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ITU Telecom World Young Innovators Competition: "and the winner is...."

MarinaCherbonnier's picture

Last August and September, YPARD was one of the juries for the 2013 ITU Telecom World Young Innovators Competition, in the section Food and water wastage. The contest aims at recognizing young people who are using technological innovation to improve the social reality of their communities and giving them a boost in their activity.

The contest had several phases. First, it was about reviewing the short proposals for each project and giving constructive feedback for improvement of the projects’ design. Then, the candidates were requested to work on their business plans (5000 words) and submit it for final selection.
The finalists of the contest were invited to a series of webinars prior to be invited to ITU Telecom World, a high level conference and exposition in Bangkok, where they would display their innovations and pitch to investors in. This is also where they were awarded their prize money.

15 proposals were enrolled in the contest on food and water wastage management, out of 600 submissions. 9 candidates submitted their final business plans. The projects were much diversified, focusing on food re-distribution for several of them, through online systems of retailing and, for instance, by liaising with restaurants. It was also about crop waste management, intelligent refrigerator, no-waste-tips sharing online, organic briquette, water and energy saving for a responsible farming... The proposals came from different parts of the world: Mexico, Philippines, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, China, Azerbaijan, USA, Ecuador, Botswana, Canada, India, The Netherlands.

We liked the focus on the lack of awareness of people about food wastage – which, we believe, is a main challenge for change. We also appreciated those projects based on community driven activities, where individuals can take part and benefit, share tips, train others etc. We particularly enjoyed innovative projects that generated income and therefore could be more sustainable while giving its true value to food and water. Some projects were very inspiring and we could feel that these were driven by passion for development.

On a general view, we would have enjoyed more information on how some projects were making products cheaper to the consumers – some innovation didn’t seem very affordable. In addition, we would have appreciated evidences on how these projects have the potential to serve the poorest and thus contribute to fight poverty and hunger – beyond environmental considerations.

Some projects showed a clear and realistic idea about what the project would concretely look like throughout its implementation. Some business plans  could have shown more background information particularly though. While different stakeholders were solicited from government to private sector it would have been more powerful to see how their contribution was ensured. We would have expected more information on the budget/financial aspect of it, such as monitoring and evaluations elements to assess the impact of the projects. More information would have been useful on the way the end-users would be approached and how such projects would be up-scaled.

And the winner is...

The winner or the food and water wastage section is..... SalvageHub represented by Oscar Ekponimo from Nigeria – a web and mobile platform to reduce food wastage at individual and retail levels.

The winner was one of our favourite. I liked the initiative and the motivation expressed, such as the benefit from the competition mentioned. On the first phases, we were expecting more evidences of a strong research and analysis of the geographic context and market, before the implementation plan. i.e retailers mapping plan, areas covered, etc. We were also expecting more information on the way they would get indicators to measure the impact of the project - although the objectives they wanted to reach were made clear. All these were covered by the Business Plan on the second phase.

We were also suggesting that they try crowdfund for the kickstart instead of committing their own resources. I had expressed my concern about how to make sure that this project feeds further development. i.e. a street kid fed is a street kid empowered to fight against his state of poverty. I wondered if they could imagine a partnership that would enable to put their project in a more holistic perspective. The partner would make the follow-up on accompanying the street kids (in this context) for capacity building (or else). It would then make their project even stronger.

All in all it was a well thought project; we could feel a great energy and a manifest effort to take jury's comments in consideration. We wish Oscar and his team the very best with this youth-led innovative project for a true development goal.