On the final day of UNLEASH, the energy was palpable. Not because it was the end of the week-long innovation lab, that brought 1,200 young talents and facilitators to work on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but because this was the culmination and celebration of all their hard work.
The ceremony started with traditional Chinese dance and was followed by speeches from distinguished guests and partners who handed out awards in four categories: Most Impact Potential, Most Promising Partnership, Most Disruptive Technology, and Most Innovative.
Flemming Besenbacher, chairman of UNLEASH, the Carlsberg Group, and the Carlsberg Foundation, said that the energy, dedication, and creativity the talents put into their solutions in the past week have certainly lived up to his expectation.
“UNLEASH is committed to making a better and more sustainable world. After tonight’s ceremony, I believe you will bring the spirit of problem-solving and cooperation to all aspects of work and life,” said Besenbacher.
Liu Hongpeng, director of the energy division of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, said that the SDGs have been in place for four years. “The strong combination of Shenzhen and UNLEASH has enabled us to know great potential can be unleashed through such an event,” he said.
A congratulatory video from U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres was also played at the ceremony. Guterres recognized the efforts of the global youths in pushing the SDGs. “We need strong effective partnerships such as yours, and we need to harness the benefits of new technologies for the common good,” Guterres said.
Shenzhen Mayor Chen Rugui said the fact that UNLEASH was held in Shenzhen for the first time shows the recognition of China’s promotion and implementation of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, as well as Shenzhen’s achievements in sustainable development.
Meng Qinghai, vice president and executive secretary of China Association for Science and Technology, hopes that all young talents can build up friendship, strengthen cooperation and jointly create a bright future for human development.
Two Nobel Prize laureates, namely Muhammad Yunus and Leymah Gbowee, were received with hearty rounds of applause from the audience for sharing their stories and actions in promoting the SDGs.
Four innovative and goal-oriented projects were awarded at the ceremony, with the Most Promising Partnership Solution Award, Most Disruptive Technology Award, Most Innovative Award and Most Scalable Solution Award going to KINDS, Chloe Assist, Cryptics and Waste Awayers, respectively. The winners also got a chance to pitch their projects in front of all the attendees.
UNLEASH 2019 was hosted by China Association for Science and Technology and the Shenzhen Municipal People’s Government and organized by Shenzhen Industrial Design Profession Association.
The four winners:
AFTER the weeklong UNLEASH innovation process, the solutions for the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of four teams stood out from a total of 222 teams composed of over 1,000 talents from over 160 countries and regions.
Most Promising Partnership:
Team KINDS received the Most Promising Partnership Solution Award, Team CHLOE ASSIST received the Most Disruptive Technology Solution Award, Team CRYPTICS received the Most Innovative Solution Award and Team WASTE AWAYERS received the Most Scalable Solution Award at the closing ceremony of UNLEASH 2019 held at Shenzhen Concert Hall yesterday.
Team KINDS received the Most Promising Partnership award, under the theme of Sustainable Cities and Communities, targeted the topic of organic waste in Kenya and how it is impacting not only the environment but also the living circumstances of thousands of Kenyans.
The team consists of five members, namely Nzambi Matee from Kenya, Sowmya Lakshminarayanan from India, Izman Suhail from the Maldives, Didoney Vilhete from Sao Tome and Principe, and Kerry Lim from France.
“Right now we have the biggest dumpsite in Nairobi. This is where all the waste generated in Nairobi City is dumped. Due to this dumpsite, thousands of people come here every day to earn a living by sorting organic and inorganic waste. This dumpsite is not only a source of income for them but also a health risk for them. Because of this dumpsite, this area is offered as affordable housing because no one wants to live there,” Matee told the Shenzhen Daily.
The solution proposed by the team is a social enterprise offering waste segregation services at the source to divert organic waste away from the landfill and use it to produce alternative, affordable building materials, such as bricks and panels. They will relocate dump workers to the workplace to offer a safe environment, fair income, and opportunities to upgrade their slums.
