Social Innovations Driven by Empathy Get Support from Infosys Foundation

A term relatively unknown even a decade ago, ‘Social innovation’ today is addressing the most pressing problems that society faces – poverty, unemployment and health. There has been a long underlying need for solutions to such challenges that society faces; solutions that give people freedom and opportunity, and that which allows them to live life with dignity; solutions that pull-down social barriers.

While many aspire to find innovative solutions to society’s problems, few common fears continue to haunt many great ideas, impeding their chances at seeing the light of day. What are these fears?

  • Fear of taking risks.
  • Fear of the unknown.
  • And the most obvious – fear of finances.

With a commitment to support and accelerate innovation that positively impact the underprivileged, provide an impetus to the innovator through tech mentorship and generate greater impact on society, Infosys Foundation instituted the Aarohan Innovation Awards in 2018. In its debut round, Aarohan Awards recognized 12 Social Innovators from an overwhelming 900 entries. The total prize money awarded was INR 1.75 crores.

Nominations Open For ‘Round 2’

Following the incredible success of the Aarohan Social Innovation Awards in 2018, Infosys Foundation has renewed its pledge towards accelerating innovation in the social sector. In its 2019 edition, the Aarohan Awards has committed a sum of INR 1.5 crores towards scaling social innovation in India.

If you have an exceptional prototype/solution which can make a positive impact on society, then think no further – submit your nomination to Aarohan Social Innovation Awards 2019.

Please note, nominations for second edition awards are open only till 30th Sep 2019. Register and Submit Your Nomination Now!

Aarohan Social Innovation Awards 2018

Aarohan Social Innovation Awards was established with a vision to recognize and reward individuals, teams or NGOs that are developing unique solutions to ease the life of the underprivileged. Declaring its awards in 6 categories- healthcare, destitute care, rural development, women’s safety and empowerment, education & sports and sustainability, Infosys Foundation selected the winners from 900 submissions for Aarohan Social Innovation Awards 2018.

All submissions were judiciously evaluated by an illustrious jury including Prof. Trilochan Sastry, former Dean, IIM Bangalore; Padma Shree Mr. Arvind Gupta, an Indian toy inventor and science expert; Prof. Anil Gupta, visiting faculty member, IIM Ahmedabad, a globally renowned scholar of grassroots innovations and founder of the Honey Bee Network; Prof. GVV Sharma, Faculty member of the Department of Electrical Engineering and Coordinator, Teaching Learning Centre, IIT Hyderabad; Mr. Sumit Virmani, Senior Vice President and Global Head – Marketing, Infosys, and Infosys Foundation Chairperson and renowned author, Mrs. Sudha Murty.

Social Innovators Who Made Their Mark in 2018

Given the overwhelming response, the initial sum of INR 1.5 crores was increased in corpus to INR 1.75 crore and in place of 3 winners, the jury chose 12 innovators whom they could reward and help scale their innovation.

Here’s a look at the innovators and their innovations:

Platinum Winners – Prize Money INR 30 Lakhs

  1. Affordable Braille Printer by Khushwant Rai and Anjali Khurana

‘Braille Printers’ are inaccessible to most of the world’s visually impaired population due to its high cost. Khushwant Rai and Anjali Khurana are attempting to resolve this problem with their ‘Affordable Personal Braille Printer’ that comes with a multilingual text to Braille conversion software, called ‘BabelSoft.’ Normally Braille printer prices range from INR 1.5 lakh upwards. When this innovation comes to life it will be available at just 17 percent of this cost i.e. INR 25,000.

  1. The Inali Arm – Prashant Gade

India houses more than 22 million people with disabilities. Most of these people cannot afford prosthetic care. Prashant’s ‘Inali Arm’ is challenging this problem at large. The prosthetic arm designed by Prashant Gade has sensors which can read signals from the brain and instigate movement of the limbs. Prashant’s ‘Inali Arm’ aims to make prosthetic care affordable and accessible to the millions who are disabled.

