KUALA LUMPUR, July 2 – Singapore-based EcoWorth Tech and the Stimson Center from the United States have emerged as winners of the 2021 SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards.
The awards, created by Prudence Foundation and supported by Humanitarian Partner International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and technology partner Lenovo, is aimed at recognising and acknowledging the crucial role that innovative technology solutions play in protecting and saving lives ‘before, during and after’ natural disaster events.
In announcing the winners, Mr Donald Kanak, Chairman of Prudence Foundation, said they were selected from close to 60 entries around the world, and form part of eight finalists that took part in a virtual live pitch to a judging panel.
Winning the first prize in the for-profit category, EcoWorth Tech’s Carbon Fibre Aerogel (CFA) sponge, made of low-cost natural materials such as waste biomass, renewable cotton or wastepaper, is capable of cleaning waters following an oil spill. The company’s reusable, environmentally-friendly CFA sponge can also absorb oil of up to 190 times its own weight, mitigating the environmental impact of polluting industries.
The Stimson Center, meanwhile, won in the non-profit category. Its Mekong Dam Monitor is a satellite imagery solution that leverages remote sensing data to monitor water levels in dams to help communities prepare in advance of flooding events or water supply disruption caused by upstream dam operations.
“The SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards is a natural extension of our work to help communities recover from natural disasters through scalable and preventative technology solutions that can protect and save lives. We believe D-Tech should be front of mind for innovators, venture capitalists and businesses,” said Mr Kanak, adding that the awards served as a platform to bring their knowledge, capabilities and investments to support D-Tech innovation and make the world a safer place.
Asia is the world’s most disaster-affected region, with over 50 percent of global natural disasters taking place in Asia, including China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
The awards has provided a launchpad for the company to meet like-minded innovators and environmentalists around the world, said Mr Andre Stolz, Co-Founder and CEO of EcoWorth Tech. “We will use the grant to further develop and deploy our solution, conduct more real-environment testing and encourage up-cycling.”
“Participating in the Awards has been a very rewarding experience for our team. We had ample opportunities to meet with expert coaches who helped us sharpen our strategies and brainstorm new ways to scale and evolve our solution. We plan to use the grant to localise our services and language interfaces for use across Southeast Asia,” said Mr Brian Eyler, Director of Southeast Asia Programme at the Stimson Center and co-lead for the Mekong Dam Monitor.
Building resilience against disasters in the region has never been more critical, as COVID-19 has highlighted the growing vulnerability of people and communities to disasters. The pandemic has infected over 37 million people in Asia and is expected to cause US$2.7 trillion in economic losses.
Mr Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director of IFRC, said, “We commend all the finalists and winners who have come up with such important innovative solutions at a time where we face unprecedented environmental challenges and threats due to climate change.”
Edited by Suraya Abdullah