EU challenges makers to build tech for good, with €5m in prizes

30 Nov 2017

Red Cross distributing aid. Image: Nice_Media_PRODUCTION/Shutterstock

As part of a number of new funding announcements, the EU is calling on Europe’s makers to take part in a €5m competition to build ‘tech for good’.

Many makers out there are interested in putting their technical skills to good use, and now there’s a multimillion-euro prize to do exactly that.

Launched by the European Commission (EC), the prize for Affordable High-Tech for Humanitarian Aid will reward the best, proven, cost-effective, tech-based solutions for humanitarian aid.

With a total funding amount of €5m, the prize will be divided into five different categories: shelter and related assistance; water, hygiene and sanitation; energy; health and medical care; and a final ‘open’ category.

Some of the technologies that the EC is looking to see utilised include nanotechnologies, advanced materials and 3D printing, but anything that aids in the effort of ‘tech for good’ is encouraged.

Christos Stylianides, the EC’s commissioner for humanitarian aid and crisis management, said: “The EU is not just the world’s biggest donor of humanitarian aid, we also have to ensure that we provide the best-quality response to people in critical situations.

“Creative tech and innovative tools could make a huge difference in the future when it comes to crisis response, including aid delivery in remote areas.”

Growing tech for good movement

There have been many efforts to use the latest technologies to advance the welfare of the most vulnerable in societies, particularly in the area of blockchain.

Irish start-up Aid:Tech is one example that is using the distributed ledger technology to give those staying in refugee camps a digital identity, allowing them direct control over how their aid gets to them.

The company has already begun working with the UN and the International Red Cross to distribute vouchers that contain a unique ID for one person, and can be ‘topped up’ with aid used for money, food etc.

The contest is open to individuals, groups, organisations and companies, and there is plenty of time to start working on solutions as the deadline for submission is not until 15 January 2020.

Red Cross distributing aid. Image: Nice_Media_PRODUCTION/Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic