16 October 2012 – South Africa’s ministry of science and technology has encouraged the country’s citizens to showcase their innovations on the global stage by entering a competition seeking technology solutions to development challenges. It has endorsed the competition aimed at small businesses, inventors, researchers, NGOs and technology organisations.

Prize money of R2 million is available to 23 winners of the six-month competition known as the empowering people award. The competition was launched by the Siemens Stiftung (foundation) at the Rio +20 sustainable development conference in June 2012.

Entries are invited in six categories:

  • Water & Waste Water
  • Energy, Food & Agriculture
  • Waste Management & Recycling
  • Housing & Construction
  • Healthcare
  • Information & Communication Technology

The competition aims to make innovative technology more accessible to the development community, and to empower people to improve their own social and economic conditions.
Innovators and developer teams are invited to submit a proven product or solution that can help combat development challenges by providing better access to appropriate technology.
The Siemens Stiftung has urged South Africans to enter. “Whether you are a school, university, research institution, NGO, company or inventor, everybody in South Africa who has invented a technology solution to basic development challenges is invited to take part in the competition,” Ulrike Wahl, managing director of the Siemens Stiftung, says.

Ideas and projects entered into the competition will be made available to governments, innovators and development organisations through a global database which provides access to knowledge and financial resources. Entrants and their projects will become visible to international partners and investors.

The database will stimulate new research and help people and organisations working in development to share best practice, interact with counterparts in other parts of the world, and benefit from international solutions to local challenges.

Entries close at midnight CET on 31 December 2012.

The first prize, to be awarded in June 2013 by the Siemens Stiftung, is about R500,000, the second prize is R300,000 with Euros R200,000 for third place. Further awards of about R50,000 will be given to 20 runners up. All intellectual properties will remain with the inventor or team. The entries will be valued by an interdisciplinary and international jury.

Types of entries:

Water & Waste Water
Entries should enable individuals or communities to create, maintain and manage their water supply and/or their waste water treatment. Entries can range from less complex solutions such as a clay water filter to solutions such as UV waterworks which use ultraviolet light to quickly, safely, and cheaply disinfect water of viruses and bacteria that cause severe diseases.

Energy
Energy entries could vary from simple energy supply for a single machine or a few households up to regenerative solutions for an entire community. Sustainable energy (provided by solar, water, wind, or other sources) could be used for mobility, electricity, cooking, heating, manufacturing etc.

Waste & Recycling
The Siemens Stiftung is looking for solutions with lasting impact on the improvement of solid waste management. The scope ranges from solutions for composting and anaerobic digestion to recycling.

Housing
This category encompasses materials and methods for the construction and the heating or cooling of houses in urban and rural zones. Products for cooking or other devices for everyday family life may also be submitted.

Health
The scope of entries may range from sanitation infrastructure to simple instruments for medical use. Also required are technologies to educate individuals or communities on the subjects of health and nutrition.

Food & Agriculture
Technology can considerably improve the harvest, even in regions with poor soil or difficult climate. Submitted products should help people get the most out of the soil and, at the same time, save on resources.

ICT
Information and communication technology, even on a relatively low level, can dramatically improve living conditions. We are looking for entries that help to build up communities, implement alerts, improve the market overview, and support communication in rural regions.

Further information and updates are available at: www.empowering-people-award.org