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Challenge Seeks Simple Medical Waste Incinerator

Used syringes and other medical waste

(alexroma, Pixabay)

4 September 2015. A new challenge on InnoCentive is asking the public for a design of an efficient yet simple incinerator of medical waste generated during humanitarian emergencies. The competition has a total potential payout of $30,000 and a deadline for submissions of 4 November 2015.

InnoCentive in Waltham, Massachusetts conducts open-innovation, crowdsourcing competitions for corporate and organization sponsors, in this case Humanitarian Innovation Fund. Free registration is required to see details of the competition.

Humanitarian Innovation Fund sponsoring the challenge supports organizations seeking to make the delivery of humanitarian aid more effective and cost-efficient. For this competition, the fund is tackling the problem of medical waste that piles up in humanitarian emergencies, such as floods and armed conflicts, particularly in low-resource countries.

Without a means of effectively destroying medical waste, affected populations face more exposure to infectious diseases and fouling of air, ground, and drinking water. In many cases, medical workers in the field during emergencies burn the waste in empty fuel drums, but they rarely work well and can cause problems with pollution. More durable medical waste incinerators can be brought in, but they are often expensive and need skilled staff to set-up and operate.

The sponsors are calling for a medical waste incinerator design that is simple, efficient, and durable. The device should be economical to operate in low-resource regions, easy to transport, and be assembled with local skills and materials. In addition, the incinerator must meet specific fuel and temperature requirements.

InnoCentive calls this type of competition a theoretical challenge requiring a written proposal that fleshes out an idea before it becomes a proven concept. Proposals submitted in a theoretical challenge usually offer detailed descriptions and specifications showing how the ideas would work. Humanitarian Innovation Fund indicates it expects written proposals to run about 10 pages.

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of experts from humanitarian aid organizations such as Oxfam and Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). The sponsor says it plans to award three prizes of $5,000 each to the top ideas generated in the competition. A separate bonus prize of $15,000 will also be awarded to a winning proposal that can be immediately turned into a working prototype device.

Humanitarian Innovation Fund asks competitors receiving awards to grant a non-exclusive license to their intellectual property. Sub-licensing of intellectual property is possible for further development or manufacturing of the solution.

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