This Funder Looks to Mobile Technology to Solve Global Problems. Who's It Backing?

Every year, the Vodafone Americas Foundation announces its Wireless Innovation Project (WIP), an open competition calling for innovators in the NGO community to submit their ideas for promising wireless technology solutions to some of the world’s most challenging global development problems. Up for grabs is a total of $600,000 in prize money, which is divvied up amongst the competition’s three top winners with a first place award of $300,000, second place $200,000 and third place $100,000.

The foundation recently announced this year’s winners, revealing that this competition attracts some pretty high level talent from the likes of prestigious institutions such as MIT and the California Institute of Technology.

This year’s first-place bragging rights and $300,000 prize was awarded to the California Institute of Technology for its SEVA Sustainable Sanitation project. The WIP prize money supports SEVA’s work in the development of low-cost mobile technologies for the monitoring, maintenance, and treatment of black water in developing countries.

WIPs second-place prize of $200,000 was awarded to WellDone Mobile Monitor, referred to as MoMo. This low-cost mobile device remotely monitors utilities use such as water flow rates and electricity consumption in rural areas located in developing countries. The goal here is to “improve the reliability of rural infrastructure and the accountability of development projects.”

Finally, MIT D-Lab was awarded the $100,000 prize for its USB-powered mobile stethoscope, which provides diagnostic assistance to healthcare workers and doctors in developing countries.  

The foundation recently announced the launch of its eighth annual WIP competition. Applications are being accepted from November 2, 2015 to February 27, 2016. Interested parties can find more information on this year’s contest on the Vodafone Americas website.

Vodafone Americas is the U.S.-based charitable arm of telecommunications conglomerate Vodafone, and it’s just one entity in the company’s global grid of foundations. Each of Vodafone’s country-specific foundations operate under the same guiding principles of applying mobile communications technology to solve “some of the world’s most pressing humanitarian challenges/social issues.”

Globally, the foundations have a collective eye on funding programs and projects related to healthcare, education, accessibility, and disaster relief and preparedness.

Related: Vodafone Americas Foundation: Grants for Global Development