Every year, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers hosts a competition for individuals and organizations taking physical products to market that will have a social impact. Applicants for the Innovation Showcase (ISHOW) must have an existing prototype and be interested in receiving financing, technical support, and access to industry networks to assist in taking their product to market. For the last five years, we’ve had the honor of having our co-founder Ben Wald serve as a judge for the competition.
This year’s finalists were a fresh crop of innovative IoT companies looking to impact the world in a positive way. The three teams of social entrepreneurs – including a second-time finalist – were selected among eight finalists from across the Americas who vied for a share of $30,000 in seed grants and technical support to help bring their hardware-powered innovations to market.
Each winner also will receive an opportunity to participate in the ISHOW Bootcamp in New York City in October 2019, where they’ll join six other regional winners of competitions held in India and Kenya.
This year, ASME received 160 applications for ISHOW. The finalists endured a full day of rigorous judging as they presented the engineering design attributes of their prototypes and outlined their plans for manufacturing, marketing, and financing.
The 2019 regional grand prize-winning designs tackled the challenges of drinking water safety, chicken egg incubation, and fish farming for underserved populations. Meet the creators of the winning designs, which incorporate clean energy and sustainable materials while maintaining affordability for end customers.
Caminos de Agua
Not-for-profit Caminos de Agua of San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico, for “Aguadapt” – a low-cost, family-sized water filtration system that removes organic chemicals and 99.9999% of pathogens, and can be quickly installed in all common containers to provide safe drinking water for at least three years.
Kukua Labs of San Francisco, Calif., U.S., for “Kukua” – an affordable, at-home chicken egg incubator that reduces volatility for the roughly 70% of families in Tanzania who raise chickens for supplemental income and nutrition. The energy-efficient appliance uses low wattage, making it compatible with local residential solar power systems while helping to offset system cost.
Second time finalist WETech of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, for “WERLWind” – a windpowered pond aeration system to help the more than 20 million fish farmers in the AsiaPacific region who rely on small-scale aquaculture for food security and income, but whose yields are less than industrial ponds due to low dissolved oxygen levels in the water. Based on feedback from last year’s ISHOW USA judges, the team made improvements to its manufacturing and business plans to secure a comeback win.
ASME’s panel of judges includes a group of successful entrepreneurs, academics, engineers, and founders of venture-funded startup companies including ATA Engineering, Catapult Design, Stanford University, and Very. The panel was most impressed by the winners’ design innovations and their abilities to scale their products to market.
“We are proud to offer a forum for engineering problem-solving that truly improves lives,” said ASME Executive Director/CEO Tom Costabile. “We are continually impressed by the creative talent of ASME ISHOW participants and their passion for helping underserved communities around the world.”
In addition to the three grand prize winners, Noble Thermodynamic Systems, Inc.’s “Argon Power Cycle” was declared “fan favorite” and awarded a $1,000 cash prize for receiving the most votes cast via social media. Their innovation is a zero-emission, flexible, and efficient power generation system that retrofits onto currently operating internal combustion engines while increasing their efficiency up to 10% and capturing 100% of the generated carbon dioxide. The fan-favorite prize is made possible and in memory of Byron G. Schieber Jr. M.S., P.E., Professor Emeritus of Queensborough Community College of The City University of New York and Ruth L. Schieber.
“ASME congratulates and thanks all ISHOW winners and finalists for serving as catalysts of progress and social good,” Costabile said. “Through their determination to innovate and disrupt the status quo, they are helping to improve the quality of life for people in need and inspiring others to think about what’s possible.”