SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Liz McMillan, Carmen Gonzalez, Zakia Bouachraoui, Roger Strukhoff, David Linthicum

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Vodafone Americas Foundation Announces 2012 Wireless Innovation Project™ Winners

The Vodafone Americas Foundation and mHealth Alliance are pleased to announce the 2012 winners of the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project and the mHealth Alliance Award, a competition designed to spark innovation and help solve pressing global issues. The winning projects include Wireless Bug Sensor, a wireless sensor that helps farmers “spy” on insects; OScan, an inexpensive and easy-to-use tool for screening oral cancer; and InSight, a simple credit building tool for entrepreneurs in developing countries. Each of these projects leverage the ever-increasing accessibility to wireless technology to solve prevalent social problems. Collectively, the projects will be awarded $650,000 in cash and prizes to further develop their projects for implementation and adoption. The winners will accept their awards at the Global Philanthropy Forum in Washington D.C. on April 17, 2012.

"It’s incredibly energizing to be able recognize these innovative solutions for social good," said June Sugiyama, Director of Vodafone Americas Foundation™. "This is our fourth year of this competition and we continue to identify unique and impactful solutions.”

Introducing the 2012 Wireless Innovation Project Winners:

1st Place, winner of $300,000 – Wireless Bug Sensor, University of California, Riverside

A largely unrecognized barrier that farmers face to crop production is insect infestation, which is particularly difficult for farmers in developing countries due to high costs and limited access to pesticides. The Wireless Bug-Sensor team at UC Riverside in collaboration with ISCA Technologies has created a technology that senses the location, type, and number of harmful insects in the field, alerting the farmer about the type of intervention needed with a once-a-day text message. Inspired by the lasers used in spy movies to listen in on conversations, this wireless technology drastically reduces the costs typically spent by farmers on untargeted, blanket pesticide spraying. Ultimately, this will increase profits for farmers as well as alleviate hunger worldwide.
http://www.cs.ucr.edu/~eamonn/CE/
http://www.iscatech.com/exec/wirelessbugsensor.htm

2nd Place, winner of $200,000, and mHealth Alliance winner of $50,000 in strategic and networking support – OScan, Stanford University

70% of the world's tobacco consumption comes from developing countries and is sharply rising, leading to a large number of deadly diseases, including oral cancer. Early detection and treatment of these diseases can dramatically improve survival rates. The OScan team at Stanford University has developed an affordable screening tool that brings standardized, multi-modal imaging of the oral cavity into the hands of rural health workers around the world, allowing individuals to easily and effectively screen for oral cancer. This inexpensive device mounts on a conventional camera phone and allows for data to be instantly transmitted to dentists and oral surgeons. OScan aims to provide a means to empower health workers to connect early stage patients to health care providers and teach communities about the importance of oral hygiene.
http://stanford.edu/~manup/Oscan

3rd Place, winner of $100,000 – InSight, InVenture

In many developing countries small business entrepreneurs are unable to grow their businesses and take advantage of financial services simply due to the fact that they are perceived to be risky. With InSight, an SMS-based money management tool, these entrepreneurs can track their finances in their native language, increasing their financial literacy and more efficiently running their businesses. More importantly, InSight serves as a global credit rating platform for small business owners. By creating access to credit reporting opportunities for these individuals, InSight will help to lower interest rates, mitigate risk, and increase profits. This is a vital tool that will lift entrepreneurs and other individuals in developing countries out of poverty.
http://www.inventure.org/using/learn-about-insight

“The Vodafone Americas Foundation partnership with the mHealth Alliance is exceptionally powerful in that it allows us to propel ideas for wireless technology into action,” said Patty Mechael, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance. “The field of mHealth is constantly growing, and now more than ever it is essential for us to support innovations that will enable us to overcome development challenges and have a meaningful impact on people’s lives. This kind of competition inspires entrepreneurs and innovators to explore unchartered territory, enabling the realization of visionary ideas that improve communities throughout the world.”

Open to nonprofit organizations, universities, and NGOs (Non-governmental Organizations) each year, the Wireless Innovation Project selects three winners and helps stimulate the projects through the next stages of development, such as prototyping and scaling. Since the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project was launched in 2009, nine winners have been awarded more than $1.8 million in cash and additional benefits. Vodafone provides invaluable support for the winning projects by integrating the teams with the foundation’s vast network of social entrepreneurs, NGO’s and international agencies.

About the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project

Vodafone Americas Foundation™ launched the Wireless Innovation Project™ in 2009 to make a global impact through innovative wireless solutions. Applicants compete for first, second and third-place prizes worth $300,000, $200,000 and $100,000. The mHealth Alliance Award winner will receive an additional prize package worth $50,000, which includes strategic and networking support from the mHealth Alliance, an organization dedicated to enabling the use of mobile technologies to improve health throughout the world.

A panel of esteemed judges from the fields of wireless engineering, international development, social entrepreneurship, and business evaluate the applications for their potential to address issues in the fields of education, health, access to communication, the environment, and economic development.

Further details about the competition and winning projects can be found at project.vodafone-us.com. More information about the mHealth Alliance and its work can be found at www.mhealthalliance.org.

About the Vodafone Americas Foundation™

Vodafone Americas Foundation™ is part of Vodafone’s global network of foundations. It is affiliated with Vodafone Group Plc, the world's leading mobile telecommunications company, with ownership interests in more than 30 countries and Partner Markets in more than 40 countries. As of March 31, 2011, Vodafone had approximately 370 million proportionate customers worldwide. In the U.S., the foundation directs its philanthropic activities towards wireless technology projects in order to make a positive and enduring impact on the community. The Foundation is driven by a passion for the world around us. It makes grants that help people in the community and around the world lead fuller lives.

About the mHealth Alliance

The mHealth Alliance champions the use of mobile technologies to improve health throughout the world. Working with diverse partners to integrate mHealth into multiple sectors, the Alliance serves as a convener for the mHealth community to overcome common challenges by sharing tools, knowledge, experience, and lessons learned. The mHealth Alliance advocates for more and better quality research and evaluation to advance the evidence base; seeks to build capacity among health and industry decision-makers, managers, and practitioners; promotes sustainable business models; and supports systems integration by advocating for standardization and interoperability of mHealth platforms. The mHealth Alliance also hosts HUB (Health Unbound), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and founded by the Rockefeller Foundation, Vodafone Foundation, and UN Foundation, the Alliance now also includes HP, the GSM Association, and Norad among its founding partners. For more information, visit http://www.mhealthalliance.org.

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