Ag initiative wins Dell Social Innovation Challenge

Dell Innovation Challenge Winner 2013Waste not, want not. That premise led Solar Conduction Dryer, a groundbreaking agricultural initiative, to grand prize honors in this year’s Dell Social Innovation Challenge. The Solar Conduction Dryer team – based in Mumbai India – was awarded $60,000 to pursue an idea to address rampant food spoilage in that country. They also won this year’s audience choice award for social entrepreneurship.

The Dell Social Innovation Challenge recognizes promising young student entrepreneurs whose visionary ideas address some of the world’s most vexing problems. Not only do winners receive start-up capital, they’re also supported by world-class teaching and training, as well as access to a network of mentors.

Food for thought

Solar Conduction Dryer is a solar-based initiative for agro-processing that strives to improve the economic condition of Indian farmers.  The problem? India produces about 50 million tons of fruits and 85 million tons of vegetables per year, but only a scant 2 percent is processed. Moreover, 20-30 percent spoils before it reaches the market due to improper handling and storage. That means low market value and higher losses for many farmers already living in poverty.

To tackle this, Solar Conduction Dryer developed low-cost, simple food processing dehydration technologies that can be managed by all farmers, regardless of literacy level.  The technology delivers many benefits, including reducing food waste, developing a sustainable business model for farmers and encouraging women entrepreneurship. And it runs without the need for electricity, important for rural farmers who may not have access to an energy grid.

Winning ideas

Solar Conduction Dryer was one of five esteemed finalists for the award. The complete list of 2013 winners include:

Since the Dell Social Innovation Challenge was started, more than 15,000 students from 105 countries have proposed more than 4,500 ideas. Over $450,000 has gone out to more than 50 student teams from around the world. And this year’s event was held in conjunction with the Dell Social Innovation Think Tank ― a half-day, collaborative event featuring an influential group of entrepreneurs, financiers, academics and students raising awareness about social entrepreneurship.

Here’s a recap of the 2013 awards ceremony. You can follow them on Twitter@DellSocialInnov.  

Ann Braley Smith

Ann Braley Smith

Dell Contributor at Tech Page One
Ann Braley Smith works for Dell, and she writes about healthcare, the relationship of IT to government, and other topics.
Ann Braley Smith
Ann Braley Smith
Ann Braley Smith
Tags: Business,Entrepreneurship,Uncategorized