Archive for the 'conference' Category

Farmhack@MIT

Hey there’s a great event coming up at MIT in early March. Its called Farmhack, and the purpose is to bring together New England small-scale farmers and MIT engineers to identify projects for collaboration. There seems to be a consensus that the equipment available is costly, or simply does not respond well to the needs, constraints, and conditions of America’s small acreage farmers. Some of the areas that have come up include seeding technologies, soil monitoring systems, lifestock monitoring systems, irrigation systems. And more! So, if you are a New England farmer or an MIT engineer interested in using small-scale farms as laboratories for innovation, join us! Here are the details.

Farmers -

Do you come away from visits to other farms inspired by a tool or system that you just saw?  Have you invented things on your farm?  Can you describe some challenges on your farm that a team of farmers and engineers might be able to address with a new tool?


Engineers and Designers -

Do you have technical skills that you want to apply to the real world in real time? Are you interested in a direct relationship with the solutions our society needs? Have you considered applying your skill-set to sustainable agriculture?

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A Shoutout to BLISS from Hillary Clinton (Crossposted)

Exciting news from one of our 2009 IDEAS winners, Saba Gul of Business and Life Skills School (BLISS). Cross posted from her blog here.

Some 200 diplomats, entrepreneurs, imams, popular media figures, and comedians joined Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton in breaking the fast on September 7th, 2010 at the Department of State in Washington, D.C.  What made this grand event different from last year’s was the inclusion of 70 young Muslims from across the country that the Department identified as “some of the best and innovative Muslim leaders under the age of 30″.

To be hand-picked as one of these 70 change-makers to represent my work with BLISS was a true honor. But to be mentioned in Hillary Clinton’s speech (full texthere and video here) as one of the young people “who had already accomplished extraordinary things” by starting “a program to keep Pakistani girls from dropping out of school” was exhilarating!

Read more…

The International Development Design Summit

Fort Collins, Colorado has been hosting the International Development Design Summit for the past few weeks. It’s a gathering of students and teachers, professors and pastors, economists and engineers, masons and mechanics, doctors, welders, farmers, and community organizers from around the world. Attendees come together to develop new technologies, build prototypes and work towards the realization of ideas. MIT is co-sponsoring the event and some of our own from the D-Lab can be found in Colorado. This year their focus has been on the dissemination of nine featured inventions.

Those nine ideas range from a pressurized, portable bamboo treatment system in Nepal, a water filter in India targeted towards women, a method for transforming Haitian agricultural waste into fuel, an affordable nipple shield to prevent HIV from spreading through a mother’s milk, a safer way to clean water with chlorine, a household water filter in Africa, irrigation technologies for smaller farms in Asia, a solar heating system in Brazil, and solar lights in the Himalayas. If you find yourself in Fort Collins this afternoon, the prototypes are open to the public.

Maker Faire Africa 2010: Call for Makers

Maker Faire Africa is a celebration of ingenuity and entrepreneurship across the African continent. It is inspired by the successful spread of DIY festivals known as Maker Faires across the United States (check out the latest on the New York City World Maker Faire in September).

The Maker Faire Africa (MFA) co-founding team of organizers (Emeka Okafor/TED Africa, Erik Hersman/Ushahidi, Emer Beamer/Butteryfly Works, Henry Barnor/GhanaThink, and Mark Grimes/Ned/NedSpace/NedWater) seek African innovators, inventors, and makers to participate in the second Maker Faire Africa event to be held in Nairobi, Kenya August 27-28th on the University of Nairobi campus.

To encourage African innovators, inventors and makers from all African countries to try to make it to this unique and one-of-a-kind event, they have some limited funds for those makers outside Nairobi requiring travel and accommodation assistance.

In addition, MFA10 organizers are trying as much as they can to locate and invite women innovators and makers. They’ve found that during last year’s event in Accra, Ghana locating women makers was a challenge, especially those outside arts/crafts categories.

Maker Faire Africa is a free event for all invited makers, innovators and inventors. All the makers that “applied” last year participated in the event. To view some images of the event in Accra, please visit the MFA site.

View the complete call for makers.

IDEAS2010 winners retreat reflections

IDEAS held its annual winners retreat May 25-26 at the always welcoming and excellent MIT Endicott House in Dedham. Over the course of two days, participants were asked to work with their team members and fellow winners to plan their next year of work, with an eye toward long-term impacts.

Although we didn’t get around to some of the more adventurous options like firewalking and gravity-less flight we had a great time interacting across discussions and activities like:

  • Project roadmap: plan the ultimate outcomes you envision for your project, and wrap around each the objectives, activities, resources, and timeline necessary to achieve those goals. Laura Sampath, International Development Initiative manager and Daphne Dhao, MIT alum and superstar IDEAS volunteer, led great discussions and workshops that privided practical tools for project planning, including a discussion of “Asking the right questions.”

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Social Capital Markets 2009

SoCap09 will take place September 1-3 in Fort Macon, San Francisco. 

 

SoCap09 will take place September 1-3 in Fort Macon, San Francisco.

Last year for the first time, an unusual unconference was held in San Francisco. Dubbed SoCap08 (Social Capital 2009) it was a who’s who of investors, entrepreneurs, journalists and thought leaders all with a common interest on developing new business models that deliver a more balanced set of returns – financial, social, environmental.

By all accounts it was big success, and the organizers are doing it again. September 1-3 will mark SoCap09, held again in San Francisco and boasting a strong line-up support. Interested in issues like microfinance, BOP product and service creation and delivery, building SMEs in developing markets, L3Cs and other new corporate structures, what the Obama administration is doing to advance the “field,” and much more.

In addition to the substance of the gathering, it should be a great opportunity to network meet some great people. Visit socialcapitalmarkets.net for the full scoop.

Gleanings from X Prize/I2I

The Incentive to Innovate conference hosted by X Prize Foundation and British Telecom was held at the UN headquarters in New York June 8-9, 2009

The Incentive to Innovate conference hosted by X Prize Foundation and British Telecom was held at the UN headquarters in New York June 8-9, 2009

Enjoyed two days of open exchange around the role of inducement prizes to foster innovation, solve problems, and develop new sources of business value. Brought together by X Prize Foundation folks and British Telecom, Incentive to Innovate was packed with excellent panels and interesting folks w/a range of backgrounds – industry, non-profit, gov, academic etc.

Important to say off the bat is that one of the features I enjoyed most were the “break-out” discussions (NTS: need better physical setting), in particular one conversation centered on using prizes to address poverty and other development-related challenges. While the “product” of these conversations was centered on defining new competition space, they did surface interesting tensions and dynamics in approaches. One in our group was how you involve the beneficiaries in these competitions directly, so we break the mold of Northern winners, Southern venues. No solid answers, but I think Grameen offers a good, if “high burden” model of getting people out into the field – in this case to host conversations, sort of bridge the “customer-solver-inventor” gap.

Among those I found most helpful in applying their experiences to the Global Challenge:

  • Peter Diamandis, X Prize: Define the challenge in terms of measurables – specific. Think about not just producing a product, but catalyzing an entire industry.
  • Filippo Passolini, Proctor & Gamble: Don’t orchestrate – create a context for self-organization.
  • Paul Jansen, McKinsey & Co: Be prepared to support winners with follow-up eg getting innovations to market is an entirely different proposition.
  • Rob McEwen, US Gold and Marthin de Beer, CISCO: Have a plan for internal resistance and addressing organization culture.

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