McKinsey Announces Social Innovation Contest Winners

The Internet has spoken, and McKinsey has found the most powerful social innovators in the world. From rats doubling as doctors to ingenious ways to save newborn babies, see the projects that garnered the most votes.

Last week, we wrote about McKinsey’s social innovation contest. Though the consultancy is full of business solutions, it needed some help to identify the best solutions to the world’s environmental, health, and energy problems (to name a few). So it offered a chance for users to submit their projects in exchange for a chance to get some publicity and a chance to meet with McKinsey. About 150 nonprofits, community groups, and entrepreneurs submitted entries. Then an expert panel narrowed the contenders to an 11-idea shortlist. Then the public got to vote. And, now the winners have been announced!

The winner is Embrace Global, a super-low-cost incubator for newborn infants. The product consists of a sleeping bag, a heater, and a pouch of a "phase-change material"—which is heated and then slipped into the bag to keep babies warm. The idea is to save some of the 4 million newborns who die in the first month of their lives.

In second place comes APOPO, a Tanzania-based social enterprise that trains rats to sniff out tuberculosis in mucus.

And, in third, is the ridiculously ingenious Soccket, a soccer ball that doubles as a mini-generator for homes without access to electricity. Inside the ball is a mechanism for capturing kinetic energy, which families access by plugging in an LED lamp, or other low-power appliance.

Finally, McKinsey also awarded a "fan’s favorite" prize to IRIS—an aid allowing visually impaired children to appreciate colors.

The 11 shortlisted innovators received about 5,000 votes in total. The winners get copious publicity on McKinsey’s website, write-ups on Huffington Post, and the chance to take part in a "networking reception" in New York City. Luckily, they’re already doing good things, without needing any help from the networking reception. Hopefully, this added publicity pushes them further into the spotlight.

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  • Andreas Buechel

    i have been following all kind of kinetic energy harvesting energy devices and have written up a concept what involves several of this movement to electricity mechanisms into an innovative game/learn/create digitally assisted environment. the technology being applied with the sOccket hopefully can be applied in smaller balls so it too can be used indoors or ... as i imagined it in my concept, used inside a portable inflatable / set up with telescope poles dome. this tech together with other push pull punch cycle jump etc. mechanism would allow the user to move his/her body within the dome. either in a game like or edutainment learning virtual reality or a creative editing program or or or ... what would be projected onto the walls of the dome. the kinetically generated energy would be used to power the projectors and the processor of the system, probably also a kinetic like motion capture camera ... or an alternative input method like the keyglove from jeff rowberg or the eyeboard from Luis Cruz.... even a kind of camerafree mobile motion capture input method seems possible as a replacement for the movement measuring camera. such a camerafree mobile motion capture input method could eventually become a reality with 3d spatial locating rfid tags ... hundreds of little senders in little textile bands ... like lightweight rings worn around the fingers ... and shirts and trousers ...updating their position many times in a second. in such a camerafree setting, the dome itself could also be replaced with a lightweight head up display ...preferably one with electronic ink or mirasol like tiny displays beeing easy on the eyes and allowing to be adjusted in transparency or not forcing a full immersion by also allowing the vision to see the reality beside the display. color and video capability with that bioplastic lightweight "glasses" would be ideal. and here now comes the outdoor playing factor again fully into view ... as the user is only partially immersed with these "glasses" and input is freed from being tied to keyboard or mouse but can be defined to any movement, momentarily adjusted to the preferred movement ... a possible use for sOccket tech could be a ball i throw against a concrete wall and in the glasses i see every time it hits the wall a colour brush being made ... i define then what brush it shall be... a fine one or a bold one, a spray one or a certain patterned one ... same with music ... if i throw the ball onto upper right section of the wall a higher note is being processed into my earphones or wirelessly connected minispeakers on the floor ... and by doing this throwing, i recharge both my body and the battery within the ball what later can be used to juice up my smartphone what serves as the processing unit for both dynamic position signal processing as delivering the output stream onto the "glasses" ... mmmh... but i made a thinking mistake here ... as to recognise the position and impact force with what the ball meets the concrete wall, there must be some sensors and senders too being integrated into the little ball, or alternativly the "glasses" would have to be equipped with a camera. 
    on a other note would i like to talk about how i got this idea yesterday  (posted a comment on the facebook page of sOccket ). how this invention eventually  could be connected to the wetopia facebook game. what i wrote:it is amazing what you have achieved yet ...congratulations ... might i add some thoughts as how to reach a bigger audience ? i am recently playing the wetopia facebook game where one does support donations to charities just by playing online ... within the game is also a soccer stadium one can build after one has progressed some levels ... what if sOccket for example could find a sponsor what wanted to have its logo being displayed at this soccer stadium within wetopia ... and for every user building such a stadium ... the sponsor donates a certain amount towards a sOccket energy generator being donated to a family in need of it ... sport gear manufacturers ... commercial football teams in europe ... might be possible sponsors ... i have not yet seen this kind of sponsoring within wetopia... but i guess they could be open for that kind of partnership ... wetopia has 150 000 users at the moment ... to see an example for a similar engagement of a commercial brand within a facebook game ... visit trash tycoon here on facebook ... they have got kraft foods as sponsor