Innovation4All Award

Tech4All, in association with the Worshipful Company of Engineers, offers an award for the most creative solutions based in engineering or other technology disciplines to help those who are disadvantaged as a result of poverty or hardship.

Are you working on technology that could improve the lives of thousands of people?

About the Award

The award is intended to encourage engineers to use their skills and expertise to create solutions to alleviate the causes or consequences of underlying issues leading to people being disadvantaged in any way as a result of poverty or hardship.

The application process is accessible and straightforward, with evaluation and feedback from a panel with experience in the engineering, aid projects, and innovation management.

2024 submissions now CLOSED. Check back in 2025 for the next call for submissions.

The Prize

There is a cash prize of £20,000 and the Judges may also award runners up substantial discretionary prizes.

Going beyond this cash prize, winners and runners-up will be connected to our network which offers real support in helping to nurture and grow the projects through advice and contacts around the world.

Who is eligible?

Entrants can be independent, or part of a recognised body, but financial control processes must be present and openly reported.

The Brief

Submissions can address the causes or consequences of underlying issues leading to people being disadvantaged in any way as a result of poverty or hardship across a broad range of areas including, but not limited to, health, mobility, social exclusion, education, banking or location.

Applicants must clearly identify the evidence-based challenge to be overcome, how the innovation will benefit the disadvantaged or poor and how that benefit can be or has been measured. Projects must be supported by a simple high-level business plan identifying essential immediate cash-requirements, and a self-sustaining future operating model.

For more information

About last year’s award winner:
Gayatri Sundar Rajan & INDECO

Bio

Gayatri is an Engineering Science DPhil student at the University of Oxford researching how to cogenerate low-cost, low-energy potable water and cold storage via adsorption desalination and cooling systems.

She employs both computational and experimental methods in her research. Gayatri is co-advised by Prof. Nick Hankins and Dr. Binjian Nie.

Prior to joining the University of Oxford, Gayatri completed her B.S. in Mechanical Engineering at Boston University. During her degree, she built and tested a desiccant-based water harvesting device for her senior design project, conducted research in heating electrification through Boston University’s Campus Climate Lab, and interned at Commonwealth Fusion systems as an R&D Mechatronics Intern.

Building on a range of research and industrial internships in the energy and water landscape, Gayatri aims to bring an interdisciplinary perspective to sustainable development opportunities at the water-energy-food nexus.

Without the support of the Innovation4All grant and team, I may not have had the support to take the concept from simulations to experiments.

Gayatri

Technical description of work

INDECO is a potable water and cold storage cogeneration system

To produce both potable water and cooling capacity from low-grade (60 – 80 C) solar heat sources, INDECO utilizes an adsorption desalination and cooling system (ADS). An ADS system uses solid adsorbents to adsorb and desorb water vapor from a contaminated solution. The adsorption process enables water vapor to be separated from a contaminated feed solution, whereas the desorption process leads to the condensation of potable water. A cooling fluid output is produced when the ADS system evaporates the contaminated solution.

To transform this cooling fluid output into cold air for a cold storage space, the ADS system’s cooling fluid is used to cool an incoming airflow. The energy requirements of the hybrid system can be further reduced by utilizing heat recovered from the ADS process for the humidification of the airstream, utilizing evaporative cooling upstream of the ADS’s cooling coil, or by heating and humidifying the upstream air.

The technical research on the INDECO system focuses on:

01

Computationally and experimentally validating hybrid ADS system concepts.

02

Improving the performance of existing ADS systems to enhance the water and cooling production with lower energy footprint.

03

Evaluating the technoeconomic feasibility of INDECO systems in low-to-middle income country contexts.

Impact on Low-Income Countries

According to the UN Sustainable Development Goals:

%

Of the global population suffers from water scarcity

%

Of the global population struggles with hunger

%

However, nearly 17% 
of food is wasted in low-to-middle income countries due to inadequate access to post-harvest refrigeration
INDECO aims to provide potable water, reduce hunger by saving food from wastage, and provide a sustainable solution to reduce poverty in the same regions.

By reducing the amount of food wasted after harvest, INDECO increases the profits of farmers in low-to-middle income countries while increasing the food available in local markets.

In addition, INDECO drives local economic opportunities with its need for maintenance and tailoring to a local environment. Lastly, INDECO empowers families by enabling them to access both water and food, two key ingredients for a higher quality of life.

Overall, INDECO has the potential to reduce water scarcity, hunger, and poverty in low-to-middle income countries with its low-cost, solar-powered, and sustainable water and cold storage cogeneration hub.

Innovation4All Award Ceremony and Worshipful Company of Engineers

How receiving the award has made a difference

Innovation4All award winner Gayatri Sundar Rajan and Indeco
INDECO aims to provide potable water, reduce hunger by saving food from wastage, and provide a sustainable solution to reduce poverty in the same regions.

By reducing the amount of food wasted after harvest, INDECO increases the profits of farmers in low-to-middle income countries while increasing the food available in local markets.

In addition, INDECO drives local economic opportunities with its need for maintenance and tailoring to a local environment. Lastly, INDECO empowers families by enabling them to access both water and food, two key ingredients for a higher quality of life.

Overall, INDECO has the potential to reduce water scarcity, hunger, and poverty in low-to-middle income countries with its low-cost, solar-powered, and sustainable water and cold storage cogeneration hub.

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