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2009 Dell Social Innovation Competition Winners - RGK Center and UT Austin
Jacqueline Beretta

May, 2009

The AT&T Center in Austin was alive with excitement as the winners of the 2009 Dell Social Innovation Competition were presented and subsequently announced the winner. All in all, it was a most splendid event showcasing the hard work and creativity of our youth.

Each year, the Dell Social Innovation Competition takes place in three elimination rounds. It's easy! Enter your idea in the competition and take the first step in making your idea a reality.

* Idea Submission: Students from any college or university in the world are invited to enter their ideas to change the world. When you enter, the title and description of the idea is viewable by the public. Students and the public can read the ideas and vote for their favorites. The judges from the RGK Center for Philanthropy & Community Service in the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas select up to 75 semifinalist entries to move to the second round of competition. Also, the 25 ideas with the most votes move forward as semifinalists.
* Social Venture Plan & Video: In round two, semifinalists create a written plan detailing the social venture and 3-minute video pitch. Along with public voting, the social venture plans are judged by luminaries of academia, business, government and the nonprofit sector to select three finalist teams. Venture Plan & Video Guidelines
* Final Presentations & Awards: The three finalist teams representing universities worldwide will fly to Texas to pitch their ideas live in front of a panel of expert judges. The judges will deliberate and award a grand prize at the reception following the presentations. The competition covers travel expenses for two members of each finalist team to visit The University of Texas at Austin for the final round of competition. Final Presentation Guidelines

What an exciting event this was... the room was full at the AT&T Center, not only of people, but of anticipation to see which group would win the coveted prizes.

The winner of the $50,000 prize was a young group from Yale who created a program called A Sustainable Approach to Nutritional Independence for People Living with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda - Gardens for Health International.

Though much has been accomplished in recent years to make HIV/AIDS drugs universally available, poverty and malnutrition continue to undermine treatment effectiveness. HIV/AIDS treatment consists of an intensive, multi-drug regimen called anti-retroviral therapy (ART), which is very taxing on the patient’s body. Doctors recommend that individuals infected with HIV/AIDS increase their caloric intake by up to 50% and consume diverse nutrients in order to sustain the energy necessary for the drugs to work. Unfortunately, the majority of people infected with HIV/AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa have limited means to acquire the quantity or quality of nutrients needed for effective treatment.

Malnutrition not only increases drug side effects but also limits their absorption and effectiveness. It also weakens the immune system, hastening disease progression. HIV/AIDS, in turn, limits the labor productivity of infected individuals, pushing individuals and families further into poverty. Though not a substitute for ART, good nutrition helps people infected with HIV/AIDS to stay healthy longer, adhere to drug therapy, and maintain a better quality of life. Most nutritional support programs for HIV-positive individuals provide short-term food aid. We believe that this long-term disease requires a long-term approach to nutritional support.

Gardens for Health International (GHI) aims to enable people living with HIV/AIDS in Rwanda to develop a sustainable means of nutritional support for themselves and for their families. GHI provides a unique program that complements the country-wide availability of ART: legal support to form cooperatives, land advocacy, home gardens, seeds and tools, training in sustainable agriculture and nutrition.

One finalist and the People's Choice award went to a group from Stanford University called Embrace: a $25 Infant Incubator for Developing Countries

Embrace is a sustainable social enterprise that aims to save vulnerable babies around the world through a low cost infant incubator. 20 million low birth weight and premature babies are born every year, primarily in developing countries. Many of these babies die or grow up severely ill because they are not able to regulate their own body temperature. This problem could be prevented with an incubator. However, traditional incubators in the U.S. cost up $20,000.

The Embrace Infant Warmer is an innovative device that costs $25. Embrace uses a phase change material incorporated in a sleeping bag design to regulate a baby's temperature. The product requires no electricity, has no moving parts, is portable and is safe and intuitive to use. Our customers will be private and government hospitals, as well as NGOs who can help bring the product into a community setting. We plan to prove the product and business concepts in India, where the largest need for this product exists, and then roll out in the rest of the developing world.

One of the U.N. millennium development goals is the reduction of infant mortality by two-thirds by 2015. The Embrace incubator will help families save their babies, and governments work towards this goal. By 2013, Embrace aims to save the lives of 137,000 babies and prevent illness in another 780,000 babies. This will lead to cost savings of $146 million to governments, and an increase in GDP of $1 billion due to improved health.

The $10,000 Tomberg Prize in Environmental Sustainability was awarded to SolarCycle

Drinking and cooking kill in developing countries. Diarrheal illness caused by dirty water and respiratory disease caused by smoke inhalation from wood fires are the two leading environmental causes of disability and death in the world, representing 10% of the total global burden of disease and far outstripping more publicized illnesses such as malaria and cancer.

Seeking to address these issues from the ground up with locally-available, low-cost materials, SolarCycle’s founders looked to the most unusual of resources - trash. We have designed a revolutionary material made from used plastic grocery bags and the aluminized interior of chip bags, which will replace virgin plastics and mirrors in solar concentrating applications. Using this “upcycled” manufacturing process, SolarCycle produces the most durable, sustainable, and financially accessible solar cookers and community-scale water pasteurizers on the market and turns a serious trash problem into a solution for diarrheal illness and respiratory disease.

A single $5 SolarCycle cooker will reduce smoke-related illnesses, save 60 days and 2700 miles of walking to collect firewood, prevent 20,000 lbs of firewood consumption, and produce annual social benefits estimated at $34. By purifying enough water for 80 people over 10 years, our $350 water pasteurizer will reduce the incidence of diarrheal illness by 40% among users, producing a staggering annual $2500 in social benefits. Beginning in Sub-Saharan Africa, SolarCycle will use local waste products and easily scalable manufacturing processes to achieve rapid growth and widespread environment and health improvements for the people that need it most.

One of the three finalists was a group from Harvard University called INeedaPencil.com

INeedAPencil.com is an innovative online education program that provides free SAT exam prep and college advice to high school students. As a social enterprise, INeedAPencil.com has two primary goals: help students get into college and generate leads for colleges.

A college education in today’s knowledge economy is more valuable than ever before. In fact, it is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. Yet for a student from a poor family in the South Bronx who cannot afford a Kaplan tutor, college is something “that only rich kids can do.” There are virtually no options for a growing segment of American teens that face harsh admissions criteria, impossible financial burdens and unimaginable information asymmetry. No more. Students from low-income backgrounds score an average of more than 300 points lower on the SAT than students from high-income backgrounds. No more.

INeedAPencil.com provides two crucial services that empower students to raise SAT scores and make college a reality:
• A comprehensive online program with SAT lessons, practice questions, status reports, an automatic score projector, digital notes, an SAT calendar, built-in calculator and much more
• A blog series with unique college admissions information that walk a student through selecting schools, applying to college, earning scholarships and everything in between

To learn more about each entity and see thier Youtube video, visit Dell Social Innovation Competition.



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