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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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