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UNDP and Hackster announce winners of COVID 19 Detect and Protect Challenge


The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Hackster.io, have announced 10 grand prize winners today of the COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge. The ten winners were selected from over 350 submissions from over 50 countries, half of which came from low- to lower-middle-income countries including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.

The COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge provided innovators, makers, and developers globally an opportunity to identify open-source, low-tech, and inexpensive hardware solutions to support developing countries in tackling and recovering from COVID-19. Many of these innovations cost less than US$50 to build, and some as low as $10. Most can be built from globally available and easily sourced components, with instructions available.

“The COVID19 Detect and Protect Challenge addresses the needs and realities of communities by fostering micro-innovation with strong local ownership.” Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support said.

“Open-source is crucial in achieving this as it removes barriers to innovation and provides an opportunity to explore locally implementable recovery options,” he added.

As part of the challenge, there have been 30 Impact Winners so far. Their innovations include touchless water and soap dispensers, social distancing gadgets, 3D-printed smart face shields, contactless thermometers, face mask disinfection devices and low-tech healthcare robots.

“We have run innovation challenges for some of the biggest names in technology, but this has been our most successful initiative ever with thousands of participants and more than 300 high-quality submissions. Each idea likely represents hundreds of hours of design and engineering efforts that might not have come to life if it wasn’t for the global Hackster community. Most importantly, we are now providing the tools and equipment needed to get these innovations to the places where they can make the most difference.” Adam Benzion, Co-Founder of Hackster said.

As a way forward, the focus is now on building and testing these solutions on the ground, where relevant, and supporting community-driven supply chains in developing countries to get these innovations to where they are needed most. With the aim to ensure positive impact on the global fight against COVID-19, this process has demonstrated how global innovations can be captured and applied locally with the promise to make real, sustainable change. 

By working with global tech partners in this effort, the UNDP is hopeful that this challenge can help speed up response and recovery efforts, getting countries and communities a bit closer to the new normal.

Below is the full list of winners:

  1. Connected Visor
  2. Digital Stethoscope AI
  3. Ecofill – Reuse and Refill Bottles on This Vending Machine
  4. Intangible Surface
  5. Global Scale Remote Health Monitor
  6. Esp8266 Shop Door Assistant
  7. Selfcheck Contactless Accurate Body Thermometer
  8. Hands-Free Soap, Water and Paper Towel Dispenser
  9. Project Theia
  10. P3psi, a Web-Driven COVID-19 Carrier Robot (Community Choice Award)

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Nixon Kanali

Tech journalist based in Nairobi. I write about tech, business and African startups. Founder and Editor For TechTrendsKE. Send tips to nkanali@techtrendske.co.ke.

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