Monday, October 10, 2011

Annual competition for most promising wireless innovations


Annual competition for most promising wireless innovations runs October 10 through December 31, 2011 with awards totaling $650,000 in cash and prizes

Redwood City, CA (October 10, 2011) – The Vodafone Americas Foundation and mHealth Alliance today announced a call for submissions for the annual Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ and the mHealth Alliance Award, a competition that identifies and supports wireless-related technologies with high potential to solve critical global issues. Proposals will be accepted from October 10 through December 31, 2011, with winners announced in April 2012.

Vodafone Americas Foundation™ launched the Wireless Innovation Project™ in 2009 to make a global impact through innovative wireless solutions. Applicants compete for first, second and third-place prizes worth $300,000, $200,000 and $100,000. Additionally, the mHealth Alliance Award winner will receive a prize package worth $50,000, which includes strategic and networking support from the mHealth Alliance, an organization dedicated to enabling the delivery of quality healthcare to the furthest reaches of wireless networks.

“With over six billion cell phone users worldwide, Vodafone has long recognized that wireless technology has the potential to make significant impacts in the world – particularly in developing countries – and we are committed to utilizing mobile technology to bring about a healthier, more prosperous and environmentally sustainable world,” said Peter Barry, President and Chair of Vodafone Americas Foundation. “All of our past winners have gone on to make significant progress with their innovations and, with the help of our prize money, are that much closer to reaching the people who will benefit greatly from their solutions.”

A panel of judges from the fields of wireless engineering, international development, social entrepreneurship, and business will evaluate the applications for their potential to solve issues in the fields of education, health, access to communication, economic development, and the environment.

Projects should be global in scope and must be at a stage of research where an advanced prototype or field/market test can occur during the award period. Details about eligibility and the application can be found at .

“The Vodafone Americas Foundation partnership with the mHealth Alliance comes at a tipping point in the field of mHealth,” said Patty Mechael, Executive Director of the mHealth Alliance. “Increasing demand for innovative approaches to operationalizing mHealth for scale and sustainability in global efforts is leading to improved access to health services and health outcomes. Unique mHealth innovations from competitions like this help the mHealth Alliance stay on the cutting edge with outside-the-box thinking to provide the leadership, fora, and support mechanisms needed to move mHealth forward.”

Since winning the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project and mHealth Alliance Award, most of the winners have been able to improve by redesigning their prototypes in order to bring them closer to market. Many of the past winners are now running field tests in developing countries in Africa, Asia and Central America, and some have gone on to win other prestigious awards and funding opportunities.

“Winning the Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Award has allowed us to advance our project significantly, but most importantly given us the recognition to go on to win more awards,” said Gil Zussman, of Columbia University’s EnHANTs Project, 2009 Wireless Innovation Project™ winner. “Vodafone has supported us in countless ways during the past two years, propelling our progress and magnifying our social impact.”

Further details about the competition can be found at . More information about the mHealth Alliance and its work can be found at .

The 2011 Vodafone Americas Foundation Wireless Innovation Project™ winners:

First Place: NETRA
From the MIT Media Lab, NETRA is a clip-on eyepiece for mobile phones that can instantly screen for eye conditions and transmit data to an optometrist, allowing for early treatment of common refractive eye disorders and cataracts that disable more than half a billion people worldwide.

Second Place and mHealth Alliance Award Winner: Smart Diaphragm
From UC San Francisco, Smart Diaphragm is a wireless monitoring and early warning system for high-risk pregnancies that can be easily administered by a patient at a low cost. Smart Diaphragm detects decreasing levels of collagen in the cervix – an indicator of impending pre-term labor – with results transmitted to a cloud database monitored by physicians.

Third Place: CoolComply
CoolComply, a collaboration between Massachusetts General Hospital, Innovations in International Health at MIT, and an international NGO, the Global Health Committee, is a solar-powered wireless detection system that monitors the doses and temperature of medication for patients undergoing treatment for Multiple Drug Resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB), relaying readings via wireless technology to local healthcare workers in order to track treatment and intervene when necessary.

About the Vodafone Americas Foundation™
Vodafone Americas Foundation™ is part of Vodafone’s global network of foundations. It is affiliated with Vodafone Group Plc, the world's leading mobile telecommunications company, with ownership interests in more than 30 countries and Partner Markets in more than 40 countries. As of March 31, 2011, Vodafone had approximately 370 million proportionate customers worldwide. In the U.S., the foundation directs its philanthropic activities towards the San Francisco Bay and the Metro Denver Areas where most Vodafone employees live and work, and where it strives to make a positive and enduring impact on the community. The Foundation is driven by a passion for the world around us. It makes grants that help people in the community and around the world lead fuller lives.

About the mHealth Alliance
The mHealth Alliance mobilizes innovation to deliver quality health at the furthest reaches of wireless networks and mobile devices. Working with diverse partners, the Alliance advances mHealth through research, advocacy, and support for the development of interoperable solutions and sustainable deployment models. The Alliance sponsors innovation challenges and conferences, leads cross-sector mHealth initiatives, and hosts HUB (Health Unbound), a global online community for resource sharing and collaborative solution generation. Hosted by the United Nations Foundation, and founded by the UN Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and Vodafone Foundation, the mHealth Alliance now also includes PEPFAR, HP, NORAD, and the GSM Association among its founding partners. For more information, visit

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