The winners of the 8th annual Intel Global Challenge at UC Berkeley have been announced. This year, 25 teams of finalists from 16 countries presented groundbreaking innovations in such fields as healthcare, environmental conservation, and agriculture, among others. Their solutions to current issues ran the gamut. Included were a safer method for delivering chemotherapeutic drugs to cancer patients, new solar-power technology capable of generating sufficient heat for industrial processes, and high-tech farming methods to increase crop yield in developing countries. In addition to their novel ideas and inventions, each team shared their business plan with judges – including industry experts, successful entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists – who provided valuable feedback and advice for moving their businesses forward.
In India and elsewhere around the globe, indoor open fires and traditional mud stoves are still commonly used for cooking by nearly 3 billion people, leading to more than 2 million premature deaths annually. The practice also negatively impacts both the environment and the economy. To address this problem, Greenway Grameen Infra (GGI) creates efficient, biomass-based cooking solutions. Its flagship product, the Greenway Smart Stove, incorporates a unique air-flow generator to provide clean and efficient combustion, saving up to 65 percent of fuel and resulting in a 70 percent reduction in smoke. GGI piloted the stove in communities across five states in India and commercially launched the product in December 2011. Sales have already topped 12,000 units through rural retail outlets since then, and distribution is expanding. Additionally, the company is adding two new stove designs and a waste heat-to-electricity converter to its product line.
Last year, more than 20 million children worldwide did not receive routine immunizations, and nearly two million people died from preventable diseases. One of the reasons that vaccines are not administered in certain locales is that vaccines are temperature sensitive and must be kept cold until use. Nanoly is developing a novel and safe polymer shield to protect and stabilize vaccines in order to eliminate the refrigeration requirement throughout the supply chain. Stabilized vaccines can be easily shipped virtually anywhere in the world, including hard to reach areas that have the most need, making a positive impact on a global scale.
With the world population nearing seven billion people and estimated to grow to nine billion by 2040, farmers will have to produce 70 percent more crop yield to ensure that there is enough food to eat. With only seven percent of cultivated land left to plant (without destroying the rainforests), farmers need to find ways to produce more on existing farmland, particularly in developing countries which have 76 percent of cropland, but produce only a fraction of the yield of developed countries. To address this urgent need, Sustainable Agriculture Solutions (SAS) provides expert farming solutions that make efficient use of available resources and guarantee the long-term viability of food production. The first of their product line is an enhanced efficiency fertilizer (EEF) designed to deliver the right nutrients in the right place, at the right time, and at the right rate. Using patented nanotechnology, the SAS EEF increases efficiency 40 percent over traditional fertilizers and boosts productivity by at least seven percent. Due to more efficient use of nutrients, farms benefit from increased productivity and cost savings with more yield per acre. Additionally, post-harvested products have less chemical residue, and the environment benefits due to reduced GHG emissions.
Best of Category in Computing 2020: Avetics, Singapore
A range of industries, including everything from governments and search-and-rescue operations to agricultural, mining, and forestry companies, can benefit from access to high-resolution aerial maps. However, instant remote sensing via satellites is expensive, as well as unreliable when cloud cover blocks the view. To address this issue, Avetics has developed a remote sensing mini-UAV (unmanned autonomous vehicle) called the Falcon. This foam-based mini-plane includes a camera unit, as well as a computerized control board that not only enables autonomous flight, but cues the camera to take a series of shots. These photos are then stitched together to produce accurate aerial maps that offer 10 times higher resolution than maps currently available on Google Earth. Avetics also operates a mapserver to store high resolution images, and plans to partner with software developers to develop image analytics solutions. Currently, the company is targeting Southeast Asia due to rapid development in the region.