Announcing the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2022 Winners
by Francine Katsoudas
Cisco’s purpose is to Power an Inclusive Future for All, and pursuing our Purpose means we continually look to evolve and expand the positive impact we have on people and the planet. An essential aspect of accelerating our impact is supporting the next generation of visionaries using technology for social good.
I am honored to announce the winners of the sixth annual Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge, who will share a prize pool of $1 million. The Challenge is an online competition for early-stage tech entrepreneurs solving the world’s most challenging problems.
Over the past six years, Cisco’s Global Problem Solver Challenge has engaged some of the brightest minds around the world, generated strong competition for truly innovative solutions, and garnered a reputation for excellence. Since 2017, we’ve awarded $3.25 million USD to 78 start-ups in 25 countries. Ninety percent of past winners report that winning served as a catalyst to the growth of their organization.
This year’s competition generated nearly 1,200 submissions from teams in 99 countries. From this amazing array of teams and ideas, 15 winning teams were selected from 10 countries, including five not represented among previous winners: Australia, Colombia, Denmark, Ireland, and Pakistan. We are also thrilled to report that 67 percent of our 2022 winners have a woman founder.
In response to the growing urgency to respond to the climate crisis, this year we introduced five new Climate Impact and Regeneration Prizes totaling $300,000 USD. These prizes recognize solutions that can reduce or remove greenhouse gas (GHG) from the environment or regenerate depleted ecosystems.
I would like to personally thank all the entrepreneurs who submitted innovative solutions as part of this year’s competition. Your ideas, determination, and passion for helping people and the planet are truly inspirational.
I am thrilled to announce the following 15 winners of the 2022 Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge!
Grand Prize: Drop Access
Drop Access (Kenya) developed VacciBox, a portable, low-cost solar-powered fridge for use in healthcare facilities that don’t have a reliable cold chain to store vaccines. Coupled with an online application for remote monitoring and data collection, the fridge utilizes Internet of Things (IoT) technology. VacciBox is a versatile solution that eases vaccine distribution and management, and increases access to life-saving vaccines. Their solution has more than tripled vaccination rates at a rural health care center in Kenya.
Climate Impact & Regeneration Prize: A2P Energy Solution
A2P Energy Solution (India) created an AI-based platform called Carbon2Climate that identifies biomass burning points across India so crop residues can be collected, converted into biofuel, and sold to buyers. This substantially reduces greenhouse gas emissions and increases farmers’ incomes. Carbon2Climate also collects satellite images that document the volume of biomass collected instead of burned to calculate the resulting carbon impact.
Regional First Runners-Up
($75,000 USD each)
Beamlink (United States) tackles the issue of connectivity during a natural disaster by deploying mesh networks of small, portable cell towers that are affordable, power-efficient, easy-to-setup, and automatically connect to one another. This solution provides an alternative to bringing in cell towers on trucks or flying in engineers to repair existing towers.
PowerWells (Australia) addresses the dual global problems of electronic waste management and lack of access to basic electricity. PowerWells does this by repurposing electronic waste as the materials for constructing small-scale solar power systems, which are then used for basic electricity provision in communities that don’t otherwise have electricity — effectively leveraging each problem as part of a solution for the other.
PurCity (Denmark) developed a patented, sustainable, and highly efficient self-cleaning air purification system (GapS) that directly captures carbon (CO2), cleans air, and produces sellable CO2 byproducts. Each 3 m2 of GapS panels is estimated to directly capture 22 Tons of CO2/building (equivalent to 1,013 mature trees carbon capture/year) as well as contributing to saving 10-20% Energy Consumption in the building annually.
HBCU Startup Prize: Salveo Innovations
Salveo Innovations (United States) built a solution called Tyrone to improve health literacy and reduce barriers to health information. Using AI and adaptive language, Tyrone grows smarter with usage and integrates into existing healthcare platforms to simplify essential health information.
Climate Impact & Regeneration Prize Runners-Up
($50,000 USD, each)
Farm to Flame Energy (United States) builds electricity generators that use biomass waste as fuel. These proprietary electricity generators integrate seamlessly into the existing infrastructure of commercial-scale buildings, providing a global solution that can enable grid decarbonization.
Katchi Technologies (Canada) designed a replacement fish net system that eliminates contact with the ocean floor and reduces greenhouse emissions. Fishers are able to harvest more sustainably with less impact on the environment and untargeted species, allowing fish habitats to recover and less fish to be unnecessarily killed and wasted.
Unergy (Colombia) created a decentralized platform that allows anyone to invest and consume clean energy. The team’s solution unites people through their collaborative platform who want to invest in sustainability with those who want to control their energy and reduce costs.
Working Trees (United States) developed a technology platform that leverages smartphone camera and LiDAR, satellite data, and machine learning models to democratize access to carbon markets for farmers of all sizes, making it possible for farmers to get paid for the carbon stored in the trees.
($50,000 USD, each)
M-SCAN (Uganda) created a portable power-efficient ultrasound device that works on laptops, tablets, and mobile phones. Since traditional ultrasound machines are very expensive, this solution helps bridge the gap in low-resource regions like Sub-Saharan Africa.
Positive Carbon (Ireland) designed food waste sensors that monitor a kitchen’s food waste. This shows businesses exactly what food they’re wasting and how to reduce it, allowing them to cut their food waste in half, reducing their food bills, and helping the planet all at the same time.
WonderTree (Pakistan) transforms physiotherapy, education, and cognitive development exercises into interactive games that can be played on a computer. Their affordable & accessible solution works in schools and home settings and doesn’t require skilled operators.
People’s Choice Award: Afriagrimark
Afriagrimark (Kenya) is a Geo-location marketplace connecting truckers to vendors for immediate vegetable delivery from farmers, cutting transportation costs, delivery time, and post-harvest losses. Combining distributed ledger and AI to synchronize information in real-time ensures traceability and quality.
Cisco Employees’ Choice Award: Asbah
Asbah (India) aims to provide affordable and clean drinking water to underserved communities by setting up community water filtration plants. The water is dispensed with the help of rechargeable digitized Asbah cards, and the plant is managed by two women entrepreneurs.
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