How do you help countries innovate?

Posted on behalf of Manisha Shah.

“How do you help countries innovate?” That was a tweet I saw yesterday from the Grameen Foundation (@GrameenFdn). My answer: The Intel Global Challengeat UC Berkeley where student entrepreneurs from around the world compete and develop lifelong innovation skills. These teams identify real world problems, develop technology solutions to them and then create business plans for taking those solutions to market.

Last night we had the opportunity to recognize the amazing innovations from 28 teams from 20 countries that participated in this year’s competition. This year, the finalist teams presented business plans using groundbreaking technologies in such fields as healthcare, technology, energy conservation and disaster management. These plans included helping people with disabilities control a computer with brainwaves, a coconut-based packaging alternative, and an advanced fire protection and detection system.

The winning team Gaitu (Forward) won $50,000 in prize money from the Intel Foundation for creating a one-stop image processing platform, which matches Chinese consumers with designers who add special affects, provide image-sharing services, and turn edited photos into art or merchandise.

Second place and $20,000 was awarded to Maxygen-mobile DNA of Russia for inventing a low-cost, portable DNA test solution that can be used at the point of care to quickly identify thousands of infectious diseases, genetic predispositions and hereditary conditions.

The $10,000 third place prize went to NanoDiagXof Egypt, who used gold nanoparticles to develop a virus test that can detect Hepatitis C in less than an hour, and at one-tenth the cost of current commercial tests. In addition, three special awards of $5,000 were given for Social Innovation to team Next Drop, for Emerging Impact to aQuainnova and the Young Innovator to BUCKY ‘o’ZUN.

As all of the teams return to their countries this weekend, they will take what they’ve learned about innovation through the Intel Global Challenge with them. And you have a chance to learn about their innovations and help choose the winner of the final award, People’s Choice. So go vote at www.inspiredbyeducation.com/vote

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