The Vodafone Americas Foundation recently announced the winners of its 10th annual Wireless Innovation Project (WIP), which awarded $600,000 in three-year grants to tackle critical issues facing the global community.
The first-place prize of $300,000 was awarded to a point-of-care platform called SMART, for its remote diagnostic testing targeting sickle cell disease (SCD) and malaria. The awards were announced at the Social Innovation Summit 2018 in San Francisco, California.
A second-place grant of $200,000 was awarded to cerVIA, a cervical cancer screening tool. Third place went to ENVision Mobile, with a $100,000 grant for a business management app that helps financially illiterate entrepreneurs.
A video of the winning teams and their projects is available here.
“Since its launch in 2009, the Wireless Innovation Project has built a strong network of inspiring entrepreneurs developing technologies that positively impact communities around the world,” Andrew Morawski, president and chairman of the Vodafone Americas Foundation’s board of directors, said in a press release. “We view SMART, cerVIA and ENVision Mobile as great additions to the WIP community and look forward to helping them bring their innovative solutions to market to help solve critical issues such as disease and financial illiteracy.”
SMART, which stands for “Sickle and Malaria Accurate Remote Testing,” is an integrated point-of-care technology platform developed in collaboration with Case Western Reserve University, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Hemex Health, and eHealth Africa.
The platform can diagnose, track, and monitor SCD and malaria patients in underserved communities by using two SCD and malaria integrated devices that provide affordable remote testing and help facilitate local and national responses to epidemics. According to the project’s website, the wireless SCD device can provide easy-to-interpret results in eight minutes.
SCD affects nearly 25 million people worldwide. Up to 80 percent of infants born with SCD in Africa do not survive past the age of 5.
“With the grants awarded through the Wireless Innovation Project and the mentoring each winner will gain access to via Vodafone, we’re excited about the potential each of our winners could have in the global community,” said June Sugiyama, director of Vodafone Americas Foundation. “Disease and financial illiteracy are two critical issues we regularly see affecting developing countries, and by putting powerful solutions in the hands of individuals via mobile technology, we believe true impact can be made. We’re honored to recognize another group of potentially game-changing solutions for the 10th year in a row.”
In addition to grant funds, WIP winners receive support and guidance to advance their solutions to the global marketplace.
The Vodafone WIP Awards have distributed $6.1 million in grants to date. That money has helped support entrepreneurs, startups, nongovernmental organizations, and other projects focusing on the theme of “Connecting for Good.”