InnoCentive Solvers Make a Difference in Rural Africa and India

By Wazoku

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Waltham, Mass. – March 3, 2008 — InnoCentive, Inc., the leader in Prize-Based Open Innovation sourcing, today announced that two of its recently solved Challenges will bring practical solutions to real problems in the developing world. The first Challenge was a call for a solar-powered lamp/flashlight hybrid to bring much-needed light to villages in Africa and other remote areas of the world. The second asked for a cost-effective food grinder that could easily grind both wet and dry spices, thus providing a more efficient food preparation tool for impoverished sectors of India. Two successful InnoCentive Solvers were awarded a combined total of $35,000 for their winning solutions to these tough problems.

“The successful conclusion of both of these Challenges showcases the impact our online community has in helping global organizations find innovators and creative solutions worldwide,” said Dwayne Spradlin, CEO of InnoCentive. “Innovation, even at the most simplistic level, can help to change the lives of individuals struggling with the daily rigors of their lives.”

SunNight Solar, an organization that is dedicated to shining a light on problems plaguing the developing world including poverty, women’s safety, health, and literacy, sought the help of InnoCentive’s Solver community to create a dual-purpose solar light to serve as both a lamp and a flashlight. The device will be used in African villages and other areas without electricity. This invention would provide sufficient light for security at night, enable children to study and allow family members to safely walk to outhouses. Russell McMahon, an electrical engineer from New Zealand, solved the Challenge and was awarded $20,000. This light is designed to work for up to 20 years without breaking. McMahon said part of his motivation for working on this Challenge was the role he could play in helping those who are the most in need.

The Rural Innovations Network is an organization that identifies and incubates grassroots innovations, which can have a transformative impact on the lives of people in rural areas of India. The company sought help from InnoCentive in redesigning an existing food grinder so that it could cost-effectively grind wet and dry food. Previously the people of Southeast Asia used Pin Pulverizer machines to grind dry grains into fine powders. However, these machines would clog and break when used to grind spices such as chili or coriander because of their higher moisture content. Tom Kruer, a Kentucky-based (USA) product design engineer and entrepreneur, solved this Challenge by developing an easily-interchangeable blade that converts the current dry-spice grinder into a multi-functional machine. By removing the current dry-blade, and replacing it with the new one, the grinder can be converted within minutes from a dry-grinder to a moist-grinder. Kruer was awarded $15,000 for solving this Challenge.

Tom Kruer said, “InnoCentive is a fascinating avenue for teaming up creative minds around the world with design challenges needing solutions The InnoCentive Pin Pulverizer Challenge sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, provided the perfect match between my desire to do meaningful, philanthropic work, my limited spare time, and my professional skills.”

The Challenges posted by the Rural Innovations Network and SunNight Solar were both sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation, as part of its Accelerating Development for Innovation Initiative, a comprehensive effort that seeks to extend the revolutionary advances spurred by innovation to benefit poor and vulnerable people in the developing world.

InnoCentive is committed to combining technology, economic incentives, and human ingenuity to address and resolve problems that will have a direct impact on improving lives around the world, and currently has numerous philanthropic Challenges in their Marketplace today.

About InnoCentive

Founded in 2001, InnoCentive built the first global web community for open innovation, enabling scientists, engineers, professionals and entrepreneurs to collaborate to deliver breakthrough solutions for R&D-driven organizations. InnoCentive Seekers, who collectively spend billions of dollars on R&D, submit complex problems to the InnoCentive Marketplace where more than 140,000 engineers, scientists, inventors, business people, and research organizations in more than 175 countries are invited to solve them. Solvers who deliver the most innovative solutions receive financial awards ranging up to US$1,000,000. InnoCentive’s Seekers include commercial, government and non-profit organizations such as Eli Lilly and Company, Janssen, Solvay, GlobalGiving and The Rockefeller Foundation.

For more information on InnoCentive, go to:
InnoCentive and InnoCentive Challenge are registered trademarks of InnoCentive, Inc. Other product or service names mentioned herein are the trademarks of their respective owners.

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.