Gold Winners – Prize Money INR 20 Lakhs

  1. Water disinfecting hand-pump By Mayur Ramrao Ladole, Gaurav Ghanshyam Dastane, and Nilesh Lakshman Jadhav

Mayur Ramrao Ladole along with his team are trying to make potable water accessible to millions of rural homes in India. The team has come up with a sustainable technology that can completely disinfect bore-well water with just a slight alteration in the pumping system. The technological phenomenon called ‘hydrodynamic cavitation’ can disrupt the bacterial cells present in the water and make it safe for consumption.

  1. SmartLOO Platform by Samagra Empowerment Foundation

Samagra is building and deploying an IoT and AI-enabled Governance platform called SmartLOO. This platform ensures all toilets built under the Swachh Bharat Mission stay clean and usable for the urban poor. With this technology, the founders Swapnil Chaturvedi and Iti Mathur, connect public toilets to municipal bodies and converts them into “smart toilet” with sensors which collect data on access to water and other infrastructure. SmartLOO aims to improve toilet cleaning & upkeep and standardize total hygiene for a large number of public toilets in the country.

Silver Winners – Prize Money INR 15 Lakhs

  1. Handicare By Sumanth Mudaliar and Vishrut Gaurangkumar Bhatt

Vishrut Bhatt and Sumanth Mudaliar designed ‘HANDICARE’ a device for specially-abled which ensures its user does not need to touch the ground to move around. This device has steering in front of the device, which needs to be wiggled right and left to move forward and also coordinates speed. Handicare can work manually and mechanically without being powered by fuel.

  1. Caeli By Aakash Bhadana, Vasu Kaushik, Rahul Gupta

Given the rising pollution levels, Haryana-based Aakash, Vasu and Rahul’s ‘Caeli’, is a smart, automated drug delivery and anti-pollution mask for respiratory patients. This solution can significantly improve the quality of life for respiratory patients living or traveling across polluted areas. With Caeli, Aakash and team aim to assist people with maximum risk, deal with the dangers of air pollution.

Bronze Winners – Prize Money INR 10 Lacs

  1. Wider (Agricultural equipment) By Sharwan Kumar Bajya

Rajasthan based Sharwan Kumar Bajya, created ‘Wider’, an affordable weed removal machine that processes weed into green manure. This machine reduces seed wastage by over 50 percent. Wider can be powered by solar panels or a bike engine; this can help farmers in weed removal and re-feed processed green manure that is a natural fertilizer for crops.

  1. Annie By Sanskriti Dawle

Karrnataka based Sanskriti Sawle innovated ‘Annie’ to help braille students. This audio-tactile device addresses the impediments of low braille literacy in India among the visually challenged. It helps them learn how to read, write and type in Braille independently. Annie can be used directly by children to learn Braille under the supervision of teachers and parents.

Jury’s Special Awards – Prize Money INR 5 lacs

  1. Ajinkya Vikas Dhariya from Maharashtra, for developing ‘PadCare’, a decentralized sanitary pad sterilization, segregation, and disposal unit to deal with the problem of menstrual waste.
  2. Saathi Pads from Gujarat, for making 100 percent biodegradable and compostable sanitary pads from banana fiber. These pads do not contain bleach or chemical; being all-natural these are much safer for women.
  3. Chirag Bhandari, Siddharth Gala and Kavya Ananth from Maharashtra, for ‘Yelo Bag’, a school bag designed to convert into a writing desk. Yelo Bag can solve the infrastructural problem prevailing in government schools. It will ensure no kids have to sit on the floors for long hours which could positively impact their health and well-being.
  4. Karibasappa MG, Dayananda K, and Anil Kumar MK, from Karnataka, for developing a solar insect trap to help trap insects which cause damage to crops and eliminate the use of chemical pesticides in agriculture. This insect trap operates with fully automatic solar charging along with auto on/off functionality.

Along with noteworthy acknowledgement, and cash award, the platinum and gold award winners will undergo a 12-week residential technical mentorship at IIT Hyderabad to develop and scale their innovations further.

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