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Sharing how Innovation Prizes can be used as a tool for developing sustainable WASH services

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Ideas to Impact recently hosted a side-event at WEDC to share how innovation prizes can be used for developing sustainable WASH services. July 2017 saw the 40th WEDC international conference hosted at Loughborough University, with over 400 WASH, Engineering and development experts and practitioners.

Ideas to Impact, WEDC presentation, July 2017
Ideas to Impact, WEDC presentation, July 2017

With 30 participants from the water and engineering sector, ranging from development practitioners, students and academics, Ideas to Impact presented how prizes can be used for tackling development challenges. Two of the Ideas to Impact prizes, The Dreampipe Challenge and the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana, shared challenges, prize design processes and the results so far from each of the prizes.

The Dreampipe Challenge now has 10 business plans for non-revenue water reduction solutions in developing countries, to help tackle water lost through leakage, theft, illegal connections, that will now go on to compete in the implementation phase of the prize. Whilst the Sanitation Challenge for Ghana is a prize that is making the local authorities of Ghana sit up and pay attention to the issue of sanitation in Ghana – the prize has incentivised 48 (MMDA’s) to submit liquid-waste management strategies, with 21 MMDA’s winning a monetary or honorary award. 

An enthusiastic question and answer session with the workshop participants showed a real appetite for learning more about innovation prizes, and how they can be used in development. Interesting and critical questions were raised by participants including:

  • issues of risk, for solvers and for funder; 
  • how you deal with intellectual property rights for prize solutions; 
  • how you report and demonstrate impact on beneficiaries of the prizes; 
  • the need for increased information sharing and learning between the growing number of innovations initiatives in the development sector 

These are all questions that Ideas to Impact continue to explore through the implementation and evaluation of the five prizes – follow Ideas to Impact learning here…

The participants all spent time design their own innovation prizes, with some great ideas of how a prize could be used to tackle solid-waste management in Ghana, or poor water quality in Afghanistan. 

Innovation prize workshop
WEDC side-event, innovation prize workshop, July 2017


To learn more about innovation prizes for WASH read our recent article in Practical Action’s Waterlines Journal:


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