basic needs for simple tasks, PowerMundo was established as an innovative marketing, wholesale distribution, and micro-franchise company that connects people living in poverty to a network of sustainable resources. PowerMundo collaborates with non-profit organizations, private enterprises, educational and government partners to manage a worldwide distribution network for appropriate technology products. They also support local economic development in emerging markets. PowerMundo also provides opportunities for Colorado State University students to assist in the business planning and implementation. As a result, people's lives are improved, employment opportunities are created and natural resources are conserved.
PowerMundo lantern being used in a Peruvian village.
GlobalResolve, a social entrepreneurship program at Arizona State University, will expand a successful project in village-based entrepreneurship that has resulted in the production of smokeless cooking fuel in the rural west African village of Domeabra, Ghana. More than 2 million children in the developing world are dying every year from acute respiratory disease caused by fumes from indoor cooking fires. To address this problem, in 2008 an Arizona State University team designed, built, shipped and installed a gelfuel production facility in Domeabra, and the project is on the verge of making dramatic improvements in public health throughout the region. The next step is helping to make this startup business successful and replicable. In partnership with the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Kumasi, Ghana, the Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy and Environment, and the village chief and elders in Domeabra, this team has the primary objective to create a sustainable business model in Domeabra, Ghana, to produce, market and distribute both gelfuel and improved stoves in the region.
Villanova engineering and business students are forming a partnership with the Save the Ifugao Rice Terraces Movement Organization (SITMo) and the Provincial Governor's Office of Ifugao to develop new technology-based enterprises for providing clean water and energy in the Ifugao region of the Philippines. An orientation program is being established to prepare for a site visit to explore potential opportunities.
Villanova student and Louis Cabigat assessing the Abatan Micro Hydro system.
Summer 2009 update: Following the site visit, students will develop new technologies based primarily on innovative micro-hydroelectric projects, and explore potential business models for the technology transfer. The students will then return to the Philippines to work with partners to develop sustainable enterprises based on these new technologies.
Mashavu enables medical professionals around the world to connect with patients in the developing world using modern technology and communications infrastructure. The goal is to bring basic medical care to people in developing countries, using laptops, cell phones, innovative software and simple medical devices.
Trained operators at Mashavu stations in developing communities collect essential medical information including weight, body temperature, lung capacity, blood pressure, photographs, stethoscope rhythms, and basic hygiene and nutrition information for each patient on a regular basis. Web servers aggregate this information from various Mashavu stations over a cell-phone link and provide it on a web-based portal. Medical professionals can view the patient’s information and respond to the patient and the nearest doctor(s) with their recommendations. Validation efforts have shown that numerous entities are willing to purchase Mashavu stations. They can charge customers a small fee, thereby making Mashavu economically sustainable and creating an additional revenue stream.
Students and villagers working at a Mashavu station.
Lower respiratory infections are the second leading cause of death in Rwanda. Many of these deaths can be attributed to indoor air pollution from cooking stoves that can simply be described as indoor campfires. It is hard to believe that the cost of this deadly wood represents the majority of a Rwandan family’s household income because of the large deforestation problem. To alleviate this problem, students from the University of Colorado at Boulder Engineers Without Borders Chapter designed and implemented a high efficiency stove to better utilize limited resources and provide cleaner more efficient cooking conditions. The stoves are made from all local materials including pumice, an abundant resource in the area with ideal thermal properties.
Summer 2009 Update: After the success of this project and interest from Rwandans, the project is ready to be taken to the next level and converted to a sustainable micro-enterprise, eventually led and owned by Rwandan citizens. This will not only alleviate much of the clear-cutting of trees, but also increase the financial stability in Rwanda.
Below, team member Christie Chatterley talks about the Sustainable Vision workshop she attended, and how it helped.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2008 - $47,031
Worldwide 1.6 billion people lack access to electricity or affordable energy solutions. For those living in rural or mountainous locations Diesel generator sets are polluting and require costly fuel; photovoltaic panels have a high up-front cost and high risk of theft. Locally produced solar thermal technology, by lowering costs relative to these alternatives, can facilitate distributed electricity provision and result in increased economic opportunity, extended waking hours for study, time saved from chores, and improved services from the business, heath and education sectors. This directly translates into an overall reduction in poverty, better living conditions at rural institutions, and improved quality of life, while stimulating the local economy and providing jobs. Indirectly, by generating power renewably, the proposed electrification scheme contributes to lowering the risks related to climate change and decreases brushwood collection and land degradation. By using a technology transfer approach and supporting local business development, the Sustainable Vision grantees aim to provide a sustainable, renewable, and affordable energy option for rural locations. Working in conjunction with local partners, including the Government and National University of Lesotho, entrepreneurs and engineers, the team intends to install a pilot system at a rural health care center to serve 50-80 patients/day, arrange technology transfer and training for Lesotho-based partners, and complete a viable business plan for a Solar ORC manufacturing facility within Lesotho to foster ongoing installations at clinics and schools through market-based mechanisms.
