Celebrating 10 years of rewarding innovation in water, sanitation and waste management

Since 2009, the IDB-FEMSA Award, which we promote together with the Inter-American Development Bank, has shown that the biggest challenges produce the most innovative solutions. Its goal is to bolster entrepreneurships, products, initiatives or services that are creative and innovative and have positive, provable results and impacts in the sectors of water, sanitation and waste management.

A few days ago, the IDB-FEMSA Award 2019 recognized the most promising social and technological innovations of Latin America and the Caribbean. Solutions from Ecuador, Brazil, Mexico and Chile were noted as the most innovative of the region.

In the tenth edition the winner was Yakupura, an innovation from Ecuador that produces a water filter made of activated carbon originated from coconut shell. Yakupura received an endowment of US$15,000 for winning the first place. It is a domestic filter that easily adapts to the kitchen faucet. It is certified to remove chlorine, pesticides, removes bad taste and smell and alkalinizes water.

IDB-FEMSA Prize innovation water sanitation waste management Yakupura

Carolina Placencia, Yakupura representative, was in charge of presenting her solution in the final round of the Award, which consisted of presentations from the six finalists, who spoke on their innovations in the “pitch by fire” format, in which they had to highlight the most innovative characteristics and their social impact in two minutes, as well as a five minute round of questions and answers in front of the jury.

The finale of the Award took place as part of the celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the IDB in Panama. In 2019, the IDB-FEMSA Award celebrated 10 years of looking for the most innovative solutions in water, sanitation and waste management. For that reason, this year we decided to bring together the winners of previous editions, who took part in the All Stars category and competed for a single prize of US$15,000.

Acualight, from Mexico, took the second place with an endowment of US$10,000. It is an innovative system, unique in the world, economic and easy to install, that works to avoid the waste of water in the shower. The system redirects the cold water that falls as we wait for hot water to a tank with an alternate pipe and sensor.

IDB-FEMSA Prize innovation water sanitation waste management Acualight

The third place, with US$5,000, went to FreshWater Solutions, a technology that allows for the generation of purified water from air, through a system that captures humidity from the environment, accelerating the natural water cycle, obtaining between 5 and 28 liters of quality water daily to drink or cook at a fair price.

IDB-FEMSA Prize innovation water sanitation waste management FreshWater

The finalists, chosen among more than 60 proposals received in the initial round of the Award, participated in the final round as part of the international conference “Water for the present and the future: water security in Latin America and the Caribbean” (Agua para el presente y el futuro: seguridad hídrica en América Latina y el Caribe), held in Panama City.

Also finalists for the Award in the regular category were Alejandra Rivera, representing Sumando Impactos from El Salvador, Ana Paula Mejorada, from México, representing Escuelas de lluvia, and Fernando Silva, from Brazil, representing PWTECH.

Ten years rewarding innovation

The IDB-FEMSA Prize celebrated ten years of fostering innovations that have translated to viable, effective solutions that improve lives all across Latin America and the Caribbean. For that reason, along with the regular category, we made an additional call for proposals among the winners of the editions 2009 to 2018, who had the opportunity to present how their proposals have evolved and to participate for a single prize in the All Stars category.

Eco Panplas, from Brazil and represented by Felipe Cardoso, took home the US$15,000 prize for its technological solution that decontaminates and recycles lubricating oil plastic containers in a way that is respectful to the environment: without the use of water and without creating waste. All of the residual oil is recovered and recycled through refining, eliminating the environmental risk.

IDB-FEMSA Prize innovation water sanitation waste management EcoPanPlas

In the All Stars category, José Luis Ortiz, representing Cplantae from Mexico, and Martín Guimaraens, from Uruguay residing in Chile and representing Smart Wells, also participated.

The jury was made up by Mariano Montero, Director of FEMSA Foundation; Verónica Zavalarepresentative of the IDB in Panama; José Agustín Aguerre, Manager of Infrastructure sector at IDB; Luz Amalia González, Vice Director of the National Water and Sewage Institute of Panama (IDAAN); and Miroslava Morán, Program Coordinator of the National Water Councul (CONAGUA) of Panama.

As part of the final stage of the Award, the nine finalists took part in a preparation and innovation workshop in Panama, which included a field visit to the wastewater treatment plant in Panama City.

The IDB-FEMSA Award will continue to be granted to the most innovative solutions that improve lives in Latin America and the Caribbean. We will announces the call for proposals for the 2020 edition in the second quarter of the next year.