Thanks to our collab partners Origo Global Business Advisors, NNC was again invited to meet the 25 Laureates of the Tech Awards. (NextNower Rob Stephenson was also there as the Tech Museum’s Curator of The Virtual Tech). Each year The Tech Museum in San Jose honors 25 Laureates worldwide for their innovative use of technology to benefit humanity. These Laureates are acknowledged for their brilliant accomplishments in addressing some of the most critical issues facing our planet in five categories. This year, instead of a champagne reception (because of Veteran’s Day), it was an 8:30 a.m. “where’s-the-coffee?” event held at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose.
Bill Drayton, founder of Ashoka Innovators for the Public and one of the original coiners of the term “social entrepreneurship” gave the final address before we were set free to visit the exhibits of each of the Laureates. Bill appeared very soft-spoken but his speech was the most passionate. What I heard him say that I really liked:
1. If the entire United States doesn’t want to end up as “one big Detroit,” we have to adopt an “everyone is a change-maker” model. He estimated we have about ten years to do this. Awareness of this is already building, but we have to get over the awareness-tipping process and into everyone becoming a change-maker at some level. What will get us through is having the “highest proportion of change-makers working at the highest levels of change-making together.”
2. His analogy was that every human needed to become like a smart white-blood cell–we see something that needs to change, and we collaborate to change it.
3. The real role of social entrepreneurs is to be “mass recruiters and facilitators of local change-makers.”
4. Human empathy is as important as technology in creating effective social change. The development of empathy in people is critical to developing effective change-makers, who will have to be “humans with a high level of human skills.” We have to stop “footbinding the spirits of people” by excluding them from the process of contributing to society because they don’t have the skills.
5. The most profound source of change is not at the symptom level but is at the level of the structure of human systems.
Here’s the list of Laureates chosen as among the best innovators “using technology to make the world safer and healthier, more prosperous and just.” The countries in parentheses are (Laureate Country/Project Country); the winners are in bold:
2008 Intel Environment Award
Arcadia Biosciences (United States/China) deploys technology to engineer crops that need less fertilizer, so farmers can grow more food while creating less pollution.
The Cheetah Conservation Fund (Namibia/Namibia) uses technology to convert an invasive species into clean fuel while restoring habitats.
Practical Action (Peru/Peru) developed small-scale hydropower technology to bring electricity to isolated villages in Peru.
Sunlabob (Laos/Cambodia, Laos, Uganda) created technology to make solar lights commercially competitive with kerosene.
Vereinigte Werkstätten für Pflanzenöltechnologie (Germany/Galapagos, Germany, Educado) modified diesel technology to create engines that run on pure plant oil.
2008 Accenture Economic Development Award
DESI Power (India/India) helps poor villages in India build local power plants and launch micro-enterprises to alleviate poverty.
NComputing (United States/90 countries, including Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Congo, Macedonia, Mongolia, Qatar, Thailand, and Yemen) uses desktop virtualization technology that allows one computer to bring information technology to many.
The Solar Electric Light Fund (United States/Benin) powers drip irrigation with solar technology so farmers can cultivate income-generating crops year-round.
The Full Belly Project (United States/Malawi, Mali, the Philippines, Uganda, Haiti) develops technologies to help subsistence farmers increase their incomes and relieve hunger.
The Portable Light Project (United States/Brazil, Mexico, Nicaragua, Venezuelan and Brazilian Amazonas, South Africa) embeds flexible solar nano-technology into textiles that can harvest energy and generate light. Rocky Mountain Institute is working with them to scale the project.
2008 Microsoft Education Award
Aaron Doering’s Go North! Adventure Learning Series (United States/30 countries, including Australia, Canada, Denmark, India, New Zealand, The Republic of Korea, United Kingdom, and United States) engages satellite communications and multi-media technology so students can learn about culture and climate change.
The Center for Puppetry Arts (United States/Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, United States) employs interactive video conferencing technology to bring creative, hands-on learning experiences into the classroom.
Curriki (United States/Australia, Canada, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, South Africa, United Kingdom, United States) uses Internet technology so that educators can share and co-develop free, high-quality instructional materials.
Dániel Rátai (Hungary/Hungary) developed technology to provide teachers with interactive three-dimensional blackboards so that far more students can master math and science.
Digital StudyHall (India/Bangladesh, India) uses digital video technology to extend the reach of skilled teachers into underprivileged classrooms in India and Bangladesh.
2007 Katherine M. Swanson Award
Build Change (United States/China, Indonesia) designs earthquake-resistant construction technology and trains local builders and homeowners to make homes that can save lives in a disaster.
The DAISY Consortium‘s (United States/45 countries, including Brazil, China, Germany, Japan, South Africa, and Vietnam) AMIS project uses technology to make printed information accessible to people with disabilities around the world, free of cost.
Hany El Miniawy (Egypt/Algeria, Egypt) designs technology that allows low-income communities to move out of inhumane housing and into good quality, economical homes.
In LifeLines India project, OneWorld South Asia (India/India) employs telephone and database technology to connect poor farmers to critical agricultural information.
SKG Sangha (India/India) fuses biogas and composting technologies, empowering women to earn money and live in healthier environments.
2008 Health Award
DataDyne.org (United States/Benin, DRC, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe) crafted technology so healthcare workers can quickly gather essential public health data.
Marc Koska Star Syringe (United Kingdom/41 countries including Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Denmark, Myanmar, Nicaragua, and Sri Lanka) developed non-reusable syringe technology to stop the medical transmission of blood-borne diseases.
MedMira (Canada/Europe, Sierra Leone, Romania, Russia, China, India, Indonesia) invented rapid flow-through technology so that a single test can detect HIV and Hepatitis in three minutes.
The Pesticide Action Network (United States/Germany, the Philippines, South Africa, United States) devised air-monitoring technology that allows people to detect and fight toxic pesticide exposure.
Sanoussi Diakité (Senegal/Benin, Burkina Faso, Cape Verde, Chad, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo) created technology to dehull fonio, a nutritious grain that can help relieve famine in Africa.