Cynthia Lin takes pressure data in a solar ORC test rig.
The team has two test sites in place, one in Lesotho at a clinic and the other at Eckerd College. Eleven units have been distributed in the US, Brazil, Mexico, UK, Portugal, Angola, and India. The team won a 100K Energy Prize from Conoco Phillips and $42,500 grant from Constellation Energy.
Africa is experiencing a mobile phone revolution. With a 5,000% subscriber growth rate between 1998 and 2003, the phenomenal mobile expansion has already led to a number of unforeseen, unorthodox uses of phones. However, even amidst the excitement of this expansion, there remains a dearth of second-tier growth in the mobile industry—specifically, the development of services leveraging the infrastructure deployed across the continent for socio-economic good.
This team is going to create a skill-mixing partnership: an exchange of core competencies via a collaborative effort between multi-disciplinary, well-resourced Western engineering students and bright, innovative African technologists. The mobile phone provides an excellent anvil for forging such a partnership due to the typically short product development cycle, low startup costs and the nascent nature of the field. The sustainable vision conveyed in this grant leverages the current underutilization of mobile phones by building bottoms-up applications based on existing user behavior, and in turn generating new ventures by student founders. The initiative will act as a conveyor belt for innovative mobile applications for socio-economic development.
Using computers to create new applications of mobile phones.
Sustainable Vision grants fund educational programs in which student teams create and commercialize technologies that benefit people living in poverty.
Since 2006, over 60 Sustainable Vision grants have been awarded to NCIIA member / US universities to innovate, commercialize, and distribute technologies in the US and 30+ countries in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Grantees have access to funding and a network of peers and development & entrepreneurship experts. Programs must address poverty alleviation and basic human needs and may focus on opportunities and needs in the US or abroad. Funds may be requested to support the creation of new programs or for the improvement and/or significant expansion of an ongoing program.
Sustainable Vision grants range in size from $2,000 to $50,000; the grant period is 1 to 3 years.
Note: If you have a proposal for an educational course or program that does not focus on developing technologies specifically for people living in poverty, we encourage you to apply for a Course and Program grant.
Please note that applicants may not submit both a Sustainable Vision proposal and a Course and Program proposal for the same idea.
If you are part of a team focused on the development and deployment of a specific technology-based solution to poverty alleviation (not an educational program), we encourage you to apply for NCIIA’s E-Team Program.
Who May Apply
Faculty and staff from NCIIA member colleges and universities may apply; collaboration with individuals from education, non-profits and NGOs, government and industry is encouraged; however, Sustainable Vision proposals must be submitted by a US college or university as the lead institution.
NCIIA grant funds are awarded to US-based colleges and universities and can then be disbursed to partners (other universities, NGOs, etc.) in the US and abroad.
If you have questions about the status of your institution's NCIIA membership, please contact us.
The more SPECIFIC, CLEAR and COMPELLING your proposal is, the more competitive your proposal will be. Typically, proposals have a 15-20% chance of getting funded. Proposals may request support for a single course, a course sequence, a certificate program, a minor or major, extracurricular programs or a combination of these. NCIIA encourages proposals that involve students and advisors from engineering, science, business, design, and liberal arts disciplines, as well as groups traditionally underrepresented in invention, innovation, and entrepreneurship, including women and minorities.
Successful Sustainable Vision grant proposals include these elements:
New or expanded university courses, certificate programs, minors, majors, and/or extracurricular programs with a focus on technology invention and innovation to address poverty alleviation and basic human needs.
The formation of multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial student E-Teams* to develop technology-based solutions to critical national and global problems.
A focus on entrepreneurship and support for promising student teams (connections to people and resources on campus and beyond to support commercialization) who want to continue to develop their technology and business model after participation in the proposed course/program.
