Innovative Solution for Clean Water

Social entrepreneurs aim to solve social problems using entrepreneurial principles. Knorr-Bremse Global Care sponsored a special €20,000 prize in the Siemens Stiftung’s empowering people. Awards.

Worldwide, over 800 million people lack access to safe and clean drinking water. And even when water is available, it is often contaminated or polluted. Water can be purified in several different ways, for example by adding chemicals, filtering or simply boiling it. But all of these solutions have their drawbacks. In many parts of the world, people cannot afford chlorine tablets or filters, while boiling can require large quantities of firewood.

The Siemens Stiftung established the empowering people. Network as a platform for finding low-tech solutions to social problems like this. The network provides its members with online training, expert advice and local workshops. In addition, it organizes regular awards for the best solutions in the fields of energy, food & agriculture, waste management, healthcare, mobility & infrastructure, financial technology and education & training.

This year, Knorr-Bremse Global Care participated in the awards by sponsoring a special €20,000 prize for the best WASH solution.

A total of over 800 entries were received for this year’s competition, including just under 100 for the WASH award. Following a systematic selection process and interviews with the competing organizations, eleven finalists were invited to the award ceremony in Cairo. The criteria used to assess entries were innovation, business model & sustainability and teamwork. All the Cairo finalists had booths where they presented themselves to the international jury. After the finalists had pitched their business models, the jury selected the three main winners plus the winner of the Special Award.

The Special Award for the best WASH solution was presented to Autarcon GmbH by jury member and Deputy Chair of the Executive Board of Knorr-Bremse Global Care, Christoph Günter. The SuMeWa|System uses anodic oxidation from salts that occur naturally in water to produce clean drinking water without any added chemicals or filters. This low-maintenance system involves no moving parts, making it particularly suitable for remote areas in developing countries.

As well as installing the system, Autarcon also trains members of the local community to maintain it, so they can keep it running for many years to come. “It was the innovative solution of purifying water through a chemical reaction using only the naturally occurring salts that swung the jury. But we were also impressed by the entire package, from the business case and sustainability criteria to the presentation”, says Christoph Günter.

The €50,000 first prize went to SOLshare’s SOLbox. This allows households in Bangladesh to generate their own electricity and sell any surplus to their neighbors, creating a decentralized power infrastructure that supplies affordable electricity to local communities.

The winner of the €30,000 second prize was Nonspec’s Adjustable Prosthetic Pylon – a prosthetic limb with a simple screw mechanism for adjusting its height. Nonspec has invented a prosthetic limb with a simple screw mechanism for adjusting its height. It provides children in particular with a cheap alternative to conventional prosthetic limbs – they no longer need to have a new one made every time they grow a few inches.

The €20,000 third prize was awarded to Mind Rockets Inc. for developing an avatar that translates the text of Web pages or digital documents into sign language. This technology makes it easier for the deaf and hard of hearing to access the digital world.

“The award ceremony was a great success and took place in a very positive atmosphere – the finalists really put heart and soul into presenting their solutions. The winners have developed impressive local solutions with huge potential to transform the lives of people in developing countries all over the world”, said Siemens Stiftung Managing Director Rolf Huber after the event.


Knorr-Bremse Global Care e. V. Knorr-Bremse Global Care e. V.


empowering people. Network by Siemens Stiftung

Further information on the other finalists is available at: