Three Winners Selected for Siemens Stiftung’s “empowering people. Award”; Outstanding Inventions Address Basic Needs in the Developing World

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Prize money of $276,000 USD was awarded to the top 23 innovations at an award ceremony in Nairobi.

Figures from the WHO show that around 150 million people in the world suffer from defective eyesight which could be rectified with a simple seeing aid.

We are delighted with the ingenious and passionate inventors and their promising results presented here in Nairobi.

The Siemens Stiftung (foundation) today announced the top three winners for the “empowering people. Award” at a ceremony in Nairobi, Kenya. An international jury selected the top three inventions out of 23 finalists, including OneDollarGlasses, MakaPads and the Jompy Water Boiler. Prize money was also awarded to the Community Prize winner, Solar Reflectors, and the remaining top 19 finalists.

The Siemens Stiftung “empowering people. Award” is designed to identify simple yet intelligent technological solutions to sustainably improve the lives of people in developing countries. It received 800 entries from all over the world. The finalists focus on the most crucial supply challenges that can make a real difference to lives in many regions. The award evaluation approach followed the foundation’s credo: “ENCOURAGE. empowering people.”

“We are delighted with the ingenious and passionate inventors and their promising results presented here in Nairobi,” said Rolf Huber, managing director of the Siemens Stiftung. “We are convinced that all of these solutions will have a great impact on the lives of people in developing countries. By empowering individuals, we can empower communities, with long-term effects. We have 23 winners here today. But we know that by embedding solutions in operative projects and business models, we will be able to create many more winners in the world.”

First Prize: OneDollarGlasses
The winner of the first prize of the “empowering people. Award”, Martin Aufmuth from Erlangen, Germany, received $69,000 USD for his ground-breaking OneDollarGlasses. With millions of visually-impaired people living in impoverished regions around the world, the specs costing less than $1 USD provide a valuable contribution in empowering individuals to study and work unimpaired.

Second Prize: MakaPads
The second prize of $41,400 USD was awarded to Dr. Moses Kizza Musaazi from Uganda. His MakaPads sanitary pads are as simple as they are ingenious. These locally made pads are affordable and make a difference to many women who would otherwise be marginalized in schools and workplaces because of a lack of alternatives. The production of MakaPads, which are made from natural material and are biodegradable, also creates local employment opportunities.

Third Prize: Jompy Water Boiler
The winner of the third prize was David Osborne from Celsius Global Solutions, UK, who received $27,600 USD for the Jompy Water Boiler, a combined water-and-energy solution. This lightweight, inexpensive fire-top device enables households to cook a meal while at the same time heating water to temperatures high enough to kill waterborne bacteria. Since the energy needed for cooking can be used more efficiently, the fuel costs for poor families can be dramatically reduced.

Community Prize: Solar Reflectors
In addition to the top three prize winners, the consistently growing “empowering people. Award” community voted for the winner of this year’s Community Prize. The Community Prize went to Gregor Schäpers, from the company Trinysol in Mexico, for Solar Reflectors, an invention that can be used to bake, cook or fry food, as well as to generate steam. This is particularly important in countries where small- and medium-sized companies are looking for potential energy savings and alternative power sources. Schäpers received freely selectable technical equipment with a value of $4,140 USD as a support for his project.

Seven U.S. Inventors Receive Awards
The remaining 20 winners (including the recipient of the Community Prize) received prize money of $6,900 USD each, including the following seven inventors from the U.S:

*ElectroChemical Arsenic Remediation (ECAR): ECAR provides locally affordable, arsenic-safe water to communities, within a sustainable-service delivery model, at extremely low operating costs.
*Leveraged Freedom Chair: The Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC) was designed by the development team at MIT to help people with physical disabilities in developing countries by using a unique lever drivetrain, which makes it faster than conventional wheelchairs and enables it to travel over extremely rough terrain.
*Mobile Solar Cellphone Charger: A mobile charging point, this device can be attached to bicycles and mopeds to quickly charge cell phones for people on the go, using renewable energy technology.
*OpenIR: Democratizing infrared satellite data, OpenIR is an ICT (information communication technology) that maps environmental risks and features revealed by infrared satellite data. This includes algorithms for flood risk map generations and a web map application. OpenIR collaborates with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) to determine additional validation and use case scenarios.
*ReMotion Knee. ReMotion Knee is an affordable, polycentric prosthetic knee designed for amputees in developing countries.
*Sun Saluter – Solar tracking and water filtration. An intuitive, gravity-powered device that helps solar panels follow the sun, while providing clean water.
*Embrace Nest. A low-cost and energy-efficient infant warmer, which addresses the key challenge of preventing hypothermia for infants with low birth weight in developing countries.

More Support for Inventors
In addition to prize money, the Siemens Stiftung foundation will also be supporting selected inventors in further developing their innovations and in promoting their broad implementation on the ground.

Siemens Stiftung is also in the process of compiling all submitted technologies, that were classified by experts as best-practice innovations, into a database that is accessible and available to the public. The long-term aim is to connect developers and users of interesting products and solutions as well as potential investors and development organizations. As a first step, Siemens Stiftung inititiated the “empowering people workshop” the day before the award ceremony. At the workshop, winners had the opportunity to meet members of the Community Impact Development Group (CIDG), an initiative of Siemens Stiftung and Ashoka, and benefit from the exchanged know-how and experience .

For further information on all of the prize winners as well as details about the competition, please visit

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About the Siemens Stiftung
ENCOURAGE. empowering people. The Siemens Stiftung wants to empower people to actively address today’s social challenges and is dedicated to the values of Werner von Siemens. Together with partners, the foundation designs and implements local and international projects with the aim of promoting individual responsibility and self-initiative. The foundation is committed to enlarging basic services and social entrepreneurship, promoting education and strengthening culture. The Siemens Stiftung pursues an integrative approach and stands for responsible, impact-oriented and innovative project work.

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Jennifer Gehrt

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