A plan for continuation (and financial sustainability) of the course or program post NCIIA funding.
Experiential learning by doing and creative pedagogical approaches to solving real world problems.
*What’s an E-Team? NCIIA defines an E-Team as a multidisciplinary group of students, faculty, and industry mentors working together to bring a technology-based invention (product or service) to market. The "E" stands for entrepreneurship.
Sustainable Vision grants fund programs dedicated to the development of technology inventions and innovations in areas such as: energy, health (medical devices, sanitation, etc.), clean air and water, nutrition and agriculture, IT and shelter. Other compelling applications beyond those listed above that meet the Sustainable Vision program criteria will also be considered.
The following institutional representatives must verify their support of your proposal by responding to an automated email request from the grants system (triggered within the online proposal process) prior to final submission.
Principal Investigator (PI) The Principal Investigator takes primary responsibility for the proposal and will have overall responsibility for the grant and reporting. Ideally, a tenured or tenure-track faculty and/or staff member serves as the Principal Investigator. Co-PIs are allowed but 1 lead PI must be identified. Students cannot serve as Principal Investigators.
Administrative Contact (AC) The NCIIA defines the Administrative Contact as a grants administrator or fiscal officer authorized to commit the institution to the terms of the grant. Often, the AC is someone in your institution's Office of Sponsored Research or an administrator able to manage grant funding within a department or school. Neither the Principal Investigator nor students may serve as the AC.
Note: NCIIA strongly encourages that you contact your Office of Sponsored Programs/Research or the equivalent well ahead (2+ weeks) of the submission deadline to inform them of your intention to submit a proposal. Many colleges and universities require a full proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted.
Department Chair (DC) The Department Chair (or equivalent) will need to indicate his/her awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposed program or project.
Dean of Faculty (DF) The Dean of Faculty (or equivalent) will need to indicate his/her awareness of and support for your proposal as a demonstration of institutional commitment to the proposed program or project.
The NCIIA supports programs that lead to the creation of E-Teams as they work toward commercialization of their inventions. Ownership of discoveries or inventions resulting from activities financed by NCIIA grant funds will be governed by grantee institutions’ intellectual property policies. If a school does not have an intellectual property policy, then the institution must develop an E-Team agreement that establishes ownership of ideas resulting from E-Team work. The NCIIA takes no financial or ownership interest in the projects funded by these grants.
All program applications must be submitted online. Anyone on the team may serve as the applicant on a submission. ALL proposal deadlines end at 11:59 pm eastern time on the specified due date unless otherwise indicated.
To start, you’ll need to have an NCIIA account. Creating an account is easy, and anyone can do it. To access an existing account or to create a new one, click here. You may start, save, stop, and return to your online proposal at anytime before submitting.
PLEASE NOTE: this PDF includes screen shots of NCIIA's 5-step proposal process. The proposal content shown may vary slightly from the Sustainable Vision grant proposal, but steps for the application are the same. This PDF is for preview purposes only.
1) REQUIRED: Proposal Narrative Your proposal narrative may not exceed 5 pages in length using 12-point Times font and 1-inch margins. Address the following in your narrative:
Proposed course and/or program description
What are you proposing to develop? Be specific: for example, is it a course or a program? Is it a certificate program, a major or minor, or an extracurricular opportunity? Please differentiate between program elements that exist and anything new that you are proposing.
What is the technology invention/innovation area of focus?
Is there an experiential component for students and approximately how many teams/students will be involved?
Will the proposed course or program lead to the creation of student E-Teams? Will resulting teams be multidisciplinary (encouraged but not required)?
Is there potential for positive educational, social, and/or environmental impacts?
History and context
What gap(s) are you addressing on your campus; what do you feel is missing?
Provide a 1-2 paragraph background of how the program or project began and what has been accomplished so far (if anything).
What institutional and financial support have you received for your work?
Team and partners
In 1-2 sentences (each), describe the role of the key individuals involved with delivering and supporting the proposed course and/or program.
Have you identified partners (individuals, community leaders, nonprofits or NGOs, etc.) outside of your institution who will provide connections and access to the field and end-users?
Have you identified partners who will help promising teams commercialize any resulting technologies? Describe the "entrepreneurial ecosystem" that your students will have access to on your campus and in the local community.
How will the team address possible language, cultural, and social barriers? Has the team traveled yet to the community in which you propose to work?
