Thirty innovators from around the world have been selected as finalists in the 2016 Rolex Awards for Enterprise.
To mark the 40th anniversary of the programme this year, Rolex decided to present Awards to five Laureates and five Young Laureates. Each winner will receive a Rolex chronometer and funding for their project (Laureates receive 100,000 Swiss francs, and Young Laureates, between 18–30 years old, 50,000 Swiss francs). They will benefit from a worldwide publicity campaign.
The finalists, aged from 23 to 64, were selected by a team of researchers from 2,322 applications from people of 144 nationalities.
Earlier this year, they were flown to Geneva to present their projects to 12 Jury members, eminent scientists, explorers and social entrepreneurs from 10 countries.
The 10 winners will receive their Awards at a ceremony on 15 November 2016 at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles, a landmark known worldwide as home to the Oscars.
Applications for the next series – the 2018 Rolex Awards – will open on 1 December 2016.
Finalists for Laureate Awards
Christopher Ategeka - Uganda
Increase access to healthcare in rural Uganda by using mobile health units equipped with a doctor’s room, a laboratory and a pharmacy,and delivering emergency medical supplies by drones.
Armando Azua - Chile
Explore and study – during the course of 16 expeditions – the biology and geology of Chile’s Atacama Desert and show the public the driest desert on Earth has exceptional life forms and a rich cultural heritage.
Andrew Bastawrous - United Kingdom
Transform eye care in sub-Saharan Africa using a smartphone-based, portable eye-examination system, Peek Vision, to screen thousands of people. Establish a centre of excellence and training for Peek.
Alton Byers - United States
Conduct the first comprehensive physical, environmental and socioeconomic impact survey of Nepal’s 20 most dangerous glacier lakes to alleviate the risks of outburst floods.
Nathalie Cabrol - France/United States
Set up a detector network to record extreme ultraviolet radiation events in the high Andes and determine their effects. This may yield a warning system of UV risk for millions of people in the Andes.
Kerstin Forsberg - Peru
Scale up efforts to protect endangered manta rays in northern Peru by helping fishermen pursue ecotourism as an alternative source of income and through outreach programmes for local communities.
Paul Gardner-Stephen - Australia
Equip mobile phones with software enabling them to form autonomous networks that can be used by aid workers and rescue teams in disaster zones when phone networks fail or do not exist.
Tom Hart - United Kingdom
Scale up a penguin-monitoring network using remote cameras to improve understanding of the Antarctic ecosystem, providing information to combat environmental threats to penguins and other species.
Vreni Häussermann – Chile/Germany
Discover the unknown life at the bottom of Chilean Patagonia’s fjords at three remote locations by combining exploration and science, and creating support for conservation through public outreach.
Leela Hazzah - Egypt/United States
Expand the Lion Guardians programme to critical areas in East Africa where lions and indigenous cultures are declining. Africa’s biggest carnivore, lions are crucial to maintaining ecological balance across many habitats.
Nizar Ibrahim - Morocco/Germany
Protect and reveal Morocco’s rich, under-explored palaeontological heritage by discovering fossil sites and launching a public outreach programme, sparking schoolchildren’s interest in natural history and exploration.
Siva Rajendran - India
Develop a low-cost, high-power battery pack from recycled electric car batteries to power electronic educational devices, such as tablets, in schools in developing countries, beginning with a field trial in Tanzania.
Andreas Raptopoulos - Greece
Establish a permanent drone delivery network for essential medical supplies in Bhutan, where many clinics are inaccessible by road, and develop the use of drones to transport lightweight goods.
Çağan Şekercioğlu - Turkey
Protect two vital but threatened biodiversity hotspots in north-east Turkey by connecting them via the country’s first wildlife corridor, involving local communities. The corridor should foster cross-border conservation initiatives with neighbouring Georgia and Armenia.
Shah Selbe - United States
Speed up responses to environmental threats by developing an open-source software platform that will enable real-time data from any threatened ecosystem worldwide to be collected and analysed.
Conor Walsh - Ireland
Tackle stroke disability and other mobility problems by developing an “exosuit”, a soft robotic suit that enables patients to walk more easily, and monitors, analyses and gradually trains their muscles back into healthy patterns.
Xiaomei Wang – China
Safeguard the cultural heritage of the Miao ethnic minority from one of China’s poorest provinces, Guizhou, and improve the lives of Miao craftswomen by helping them commercialize their traditional handicrafts.
Sonam Wangchuk - India
Remedy severe seasonal water scarcity in the western Himalayas by building artificial glaciers – “ice stupas” shaped like Buddhist monuments – to store water to irrigate and reforest desert land.
Finalists for Young Laureate Awards
Lucrezia Bisignani - Italy
Develop a game application for cheap smartphones to teach illiterate children in sub-Saharan Africa to read and write. The plan is to have 100,000 users in the first year.
Joseph Cook - United Kingdom
Investigate the Greenland ice sheet to discover how immense microbial populations survive in the polar and glacial icecaps, and study their effects on Earth’s vital systems, including climate, and value to humanity.
Oscar Ekponimo - Nigeria
Address food poverty and alleviate hunger in Nigeria through a cloud-based application that monitors supermarket products approaching the end of their shelf life and generates notifications to enable discounted items for consumers and charities.
Tales Gomes - Brazil
Use mobile technologies, including a website and a health diagnostic kit costing less than US$7, to help prevent non-communicable diseases, from cancer to diabetes, in Brazil’s disadvantaged communities.
Christine Keung - United States
End uncontrolled toxic pollution of soil and water in rural north-western China by working with doctors and industry to reduce harmful waste and by empowering women to act as environmental stewards.
Mustafa Naseem - Pakistan
Develop a “water ATM” enabling organizations to measure water quality and access in Pakistan and other countries facing supply crises, thereby ensuring equality of usage and better management of a dwindling resource.
Qin Xiang Ng - Singapore
Use water’s ability to cling to a spider web as a model to develop a new generation of efficient fog-harvesters in regions where there is fog but little rain.
Levit Nudi - Kenya
Save the lives of infants in Kenya and beyond with his simple, affordable warning device to monitor and diagnose babies suffering life-threatening lung infections.
Junto Ohki - Japan
Bridge the gap between the world’s 126 sign languages through a crowd-sourced, online sign-language dictionary, which will be a global platform for all signs, improving communication among hearing-impaired people from different countries.
Anthony Raphael - Australia
Develop and field-test two easy-to-use applicators to diagnose and treat, with microparticle massages, deadly parasitic skin diseases afflicting tens of millions of people, particularly young children, in the developing world.
Sarah Toumi - France/Tunisia
Fight increasing desertification in Tunisia caused by climate change through reforestation and crops suited to low rainfall, providing new income opportunities to rural communities.
Daira Ximena Villagran Chavarro - Colombia
Lay the groundwork for a conservation plan for one of the world’s most biodiverse but threatened regions, Colombia’s Baudó Mountains. Conduct fieldwork, share scientific findings, engage the community and encourage ecotourism.