InnoCentive and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine Partner to Improve Sanitary Conditions for Millions in Developing Countries

By Wazoku

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Waltham, Mass. – December 15, 2011 – InnoCentive, Inc., the pioneer in open innovation and crowdsourcing, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine today announced a Challenge seeking designs for a system to incorporate waste-consuming black soldier fly (BSF) larvae into pit latrines. By consuming waste, the larvae help tackle the problem of latrine pits filling up, which causes health risks and expense to poor families.  A solution to this problem, which affects approximately 1.7 billion people worldwide, would improve community health through reduced water contamination, diminish the social stigma associated with latrine pit overflow, and create economic opportunities for entrepreneurs who could resell harvested BSF larvae from the latrines as fertilizer, fish food, or biodiesel fuel.

Pit latrines are the cheapest and most basic form of sanitation available, frequently resulting in the recurring problem of slow or partial decomposition of the contents decompose fast enough or fully, causing the pit latrines to fill and overflow. Current solutions to this problem, including paying someone to empty the pit, building a new pit, or flushing the pit contents into a nearby waterway, are costly, unsanitary, and often unfeasible due to lack of space, especially in unplanned settlements or emergency camps.

To tackle this pressing problem, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Sanitation Ventures project is seeking sustainable methods of accelerating the decomposition of pit latrine contents.  One of several approaches the project is exploring centers on BSF larvae, already a proven solution for municipal and home household waste reduction and management. In addition to consuming many times their body weight in organic matter, BSF larvae in their final larval stage are also a highly valued resource for a wide range of commercial applications, including animal or fish foods and biodiesel fuel.

The Pit Latrine Challenge seeks an affordable and user-friendly system that will allow BSF larvae to be used to reduce waste in mass pit latrines and then harvested and used elsewhere as an economic resource.  The Challenge carries a total award payout of $10,000, with one guaranteed award of at least $5,000, and potential additional awards of at least $1,000.

“Inadequate sanitation is the one of the greatest risks to human health and development worldwide – and there is a real lack of affordable, effective solutions for the poor,” said Sanitation Ventures Director Walter Gibson. “The scale of the problem is huge, which is why we’re particularly excited to work with InnoCentive and the Solver community on the BSF larvae approach to helping solve it. The potential impact of this Challenge is vast.”

“With the Earth’s population now exceeding seven billion, basic sanitation is an increasingly critical issue,” said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO and president of InnoCentive.  “Solutions to this problem will greatly enhance the lives of people who live in vulnerable communities. This is exactly the type of ambitious, far-reaching Challenge that will mobilize our Solver network to make a tangible difference in the lives of millions or even billions.”

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) is a renowned research-led postgraduate institution of public health and global health. Its mission is to improve health in the UK and worldwide through the pursuit of excellence in research, postgraduate teaching and advanced training in national and international public health and tropical medicine, and through informing policy and practice in these areas. Part of the University of London, the School is the largest institution of its kind in Europe with a remarkable depth and breadth of expertise encompassing many disciplines associated with public health.

About InnoCentive

InnoCentive is the open innovation and crowdsourcing pioneer that enables organizations to solve their key problems by connecting them to diverse sources of innovation including employees, customers, partners, and the world’s largest problem solving marketplace. InnoCentive’s proven Challenge Driven Innovation methodology, community of millions of problem Solvers, and cloud-based technology platform combine to fundamentally transform the economics of innovation and R&D through rapid solution delivery and the development of sustainable open innovation programs. Leading commercial, government, and nonprofit organizations such as Eli Lilly, Life Technologies, NASA,, Popular Science, Procter & Gamble, Roche, Rockefeller Foundation, and The Economist partner with InnoCentive to solve problems and innovate faster and more cost effectively than ever before.

By Wazoku

Wazoku is an innovation SaaS business that helps some of the world’s biggest organizations to innovate at scale. Whether it’s making the most of your employee's ideas, identifying new partners to collaborate with, or exploring the boundless potential of open innovation – or all three! – Wazoku makes innovation happen.