How many US-based students will be involved and what roles will they play? Is there a role for non-US based students (not required)?
Work plan and outcomes
What are the milestones you hope to achieve during the grant period? Present in a table format with a timeline.
How will E-Teams be formed and how many do you anticipate working with per year?
Beyond the grant
How will you evaluate your course/program beyond student evaluations?
How will your partners measure success, and how will you include your partners in the evaluation process?
Will the course or program continue beyond the end of the grant period? If so, how will it be funded? Is your program replicable?
If your program is international in focus and you have requested funds for travel abroad, how will these expenses be supported beyond the proposed grant period?
Including specific budget justifications is a critical piece in helping reviewers understand how you intend to spend grant funds. Provide your justifications in the "justifications" section in the budget template or in a separate sheet; the more detail in the justifications the better.
Grant funds may be proposed for expenses related to curricular development and course or program realization. Equipment and other resources purchased with grant funds become the property of the institution.
Note: Sustainable Vision grant funds cannot cover institutional overhead but can provide personnel costs of up to $10,000; the $10,000 maximum includes any applicable cost of fringe benefits.
Eligible expenses examples:
Equipment expenses (NCIIA will typically not fund the purchase of equipment that is considered part of college or university infrastructure. Equipment expenses should be less than 1/3 the total proposed budget).
Personnel costs up to $10,000 (may be divided or proposed for 1 person, and includes the cost of any applicable fringe benefits).
Expenses related to early implementation of program, including materials & supplies, prototyping, technical services, and testing.
Expenses related to students’ performing patent searches or creating marketing analyses, or business plans.
Ineligible expenses examples:
Overhead: NCIIA does not cover institutional overhead.
Personnel costs over the $10,000 maximum.
Equipment expenses totaling more than 1/3 the total proposed budget.
Speaker honoraria over $200.
Wages for students during the academic year.
Student stipends over the $5,000 maximum.
Legal and other expenses of business formation or operation.
3. REQUIRED: Letter(s) of Support Letters of support should demonstrate to reviewers that there is ongoing institutional support for your project and/or technical competence and market opportunity in the proposed work. Letters can also serve to verify partnerships discussed in your proposal narrative or verify additional funding to complement the proposed budget. At least 1 letter is required, up to 3 will be accepted.
4. REQUIRED: Resumes Include resumes from the Principal Investigator and any other key collaborators. We do not need resumes for the Administrative Contact or other non-key team members/collaborators. Up to 4 resumes are allowed and they should be no more than 3 pages each.
Optional: Additional Appendices Up to 5 additional (optional) supporting documents may be combined into 1 PDF file and uploaded as an appendix item. Relevant supporting materials including curricula, photographs, and syllabi are welcome.
Note: Sheer volume of material is not an asset. Reviewers are directed to use supporting materials only to supplement the 5-page narrative. Therefore, key information should be included in the narrative.
Optional: Weblinks and/or Videos In addition to supporting documents, applicants may upload up to 4 links to websites, online articles, videos and other relevant online data that will inform and provide context for the proposed program.
Submitted proposals are reviewed by external panels of reviewers made up of individuals from academia, industry, non-profits, and NGOs and development experts from the US and around the world.
NCIIA strives to notify applicants of the status of their proposals via email within 90 days of the submission deadline. In some cases, NCIIA may ask for additional information and/or clarification after the proposal has been submitted.
All applicants and PIs will receive notification via email as to whether or not their proposal has been selected for funding. In most cases, proposals are either funded or rejected. If your proposal is rejected, detailed reviewer comments are not shared in writing but applicants may contact NCIIA if they are interested in hearing a summary of reviewer feedback.
Occasionally, reviewers invite a team to resubmit their proposal in a future cycle for re-consideration, after certain concerns or questions are addressed. Applicants invited by reviewers to resubmit should contact NCIIA to discuss the reviewer feedback in detail and make sure they understand the questions and concerns raised. Resubmitted proposals must specify how previous concerns have been addressed. We strongly suggest teams resubmitting clearly mark a section of the narrative "Addressing Previous Reviewer Concerns."
Funds are awarded to US-based colleges and universities.
The Principal Investigator will receive a notification letter and approved budget via email.
NCIIA will send an award letter agreement for signature to the Administrative Contact identified by the team. Once this award letter is signed and returned to NCIIA, funds can be disbursed.
