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WTN "Social Entrepreneur" Awards
Jamais Cascio, 25 Oct 04

The World Technology Network is an interesting group. We've linked to them a few times -- they're behind the proposed "social X-Prize" idea, and held a huge conference earlier this year on "Leapfrogging the Grid: Distributed Generation in the Developing World." Our own Nicole Boyer was one of the organizers of that event, and she promises to tell us all about it when she gets a chance.

WTN has now announced its 2004 winners of the World Technology Network Awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in categories such as biotechnology, design, energy, ethics, social entrepreneurship and many more. Many of the awards are for projects with a distinctly worldchanging flavor. SciDev.Net, one of our favorite sites for coverage of the intersection of technology and society, has the details:

The social entrepreneur prize — for people who apply technologies to social problems in a sustainable way — was awarded to Brazilian Fabio Luis de Oliveira Rosa, who has spent 20 years developing systems to bring electricity to people in isolated rural areas.

Rosa, the executive director of the Institute for the Development of Natural Energy and Sustainability in Porto Alegre, initially developed a low cost electrical grid for rural areas that went on to supply electricity to one million in Brazil.

"Then, I developed another approach to serve people using solar photovoltaic energy," says Rosa. "It is a completely new concept business approach that can bring electricity to poor people in a completely sustainable approach, without subsidies."

The SciDev.Net article is inspiring, but reading over the details of the various nominees and winners -- 20 categories, with five or more nominees apiece -- is humbling. From biomolecular computers to advanced solar technologies to efforts to develop a rainforest plant DNA bank and more, the work done by these researchers and developers provides ample evidence that another world is, in fact, here.

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