IDEAS and Global Challenge Teams – Delivering Impact

Thanks to all the teams that recently providing some exciting information about the progress you’ve made over the last year to tackle barriers to well-being in communities around the world. Here’s a round-up of some of the good stuff we’ve learned:

6Dot (Braille Labeler)

· Milestones. In the spring of 2011 6Dot moved into new offices of the Stanford student venture incubator, SSE Labs. 6Dot has gained awareness through participation in three major conferences and expos, including the Stanford Cool Projects Expo, the California Transcribers and Educators for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CTEVBI) conference and the CSUN International Technology and Persons with Diabilities Conference.

· Impact. 6Dot has begun low-volume production up to 250 of their Braille labeling devices for market. As of April 2011 they had secured more than 70 pre-sale commitments.

· Income. In May 2011 6Dot won $10,000 in the Stanford Product Showcase.

· Press. The 6dot Braille labeler was featured in a TV report by, which features “Discoveries and Breakthroughs in Science.”


· Milestones. On May 11 BLISS introduced the Sozankaar collection of bags. Sozankaar means, “skilled with the needle” in Dari. BLISS has operationalized its partnership with Boston-based charity Barakat to provide its curriculum and training program in participating schools in Pakistan. On September 7, BLISS founder Saba Gul and BLISS were commended by the U.S. State Department in a gathering that featured Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. BLISS raised $8k as a finalist in the Unreasonable Institute marketplace, earning a coveted spot in their summer Institute.

· Income. $8,000 Unreasonable Institute;

· Press. BLISS founder Saba Gul (SM ’09) featured in the March/April edition of MIT’s Technology Review.
Founder Saba Gul’s International Women’s Day post for ThinkChangePakistan.

EmpleoListo! (AssuredLabor)

  • Milestones. Launched in Nicaragua and Mexico, AssuredLabor/EmpleoListo! has signed up over 100,000 job seekers. More than 40 prestigious employers, from Philip Morris International to Alcatel-Lucent to MacDonalds and Wal*Mart as well as numerous national and local businesses use the service to recruit candidates. Now has 14 full-time employees based in 4 countries, including: Nicaragua, Mexico, Pakistan and the United States. In October 2010 won the Omidyar Fastpitch Competition.

· Impact. Hundreds of successful job matches made.

  • Income. Raised $1M from prestigious angel investors and Venture Capital funds across 3 continents.

· Press. Recently profiled for their work with MIT’s Sloan Entrepreneurs for International Development by the MIT News Office; featured in Fast Company, “Text Here for a New Job”; and VentureBeat, “A Mobile LinkedIn for the Developing World”.


· Milestones. On May 24, set up its first sales gazebo at the weekly Tuesday market at Kigamboni associated with the launch of its television battery system. As a winner of InfoDev’s Top 50 Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in April, won a slot at the 4th Global Forum on Innovation and Entrepreneurship. Raised $8k as a finalist in the Unreasonable Institute marketplace, earning a coveted spot in their summer Institute. EGG generated $25k in revenues in 2010.
EGGenergy co-founder Jamie Yang named Echoing Green Foundation Fellow in 2010.

· Impact. With the help of 8 local employees, EGG-energy currently serves 300 active subscriptions that connect 2000 people to electricity at its pilot site in a rural village 40km outside of Dar es Salaam. Overall impact is to prevent 9.9 million liters of kerosene from being burnt and 22,200 tons of CO2 from being emitted over the next five years.

· Income. $60,000 Echoing Green Fellowship; $8,000 Unreasonable Institute; generated $25k in subscription revenues in 2010.

· Press. MIT News Office profiles EGG-energy after founder Rhonda Jordan’s presentation at the African Presidential Roundtable in Mauritius, themed “21st Century Energy Agenda for Africa. names EGG-energy “The Netflix of Batteries for the Developing World.” MIT News Office profiles Jamie Wang as an Echoing Green Fellowship winner.

Green Grease

· Milestones. In August of 2010 the Grease Project ran a workshop in CRUMA, a well-established São Paulo cooperative, that taught catadores (waste pickers) a simple, low-tech method for converting diesel engines to run on waste vegetable oil (WVO); how to filter WVO; and the best modes of WVO collection. After carrying out these training workshops and engine conversions, a pilot truck using about 900L per month was run in by waste pickers in Sao Paolo from January to April for a total fuel-related cost savings of around R$12,000-15,000.

· Impact. Cost savings for catadores of around R$12,000-15,000 ($7,000-9,000) during a four-month trial period.

