WaterSan Perspective Reporter
November 22, 2011
University of South Florida’s Patel School of Global Sustainability through its Center for Global Solutions and with the support of the International Water Association (IWA) has launched the first Patel Grand Challenge, a challenge to inventors in developing nations to create a low-cost and easy-to-use water purification device that could save millions from the perils of contaminated drinking water.
The official launch took place at the IWA Development Congress & Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur where more than 600 participants attended from around the world.
Philanthropist Kiran C. Patel along with School of Global Sustainability Director Kala Vairavamoorthy announced the competition at the conference opening ceremony following a keynote address by Peter Chin Fah Kui, Malaysia’s minister for Energy, Green Technology and Water
World health officials report that one in eight people do not have access to safe drinking water, and more than half the diseases worldwide are caused by dirty water. By some estimates, a child dies every 20 seconds – some 1.5 million children each year – from waterborne illnesses such as cholera, typhoid and diarrhea.
Millions of people in developing countries collect their drinking water from contaminated water sources using water pots and Jerrycans. The Patel Grand Challenge seeks the invention of a technologically-advanced yet inexpensive “Smart Pot” that would automatically disinfect water at the point it is collected.
“Those who live in developing countries know the problem; they see it and live with it each day. I’m sure that they have thought of ingenious and innovative ways to solve this problem,” Patel said. “I’m confident that next year we will have a tried and tested design of the Smart Pot. Let’s make the Smart Pot a reality.”
The challenge welcomes pre-proposal submissions through March 2012. Five applicants will be selected for a shortlist and awarded up to US $8,000. The finalists will be invited to prepare full proposals that will be reviewed by an international panel of experts at a major event. The winning proposal will receive up to US $100,000. Working alongside the Patel Center of Global Solutions, the winner will then build and develop a prototype of the Smart Pot.
“It is wonderful that the Patel Center has initiated the Patel Grand Challenge initiative. The first of these challenges – the Smart Pot, will revolutionize lives around the world, particularly the poor and vulnerable in our society,” said USF President Judy Genshaft. “USF is proud to be part of such a noble and innovative challenge. I wish all potential inventors and researchers success.”
This competition is open to applicants from academic and research institutions, consulting firms and NGOs that are officially registered and located within developing countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
“One of the primary goals of the Patel School of Global Sustainability is to support results-oriented research solutions. We are very grateful to Dr. Patel for financially supporting this important initiative that applies to a problem encountered across so many different countries,” Vairavamoorthy said.
The Patel School of Global Sustainability houses USF’s research and education in global sustainability. The Patel School of Global Sustainability comprises the Patel Center for Global Solutions, the M.A. Program in Global Sustainability and the university’s Office of Sustainability.