For Matee, the most unforgettable moment of UNLEASH is working with the team. “I am the only one who is a local from Kenya. The others are foreigners and they asked me things that made me see my hometown, where I have lived for more than 20 years, from a different perspective.”
Most Scalable Solution:
Team WASTE AWAYERS, under the theme of Responsible Consumption and Production, came up with a better way of preserving fish.
The team is made up of six members, namely Friedrick Hogdal from Denmark, Nimpaye Didier from Burundi, Pamela Alcocer and Ariela Gildeson from Mexico, and Amaka Chukwueme and Yusuf Bilesanmi from Nigeria.
According to Bilesanmi, 25 billion tons of fish go to waste every year and fish is very important because it makes up about 40 percent of the protein in the world. “So it is an important topic for us and what we looked into was how you preserve fish waste,” Bilesanmi said.
What concerned the team most was finding a cost-effective way to preserve the fish, and finally, they came up with the solution: preserving the fish with the help of enzymatic action. In this way, bacterial growth could be inhibited and the fish could be sold on the market before the meat turns bad.
“We never expected that we would win the prize, but we wanted something that’s applicable and scalable. We actually cried when we were told [about the award] because we didn’t expect it and it’s kind of helping the team grow stronger,” said Bilesanmi.
Most Disruptive Technology:
Team CHLOE ASSIST, under the theme of Responsible Consumption and Production, focused on extending the utilization and lifecycle of women’s clothes.
The team consists of five members, namely Kathrine Reippurt Nielsen from Denmark, Richard Johnson from the U.K., Bianca Rangecroft from South Africa, Cristina Echenagusia from Spain and Lavanya Garg from India.
“What we have been particularly looking at is the impulsive buying behavior among women. So the need to go out and buy new clothes starts abusing what they really have in their wardrobe,” said Nielsen.
Team CHLOE ASSIST receives the Most Disruptive Technology Solution Award at yesterday’s closing ceremony.
“Currently in the U.K., where I am from, women use garments on average only seven times. So we just saw huge potential that we could increase the use of those clothes,” said Johnson.
Kathrine Reippurt Nielsen from Denmark (L) and Richard Johnson from the U.K., who are members of the team CHOLE ASSIST speaks during an interview.
To realize the goal, the team put forward the solution of using an AI-powered digital stylist, which enables women to find combinations they love from their existing clothes rather than buying a new garment.
“Crucial to that is getting those clothes and turning them into a digital wardrobe. So we have come up with a couple of innovative solutions of how to do it,” said Johnson during an exclusive interview with the Shenzhen Daily.
Participating in the 2019 UNELASH Innovation Lab is an amazing experience for the team. “We didn’t do it for the award but it definitely made the whole experience very memorable,” said Johnson. For Nielsen, receiving an award confirms that they do have something that’s worth pursuing.
Team CRYPTICS, under the theme of Good Health and Well-Being, focused on innovating products or equipment that can improve access to medicines and health care for under-served populations around the world.
The team consists of five members, namely Yusuf Shittu from Nigeria, Dattatreya Sitaram from India, Zhao Chenchen from China, Talia Rose from Australia and Collins Santhanasamy from Malaysia.
“As a medical doctor in Nigeria, I have experienced a lot of cases where children die in the very first month of their life. This is something that I found very perplexing because there are simple and effective interventions that can actually make a difference and save a lot of lives,” said Shittu.
Drawing from the previous experience of Shittu, the team decided to focus on the improvisation of a device called Bubble CPAP, which functions as an oxygen delivery system that helps babies breathe better and thus increases their chances of survival when they have trouble breathing at birth. It is called Neonatal Asphyxia in medical terms.
“The original device costs up to US$6,000, and the low-cost version costs US$400 and requires a stable form of electricity that many health-care centers do not have access to. But we are able to build a solution that can reduce the cost to as low as US$40 and can achieve almost the same success rate,” said Shittu.