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.
Note: Effective Fall 2012, the Sustainable Vision program guidelines have changed in the following ways:
Sustainable Vision grants now focus on supporting educational programs only. If you are part of a team focused on the development and deployment of a specific technology-based solution to poverty alleviation, we encourage you to apply for NCIIA’s NEW E-Team Program.
Applicants may not apply for a Course & Program grant and a Sustainable Vision grant for the same idea during the same grant cycle.
Please review these new guidelines prior to preparing your submission.
Sustainable Vision (SV) grants fund transformational education programs in which technologies are created for the benefit of people living in poverty and deployed in an entrepreneurial, scalable way. Projects 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/expansion of ongoing programs.
If you have a proposal for a new course or program that does not focus on developing technologies specifically for people living in poverty,we encourage you to apply for a Course & Program grant.
The goals of the Sustainable Vision grants program are to:
Create and improve new or existing 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.
Support the formation of multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial student teams within courses and programs to develop inventions and innovations to address critical global problems.
Establish a network of faculty and students in the US and beyond who are working to solve large global problems with technology solutions and an entrepreneurial approach.
Program details Sustainable Vision grants range in size from $2,000 to $50,000; the grant period is 1 to 3 years. The annual application deadline is in November.
Sustainable Vision grants support educational programs that apply technology inventions and innovations and include strong experiential and entrepreneurial components. Program models should be able to be institutionalized beyond the grant period with a mechanism for the most promising E-Team projects to continue and scale. Programs must focus on technology solutions that address poverty and/or environmental degradation and meet basic human needs.
If you are interested in applying for grant funds to strengthen or develop a program that does not focus on the development of technology solutions specifically for people living in poverty, we encourage you to apply for a Course and Program grant.
If you are part of a team focused on the development and deployment of a specific technology-based solution to poverty alleviation, we encourage you to apply for NCIIA’s E-Team Program.
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 typically fund programs dedicated to the development of technology inventions and innovations in the following areas of application: • Energy • Health (medical devices, sanitation, etc.) • Clean air and water • Nutrition and agriculture • IT • Shelter
Other compelling applications beyond those listed above that meet the Sustainable Vision program criteria will also be considered.
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.
Selection criteria 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.
Eligible applications will be evaluated against the following 6 elements:
Scientific and technological inventions and innovations addressing the needs of people living in poverty
Positive social and/or environmental impact
An experiential approach that leads to the formation of student E-Teams
A focus on entrepreneurial solutions rather than an aid or charity model
Team composition, commitment, and expertise (including local partners, collaborators, faculty and advisors)
Sustainability and potential replicability beyond the grant period
Note: Effective Fall 2012, the Sustainable Vision program guidelines have changed. Sustainable Vision grants now focus on supporting educational programs only. If you are part of a team focused on the development and deployment of a specific technology-based solution to poverty alleviation, we encourage you to apply for NCIIA’s NEW E-Team Program.
Institutional representatives 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.
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.
Applicants should contact their Office of Sponsored Grants/Research or the equivalent well ahead (weeks) of our grant deadline to inform them they want to submit a proposal. Many colleges and universities require a full proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted to NCIIA.
Intellectual Property policies 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.
How to apply All program applications must be submitted online. Anyone on the team may serve as the applicant on a submission. ALL proposal deadlines end at 11:59pm 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.
You may preview a PDF of the online application here. 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) 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 is 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 students will be involved?
How will the proposed course or program lead to the creation of student E-Teams? Are these US-based students or are there teams with both US and international students? (US-based students involvement is required). Is the team multidisciplinary (multidisciplinary teams are encouraged but not required)?
What are the intended educational, social, and/or environmental impacts?
History and context
Provide a brief background of how the program or project began and what has been accomplished so far (if anything).
What gap(s) are you addressing on your campus; what do you feel is missing?
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" on your campus and in your community that teams can access (other faculty members, departments, entrepreneurship centers, incubators, colleges, etc.). This support may go beyond the proposed course or program, but proposals should demonstrate that support is available for some teams to further develop a path to market.
How will the team address possible language, cultural, and social barriers? Has the team traveled 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 program development 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?
2. Proposed budget Your budget demonstrates to reviewers how you intend to achieve the objectives proposed in your 5-page narrative. NCIIA requires you to use the provided SV budget template which you can download here. Including specific budget justifications is 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.
Faculty stipend up to $20,000 (may be divided or proposed for 1 person and includes the cost of any applicable fringe benefits)
Graduate student(s) stipend up to $5,000 (total)
Expenses related to early implementation of program, including materials & prototypes and testing
Travel expenses related to network development and program plans or attendance at related meetings - be sure to justify travel expenses and how travel expenses will be sustained beyond the proposed grant period
Up to 5% institutional overhead if required
Ineligible expenses include, but are not limited to:
Undergraduate student stipends
Institutional overhead above 5% of the total budget
3. 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. Resumes for key team members 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 supporting documents 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.
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 selelcted 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 formal notification letter and approved budget.
NCIIA will send an award letter contract 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 attend a 1-time workshop during NCIIA’s Annual Conference in March. The gathering is an opportunity to share your work, learn about periodic program evaluation and follow-through, and discuss the dissemination of transferable models and materials. In addition to the grant, a stipend for travel and other workshop/NCIIA annual conference expenses will be provided to approved grantees.
Reporting for grantees Reporting requirements will be outlined in the award letter. Principal Investigators for NCIIA grants are responsible for reporting on grant activities within a specified timeframe and 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.
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