Sustainable Vision grant recipients are required to participate in the NCIIA annual conference and pre-conference workshop (Sustainable Vision Connect). The gathering is an opportunity to share your work and discuss the dissemination of transferable models and materials.
Reporting for Grantees Reporting requirements will be outlined in the award letter. Principal Investigators for NCIIA grants are prompted via email (usually once each year) to complete reports online. Failure to submit reports may jeopardize your institution’s eligibility for future grants and pending payments. If you receive a grant, reporting deadlines will be detailed in your award letter. Click here to preview sample interim and final reports.
Congratulations, you read the guidelines! If you are still unsure about whether your idea is a fit, email a 1 paragraph abstract for feedback to email@example.com or call the grants team at (413) 587-2172.
This proposal is a continuation of a sustainable Vision grant awarded to ASU last year to design and build an ethanol gelfuel manufacturing plant. ASU now proposes to partner with the Kumasi Institute of Technology, Energy and Environment, the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology and the village chief and elders in Domeabra, Ghana to begin developing the gelfuel industry.
This ASU proposal seeks to 1) study the market and monitor the acceptance and market penetration of gelfuel in Domeabra and Kumasi; 2) develop ultra low-cost stoves designed to work with gelfuel that will be produced in Domeabra; and 3) help Domeabra make a supply chain for raw materials and marketing/distribution of the gelfuel and stoves.
Anticipated Outcome of Project:
The establishment of a supply chain for the raw materials and the marketing and distribution of gel fuel and low cost stoves. New jobs and revenue streams for Ghanaian entrepreneurs and a reduced dependence on wood burning stoves.
Why Project Should be Funded:
The project has made significant technical advances, but more remains to be done in order to launch a sustainable venture. If successful, this program could significantly reduce indoor pollution and resulting respiratory health problems.
Use of Funds:
Funding is requested for stipends, prototyping, travel expenses and indirect costs.
Getting appropriate technology to rural areas in Peru is very difficult due to the geographical dispersion of the approximately 70,000 rural communities living in extreme poverty. To help solve the problem, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) is collaborating with Grupo de Apoyo al Sector Rural at the Pontificia Universidad del Peru, and the Inca-Bus mobile technology education program in Peru, to create and build systems for sustainable sources of energy, clean water, and air for the rural population using interdisciplinary student design teams from the Engineers for a Sustainable World and Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers chapters at RPI. Projects will be identified and evaluated based on impact on basic human needs and potential for commercialization, providing long-term sources of income for these communities. The plan also includes curriculum development, student life and professional development, as well as research and technology transfer
Northwestern University has an undergraduate capstone design course that includes travel for students to work with researchers at the University of Cape Town in Africa. While students have been able to provide clear needs assessments and propose solutions to identified problems, it has become clear that there needs to be a way to maintain continuity on these projects so that they ultimately become product solutions. This grant supports the creation of an MS program as a way to further support the capstone projects. Specifically, the outcome of this project will be a new program that forms a track within the existing MS and BS-MS programs, but requires additional formal training in Healthcare Technology Management at the University of Cape Town and experience in acting as team leaders for the capstone project teams
With this grant, the service learning program at PSU will work to improve rural Kenyans’ economic well-being by addressing challenges of low agricultural productivity due to the use of simple instruments and tools. Service learning program-enrolled PSU students will work with students from the University of Nairboi and Moi University in improving a variety of devices, concentrating on making manually powered machines that significantly improve productivity. These devices will come with attachments that allow the machine to be powered by a small attachable petrol engine. It is expected that farmers' incomes will increase with the use of the improved manual devices, making it possible for them to purchase an engine, thus increasing productivity even further. Examples of potential devices include water pumps, electric generators, posho mills, decorticators, tillers, and power tools
For this grant, Ithaca College is partnering with Ecuadorian NGO Fundacion Maquipucuna (FM), an established organization with non-profit and for-profit wings that sells a range of fair trade, organic products in the US and elsewhere under its brand name, Choco-Andese. The partnership is meant to develop micro-enterprises in Ecuador based around poverty alleviation and environmental sustainability and will build on the ideas of students participating in a course administered this past year.
Ithaca hopes to send more students to Ecuador with this project and bring in partners for work on other projects, such as partnering with Cornell to use synthetic roof thatch made out of waste plastic to make homes more comfortable by absorbing heat