Tech Museum Announces 2008 Laureates

The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, and a signature program of The Tech Museum of Innovation, on Sept. 9 announced the 2008 Tech Awards Laureates, 25 global innovators who are applying technology to benefit humanity and spark global change.

The Laureates were selected from hundreds of nominations representing 68 countries.

Established in 2001, The Tech Awards recognize 25 Laureates in five universal categories: education, equality, environment, economic development, and health. These Laureates have developed new technological solutions or innovative ways to use existing technologies to significantly improve the lives of people around the world. One Laureate in each category will receive a $50,000 cash prize during the annual Awards Gala on Nov. 12 in San Jose, Calif.

This year, the 2008 Laureates represent the truly global vision of the program, spanning countries such as Senegal, Peru, Hungary, Canada, Namibia, Germany, Egypt, India, United Kingdom, Laos and the United States. Their work impacts people in many more countries worldwide.

"This year's international roster of Laureates demonstrates the exceptional and creative applications of both high and low-tech solutions to change the world," said Peter Friess, president of The Tech.

Sponsors for The Tech Awards categories include: Intel for the Environment Award; Accenture for the Economic Development Award; Microsoft for the Education Award; and The Swanson Foundation for the Equality Award.

Below are brief descriptions of a select number of winning projects.

2008 Intel Environment Award
Nitrogen Use Efficiency (NUE) Biotechnology, Arcadia Biosciences, Inc.: Using genetic engineering, NUE technology reduces nitrogen fertilizer requirements in farming while maintaining crop yield.

Biomass Energy Project, Cheetah Conservation Fund: Namibia-based Cheetah Conservation Fund's Bush Project is a biomass processing plant that uses a high-pressure extrusion process to convert invasive bush into a clean and economically viable alternative to existing products such as firewood, coal, lump charcoal, and charcoal briquettes used for cooking fuel and barbecues.

Renewable Energies Promotion Fund, Practical Action: Using locally manufactured and assembled equipment, The Renewable Energies Promotion Fund of the Latin American Regional Office of Practical Action in Lima, Peru, has developed a system for the construction, finance, and management of decentralized micro-hydropower in remote mountain villages that would otherwise not have electricity.

Sunlabob Renewable Energy Ltd: Laos-based Sunlabob rents large central solar charging stations to village entrepreneurs, who in turn rent out rechargeable exchangeable solar lamps to local villagers. These solar lamps provide not only light, but also a source of power for mobile devices such as telephones.

VWP C02-recycling Concept for Food and Fuel, Vereinigte Werkstatten fuer Ptlanzenoeltechnologie (VWP): Vereinigte Werkstatten fuer Pflanzenoeltechnologie CO2-recycling Concept for Food and Fuel project promotes sustainable cultivation of oil seed plants for use in VWP's specially adapted pure plant oil diesel engines in remote areas of Africa and South America.

2008 Accenture Economic Development Award
DESI Power: Decentralised Energy Systems India: DESI Power uses 19th century technology, biomass gasification through agricultural waste, to expand the supply of electric power in more than 100 villages in Bihar, India.

The Portable Light Project: The Portable Light Project, based in Boston, creates new ways to provide clean energy. Portable Light textiles with embedded flexible solar materials and solid state lighting enable people in the developing world to create, own, and benefit from energy-harvesting blankets, bags, and clothing in an open source integration model.

NComputing, Inc.: NComputing, based in Redwood City, Calif., taps the unused power of a standard PC and redistributes it to multiple users, helping organizations in developing countries save on deployment, maintenance, energy, and replacement costs and thereby narrowing the digital divide.

Solar Electric Light Fund: Washington, D.C.-based Solar Electric Light Fund developed a solar power drip irrigation system to help farmers in rural Benin, West Africa, cultivate their crops. The technology eliminates the need for fossil fuels and battery use currently used in irrigation methods in developing countries.

The Full Belly Project: The Full Belly project, based in North Carolina, offers a universal nut sheller that reduces the labor required to dehusk peanuts, coffee, shea, Neem and Jatropha.

2008 The Katherine M. Swanson Equality Award
The Earth, Man, and Appropriate Technology, Hany El Miniawy, Appropriate Development, Architecture and Planning Technologies (ADAPT): Hany El Miniawy cuts down construction costs in rapidly urbanizing areas of Egypt and Algeria by more than 30 percent by using sustainable bricks made of earth and locally produced waste products such as rice straw and cement dust.

Build Change: Build Change designs and trains builders and homeowners to build earthquake-resistant houses in developing countries using locally available skills and materials. The designs are affordable, sustainable, easy to build and culturally appropriate, and ensure that each homeowner has access to affordable technology to build a house that will not collapse and injure or kill their families in an earthquake, regardless of their income level.

Women Empowerment through Sustainable Energy, SKG Sangha: SKG Sangha provides integrated biogas and vermicompost technologies to assist women in rural India. The biogas and vermicompost technologies unit addresses a range of issues including energy, sanitation, poverty, health, and education by providing the means to improve the cooking and composting process, resulting in less time spent gathering wood for conventional cook stoves, more efficient, safer cooking, and essential compost that results in a source of income when women can sell the excess compost.

2008 Health Award
The Drift Catcher - Empowering Communities for Health and Sustainability, Pesticide Action Network North America: The Drift Catcher is a user-friendly and affordable air monitoring system developed by the Pesticide Action Network in San Francisco and used by rural and farm communities around the U.S. to measure the concentrations of hazardous pesticides in the air.

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