· Income. Team leader Angela Hojnacki won an 2011 IDEAS award to advance a Green Grease pilot in the U.S.

· Press. Work with waste pickers in Brazil profiled by the MIT News Office in January, 2011. Green Grease was highlighted in August 2010 in PLAN76, the bulletin of the School of Architecture and Planning.


· Milestones. During its launch from December 2010 to January 2011, Konbit reached and exceed their 3,000 target number of unique callers in their trial. They are now approaching NGOs like Oxfam and Red Cross to use their workforce database. Digicel Haiti has been a helpful partner, as was Konbit for Haiti, a community center in Miami who conducted an alpha trial, provided feedback, and connected the team with veteran radio announcer Bob Lemoine to record all their prompts and our public service announcement used during the December-January launch.

· Impact. More than 3,000 people have created online “audio resumées” in their search for employment.

· Income. Konbit has received $4,000 in additional funding from the Freygish Foundation, which was matched by General Atlantic.

· Press. Konbit founders Greg Elliot and Aaron Zinman are featured in the Summer 2011 edition of MIT’s SPECTRVM Magazine.
Featured in the Huffington Post, “Hope for Haiti’s Unemployed.”
A New Plan for Job Growth in Haiti” featured on Public Radio International.
Konbit’s Skill-Indexing Platform for Earthquake Recovery Workers Launches in Haiti,” featured in Fast Company magazine.

Leveraged Freedom Wheelchair

· Milestones. The LFC has transferred their IP to two partners in India: Jaipur Foot and Pinnacle Industries. With these organizations, the team has begun running their final trial of chairs throughout the country. Following the trial they will ramp up a monthly production schedule.
All tooling required for large-scale production is being developed by Pinnacle at their own cost. LFC is in the process of incorporating an NGO to manage their IP: Global Research Innovation and Technology (GRIT). Tish Scolnik, also a part of an IDEAS-winning team, will be the director.
LFC co-creator Amos Winter has been offered, and accepted, a faculty position in the Dept. of Mechanical Engineering at MIT. His lab will focus on the creation of technologies for developing countries and emerging markets and will work with GRIT to disseminate them.

· Impact. Current trials involve distribution of 25 chairs across the country. After successful completion team plans to produce 1000 units per month.

· Income. Won $10,000 Editor’s Choice Award in R&D Magazine’s R&D100.

· Press. Won a Gold “world changing” award for wheelchair design in partnership with Continuum at the International Design Competition Spark Awards.
Won an Editor’s Choice Award at the R&D Magazine’s R&D100 Awards.

One Earth Designs (HeatSource, SolSource Tibet)

· Milestones. Raised $8k as a finalist in the Unreasonable Institute marketplace, earning a coveted spot in their summer institute.

· Impact.

· Income. $8,000 from the Unreasonable Institute;

· Press.

NETRA (PerfectSight)

· Milestones. Will present their work at TEDx Boston June 29, and outstanding opportunity. Five papers and a poster have been accepted at a range of optometry-related conferences. Recruited two new team members to create a spin-off company that will steward the technology and navigate regulatory processes such as FDA approval. The team is working out a version of the technology that does not require eye drops. NETRA has also been a finalist in several start-up competitions including MIT$100k and MassChallenge.

· Impact. 11 units have been distributed to a range of partners in the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Great Britain, Portugal, Angola, and India. These devices will be used in a series of clinical trials encompassing a range settings and patient demographics.

· Income. Won $300,000 in the Vodaphone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project. Also secured a $50,000 Ignition Grant from the MIT Deshpande Center and $50,000 Innovation Grant from Google.

· Press. In September 2010 CNN’s “The Big I” interviews MIT’s Ramesh Raskar about NETRA. The team’s work was profiled by the MIT News Office in June.

STG Technologies (Parabolic Power)

· Milestones. Two test sights for the energy system in place and ready for testing this fall, one in Lesotho at a user test site clinic, and the other at Eckerd College, a technology test site.

· Impact. 11 units have been distributed to a range of partners in the U.S., Brazil, Mexico, Great Britain, Portugal, Angola, and India. These devices will be used in a series of clinical trials encompassing a range settings and patient demographics.

· Income. October 2010 won a Conoco Philips $100,000 Energy Prize, and also in the fall a $42,500 grant from Constellation energy.

· Press. In March STG President Matt Orosz was interviewed for the Dartmouth. Read about it here. Earlier, STG’s work was mentioned in an article on alternative energy in Discover Magazine