SAN JOSE, Calif. — In celebrating the 16th annual Tech Awards, The Tech Museum of Innovation and Applied Materials took a look back at the previous 15 years, choosing to celebrate six laureates of years past at the Nov. 17 gala at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center here.
Among the laureates honored — again — were organizations with strong ties to India, including International Development Enterprises -India and D-Rev.
Additionally, PATH, which has impacted developing countries such as India, was awarded with the third annual Laureate Impact Award for making significant progress toward solving major global problems.
The laureates were selected from the 287 laureates named in the previous 15 years for the progress they have made since first being honored.
IDE-India, a nonprofit that invented a low-cost drip irrigation system and foot-powered water pump, was awarded with the Sobrato Organization Economic Development Award.
A Tech Awards laureate in 2004 and 2010, IDE-India’s irrigation system and water pump has reached more than one and a quarter million households, impacting in excess of 7 million people in India.
The distribution of their pumps and irrigation systems has resulted in a cumulative additional net income of more than $1.4 billion.
IDE-India chief executive officer Amitabha Sadanghi told India-West that from the pumps, the people impacted have risen from the poverty level and are able to produce crops throughout the year.
Sadanghi said his hope, coming from New Delhi to be present in Silicon Valley, was to “promote the concept of clean energy and how to help people overcome poverty and sustain a business.”
The IDE-India chief executive officer said his goal going forward is to move to a more solar option, while improving the productivity of the smaller pump.
D-Rev, short for Design Revolution, was a Tech Awards laureate in 2013. It was honored again this year with the Sutter Health Award.
D-Rev designs and delivers medical technologies for underserved populations. The company developed low-cost phototherapy lamps, called Brilliance, rugged enough for harsh environments. The Brilliance series of neonatal machines have provided potentially life-saving treatment to more than 166,000 infants.
In 2015 alone, D-Rev treated more than 100,000 babies who suffered from severe jaundice.
“That project started when an Indian doctor mentioned to one of my colleagues that in the big picture of global health, when thinking of what affects poor people, we’re focused on these big items,” San Francisco, Calif.-based D-Rev CEO Krista Donaldson told India-West.
Donaldson added that the smaller items — which are equally important — “are really affecting poor families and families that don’t have access to quality healthcare.”
D-Rev worked on the smaller items, such as jaundice, with its photo-therapy, because the devices aren’t as effective.
Of the more than 180,000 babies treated with Brilliance in four years, more than 150,000 babies would not have received effective treatment, Donaldson noted.
“I think what’s really exciting about it is the model that D-Rev took, to design a product that meets the needs of doctors and their hospitals,” Donaldson said with pride of being able to help so many babies.
Brilliance, priced with India-based company Phoenix, is $400 in India to ensure hospitals that wouldn’t otherwise have photo-therapy equipment, have it. Comparable equipment costs upwards of $1,500 Donaldson said.
The D-Rev CEO credits the 2013 laureate as giving the organization that would possibly not be seen as a health organization with the credibility it needed to impact the tens of thousands of lives it has.
Going forward, Donaldson said D-Rev, with the help of R&D manager Vinesh Narayan, can expand its product portfolio, “to become the med-tech company that is serving the hardest to reach markets in the world.”
For being named laureates, IDE-India, D-Rev and the four other laureates received a $50,000 unrestricted cash prize. All told, the awards program has doled out $5 million in unrestricted cash prizes to organizations who have helped the lives of more than 2 billion people.
“Applied Materials is proud to support the work of all the laureates over the last 15 years who have given so generously of their talent, courage and determination,” Joe Pon, corporate vice president at Applied Materials, said at the gala. “These creative entrepreneurs renew our faith in the potential of individuals to apply technology to do good, and remind us how our daily work here in Silicon Valley can improve lives throughout the world.”
PATH is an international nonprofit health organization that has produced 81 products deployed in more than 70 countries. It reaches more than 150 million people a year with lifesaving technologies, including a recent meningitis vaccine designed for deployment in Africa that is on pace to protect 400 million people by 2020.
“We work extensively in India for 20 or 25 years,” PATH chief executive Steve Davis told India-West. “A lot of vaccine work we do is with Indian partners and those are vaccines not only for India but for the rest of the world,” he added.
PATH, a science-based organization founded 40 years ago, directly impacts 150 million to 200 million people each year, Davis noted.
“We reach a scale beyond what most NGOs are able to do because we focus on new innovations and how to ensure that (the products) get picked up by companies or governments or other nonprofits to make sure that they are sustainable and scalable,” Davis added.
The organization is tied into researchers – internally and externally at hospitals and schools – to stay on the cutting edge.
Davis referenced the organization’s ability to create a vaccine for meningitis A for sub-Saharan Africa.
“We needed to be very inexpensive and we needed to be out of the cold for quite a while. So we were able to keep up with the science,” Davis said. “Today, we’ve seen that reach about 400 million people and nobody’s had the disease. So we’ve virtually eliminated meningitis A from Africa with that effort.”
With its 2016 award, PATH became the first four-time laureate in Tech Awards history, having previously won in 2003, 2007 and 2009.
“We’re very honored and lucky that The Tech has been such a big supporter of our work,” Davis said. “It’s been wonderful to win on three different times (prior to 2016) on three different projects and they continue to scale up. (The 2016 Lifetime Achievement Award) brings a great spotlight to our work.”
Going forward, the Tech Museum of Innovation is expanding its Tech Awards program with the addition of ‘The Tech for Global Good’.
The Tech Awards will remain in place, however, it’s moving the gala to the Tech Museum, while the Tech for Global Good program, created to help develop a cadre of young Silicon Valley innovators focused on using technology to benefit humanity, will honor laureates and develop exhibits and programs about their work with the goal of inspiring the next-generation of social entrepreneurs.
“It’s time to expand The Tech Awards from a single evening enjoyed by a fortunate few to a year-long program,” said Tim Ritchie, president and chief executive officer of The Tech. “We have the opportunity to inspire hundreds of thousands of people a year and engage the hearts and minds of young people with purpose-driven technology.”
The Tech for Global Good program, beginning in the fall of 2017, will revolve around a major global issue each year – beginning with technology and health.