MIT Solve recognizes international food and water innovators

Phot Credit: Samuel Stuart / MIT Solve

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation will be working with MIT’s Solve initiative on the challenge of Sustainable Urban Communities.

Solve issues global Challenges for innovators and entrepreneurs around the world to tackle using tech-based solutions. In May, Solve launched a Sustainable Urban Communities Challenge. They received more than 153 solutions from 15 countries. And for the United Nations General Assembly Week, they brought 15 finalists to the Solve Challenge Finals in New York City to pitch their solutions to a panel of expert judges and a live audience. Those chosen by the judges became Solvers, who join the Solve community to build partnerships with cross-sector leaders that help pilot, scale, and implement their solutions.

Here’s why this is important: It’s not news that we’re facing a very big environment crisis. While climate change will affect everyone around the world, cities which make up over half the world’s population face unique risks. Just this summer, we’ve seen challenges of flood waters in Sierra Leone, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and here in the United States. The initial impact and the residual damages from monsoons and stores are made stronger and more frequent by a warming climate. 

The good news is that every day brilliant young scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs are working to envision the green cities of the future and creating the solutions to make them a reality.

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation is committed to supporting projects around the world that build that kind of climate resiliency and restore balance to threatened ecosystems and communities.

The Sustainable Urban Communities Solvers chosen at the Solve Challenge Finals will be invited to submit proposals to help scale their work to a special innovation fund that will be housed at the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Together, we can work to improve the lives of millions of people while building better, greener cities for generations to come.

Here are the pitches from the new Sustainable Urban Communities Solvers:

  • CitySuites: A smart and prepaid water meter, and billing software, that bridges the gap between water utilities and the urban poor by lowering barriers to home connections by eliminating the needs and expenses of water meter reading, billing and collection.
  • Pipeguard: Pipguard builds robots that inspect water pipes from the inside to find leaks before they become catastrophic and to prevent loss of clean water worldwide. The end goal of Pipeguard’s robot Daisy is to save water and ensure reliable access to clean water.
  • WATERIG: WATERIG is a blockchain network that brings people together around energy-collecting and water-producing hubs and facilitates tracking, co-ownership, and exchange of surplus water and food produce.
  • Fresh Direct Nigeria: These stackable container farms allow farming to occur in urban areas that traditionally lack direct access to fresh produce. Fresh Direct utilizes technology to reduce the need for land, water and electricity and decreases the need for imported goods.
  • UNTAPPED: UNTAPPED integrates decentralized, off-grid water treatment centers with last-mile distribution and logistics of consumer good for fast-growing populations in developing countries by utilizing technology built for the challenges of informal markets.
  • Water Messiahs: A water purification system with very low wasted water built to prevent unnecessary ground water table depletion. Each plant has the potential to create a micro-entrepreneur and involves management from the local community in conjunction with ZWW’s technical support.
  • MealFlour: MealFlour uses edible insects to move the site of protein production into cities, by designing mealworm farms that can be raised at home instead of on a commercial scale to make enough mealworm flour to feed a family of four. The powder can also be easily transported and sold as an additional source of income.
  • Copia: Copia uses technology to allow businesses and event organizers to request pickups of excess food and have it instantly delivered to communities in need. It's designed as a simple and effective way to feed the hungry, save money by lowering disposal and overproduction costs, and reduce methane by keeping food out of landfills.
  • StillFresh: StillFresh is the first spoilage-monitoring strip in Asia Pacific and allows users to easily determine if food is spoiled through its color-changing technology. StillFresh enables food businesses to reduce costs incurred from spoilage, adopt a more efficient inventory system, and promote customer protection.
Last updated September 21, 2017

Through collaborative partnerships, we support innovative projects that protect vulnerable wildlife from extinction, while restoring balance to threatened ecosystems and communities. Our work is divided into six main program areas – Wildlands Conservation, Oceans Conservation, Climate Change, Indigenous Rights, Transforming California, and Innovative Solutions.

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