RISE (Real Impact on Society and Environment) is U21’s newest student opportunity, which showcases student-led projects based on an aspect of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Students from 16 U21 Universities competed for the RISE Awards for Impact, Innovation, and Potential, offering winning teams a bespoke package of international exposure and a global network of expert supporters with a minimum value of $2000 per team.
A panel of judges from the world of social entrepreneurship and innovation had the unenviable task of choosing the best teams from a selection of inspirational video pitches. Mac Montana, Financial Analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, RISE Judge and Winner of U21 PwC Innovation Challenge 2018/19 said, ‘I was impressed with the quality and creativity in the submissions. Watching these pitch videos is enough to cement anyone's faith in the future of humanity!’
Professor Bairbre Redmond, Provost of U21 said, ‘This first group of U21 RISE projects are truly inspiring and demonstrate both the ingenuity and the depth of concern that students in U21 universities have in making the world a better place. I loved watching these videos and seeing what is happening in social enterprise and innovation around the world. My congratulations to all who took part and we look forward to supporting them to reach their goals.'
Congratulations to our exceptional winning projects which are as follows:
Most Innovative: Joint winners:
Connecting students and academic institutions in America with farming communities in Uganda and Liberia Cedric Nwafor and Mandela Jones, University of Maryland
Cedric Nwafor from the Roots team said, ‘Thank you so much for this incredible recognition for ROOTS Africa. Over the next year, we will be expanding to other academic institutions in Africa and the US.’
Medical technology innovation that enables people with reduced fine motor skills to complete everyday tasks Lianna Genovese, McMaster University
On hearing the good news, Lianna, inventor of Guided Hands said ‘This is the best news I have ever woken up to! I am extremely grateful to have even been recognized for this competition let alone winning the award for Most Innovative...I am very excited to work with U21'
Most Potential: Solar4Schools
Bringing solar power to schools in Kenya
Wenjing Yang, Lund University
Wenjing Yang from the Solar4Schools team said, ‘For the team, winning the RISE Most Potential award was very exciting. Even more so, was the timing of it. After validating the product and with the first prototype and pilot on the ground, we are currently working on MVP2.0 and its new design. We plan to officially launch the product in June 2020 and helps schools looking for affordable and clean energy solution in developing settings.’
Most Impact: Foodprint
Selling otherwise-wasted food at low prices to those experiencing food poverty Annie Clayton and Luke Davis, University of Nottingham
Chris Hyland Director of Foodprint said, "Winning this prize is a huge honour, and reflects the enormous amount of work and passion put in by Foodprint members past and present, our amazing volunteers, local community partners and our customers. We're really excited to scale our environmental and social impact even further in 2020. We are dramatically increasing the amount of food we save from landfill, and are soon to launch 'Foodprint on Wheels' to truly make high-quality affordable food accessible to all. We're sure RISE's support will be invaluable in helping make it a success!"
You can see all of our inspirational entries here.
U21 is now looking for pledges of advice, mentoring or connections in order to help these projects to reach their goals. 66 pledges of support have been made so far, creating exciting opportunities for the groups to continue their inspirational work. Could you get involved by offering mentoring, advice or connections? Make a pledge at universitas21.com/rise and help to realise some of the UNSDGs.
List of Judges:
Professor Bairbre Redmond, Provost of Universitas 21 Dr Endrit Kromidha, Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, University of Birmingham Erica Estrada-Liou, Director of Curriculum & Experiential Learning at University of Maryland Academy for Innovation & Entrepreneurship Mac Montana, Financial Analyst for the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco, and Winner of U21 PwC Innovation Challenge 2018/19 Caroline Hetherington, Student Experience Manager, Universitas 21
Most Innovative: Roots Africa Cedric Nwafor and Mandela Jones, University of Maryland The Roots Africa initiative connects students and academic institutions in America with farming communities in Uganda and Liberia, sharing technology and expertise to empower the next generation of agricultural innovators. Through both virtual and in-country elements, Roots Africa has also given US students a unique opportunity to understand different regional contexts and make global contributions. The team has already trained over 400 farmers and 200 students in Africa to increase capacity and quality, creating lasting growth and change.
United National Sustainable Development Goal 1: No Poverty; Goal 2: Zero Hunger; Goal 9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure
Most Innovative: Guided Hands Lianna Genovese, McMaster University Guided Hands is a medical technology innovation that enables people with reduced fine motor skills to complete everyday tasks, which would otherwise be impossible, such as writing, painting, and using a tablet. The product offers increased independence, quality of life and improved access to education. The judges were highly impressed with Lianna’s ingenious approach to the challenge. The invention has also captured the imagination of the public, with Lianna receiving numerous pledges of support, from web design in Canada to medical experts in the UK.
United National Sustainable Development Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being; Goal 4: Quality Education
Most Potential: Solar4Schools Bringing solar power to schools in Kenya Wenjing Yang, Lund University Solar4Schools makes solar power affordable for schools in rural Kenyan communities, by developing power systems that not only provide clean off-grid energy, but generate revenue through mobile phone charging stations. With reliable sources of electricity, schools can be open for longer days and offer a better education, whilst also providing an important service to the local community. By creating an income stream from solar power, Solar4Schools has designed a sustainable model which has the potential to improve the lives and education of people in rural or developing settings across the world.
United National Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education; Goal 7: Affordable and Clean Energy
Most Impact: Foodprint Annie Clayton and Luke Davis, University of Nottingham Foodprint is a social supermarket in Nottingham, the UK’s poorest city, selling otherwise-wasted food at low prices to those experiencing food poverty. Building on this income generation, Foodprint also delivers free food to schoolchildren, elderly people, and foodbanks. Foodprint’s two-part model enabled them to start breaking even in 2019, safeguarding the crucial support to vulnerable communities in Nottingham, and supporting their newest innovations: a mobile social supermarket, and an Empowerment Programme to upskill Foodprint volunteers and support them into employment.
United National Sustainable Development Goal 2: Zero Hunger; Goal 13: Climate Action
List of other project entries:
MAP Youth: Building human capital and education equality among Zigongese youth University of Amsterdam
Biodegradable Starch Plastic: Tackling plastic pollution through materials engineering University of Delhi
SDG Awareness Week: an international collaboration for sustainability action U21 Health Sciences Student SDG Group
Team3 Farm: Creating jobs and food security in Eastern Cape University of Johannesburg
Lilypads: Fighting period poverty in Uganda through women-led entrepreneurship The University of Edinburgh
One Step at a Time: enhancing social inclusion for people with disabilities University of Glasgow
The Eczema Eradication Project: Forging international patient-led healthcare communities The University of Hong Kong
Circular Ground: building a circular green economy, turning coffee grounds into coffee cups The University of Queensland
Snap Recycle: increasing local recycling engagement through app-based technology University of Birmingham
Watchtower: Strengthening social connections though peer-to-peer mental health support The University of Auckland
Sustainability Week Switzerland: Giving sustainability a national voice in Swiss HE University of Zurich
Baby Boxes: Fighting infant mortality in Uganda University of Connecticut