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Indian students win $60,000 top prize at Dell Social Innovation Challenge 2013 news
18 May 2013

Dell today said that a team of students from India received the $60,000-grand prize at the Dell Social Innovation Challenge (DSIC 2013) for its project Solar Conduction Dryer.

Induction DryerShortlisted from more than 2,600 projects ideas that addressed issues impacting more than 110 countries, five finalists convened in Austin, Texas, this week to compete for the cash prize as part of the DSIC.

The DSIC recognises undergraduate and graduate students from around the world who envision, create and implement social innovation projects that help communities around the world.

The winning team comprising two Indian students, Shital Somani and Vaibhav Tidke from Mumbai, was adjudged the grand prize winner for its Solar Conduction Dryer, which aims to address the 20 to 30 per cent food spoilage rate for poor rural Indian farmers via cost-effective dehydrators powered by solar conduction. The innovation will enable farmers to keep more of their crops and sell dehydrated fruits and vegetables as another income source.

Says Somani, "Our Solar Conduction Dryer will act as a boon for the farmers and fishermen with poor access to electricity. The platform provided by DSIC will help us in scaling up our technology to reach the farmers and thus provide them with a revolutionary sustainable technology, to cope up with the agrarian crisis and prosper."

The other four 2013 finalists included:

  • Foot Soldiers: In second place, Foot Soldiers received $40,000 to sell affordable shoes for the 48 million Bangladeshi who cannot afford proper footwear and are thus at risk for various diseases associated with bare feet. The project will use rubber tires that are currently thrown away or burnt as Bangladesh's car population rises.
  • In third place, received $20,000 to create a "401k for charity" by helping people make payroll contributions to tax-exempt micro-foundation accounts from which they can give funds over time to nonprofits. The project will help companies run simple, engaging workplace giving campaigns.
  • The other two finalists, Semka Biomedical Technologies and Citizen Power / Sunriding, received $10,000 each to launch their ideas. Semka, from Mexico, is developing a device capable of performing non-invasive tumour biopsies through blood extraction. Citizen Power, a German team, is building a peer-to-peer online social platform for crowdsourcing urban solar installations.

The five finalists participated in networking and mentoring opportunities with social innovation leaders and the final pitches to vie for the grand prize. They presented their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges comprising business leaders, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, and the winner was selected following the pitches.

"Two of the most powerful forces in the world are innovation and entrepreneurship< says Suzi Sosa, DSIC executive director and associate director, RGK Center.

Sosa explains, "The Dell Social Innovation Challenge empowers students to become innovators and entrepreneurs. Through our competition, university students from any country are inspired to tackle the issues they are most passionate about and are equipped with the tools and training to bring their ideas to life. This year we will provide mentorship or seed funding to more than 250 teams whose projects span multiple issues, including health, energy, poverty, education and much more. Through our program students are able to create the jobs they want while building the world they want at the same time."

According to Trisa Thompson, Dell's vice president of corporate responsibility, "Dell was founded in a dorm room, and the spirit of entrepreneurship runs deep in our company's DNA. We know that students can change the world, and we're excited to support them with technology, mentorship, networking and funding that can bring their ideas to life."

The DSIC identifies and supports promising young social innovators who dedicate themselves to solving some of the world's most pressing problems with their transformative ideas. The Challenge provides students with world-class teaching and training, as well as start-up capital and access to a network of mentors and advisers. Entries are judged on three primary criteria: clarity of the innovation and significance of social impacts potentials; demonstration of a high probability of success; and potential impact from winning DSIC.

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Indian students win $60,000 top prize at Dell Social Innovation Challenge 2013