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ASME Takes ISHOW to India

Teams of students, engineers and entrepreneurs from Cambodia, Indonesia, and across India competed at the first of three 2015 ASME global showcases for products designed to meet social needs in developing regions.

The ISHOW Global Innovations Showcase was held in the southwestern Indian city of Pune, with similar competitions planned for Washington, DC, and Nairobi, Kenya. The teams are competing for $500,000 in funding, plus coaching and consulting by design engineers, product designers and media specialists.

ISHOW Program Manager Paul Scott addresses Finalists.

The ASME ISHOW focuses on hardware innovations, and teams in Pune presented products in all stages of development: initial design, products undergoing user testing, and products already on the market that are being redesigned to broaden their reach and social value. ASME designed ISHOW to leverage its expertise in mechanical systems and ASME staff leaders say this focus on hardware distinguishes ISHOW from other social innovation showcases, especially those featuring software and information technologies.

“There are unique challenges facing social entrepreneurs with hardware based ventures,” said Noha El-Ghobashy, ASME Managing Director for global development. “Investors tend to shy away from hardware because of the complexities associated with supply chains, with manufacturing, and with getting physical products to end users, especially in the developing world. This takes an ecosystems, and that’s what we’re trying to do with ISHOW. We’re trying to raise awareness and build that ecosystem.”

Imaduddin Majid and Ridwan Wicaksono, chemical engineering students, and partner Syauqy Aziz, all from Jakarta, Indonesia, won the competition in Pune for their work developing water quality monitors for shrimp ponds. Their product, called BlumbangReksa, will transmit data about water chemistry through the cloud, and will provide decision-support to farmers.

Pune winners Ridwan Wicaksono (center) and Imaduddin Majid (right) with Catapult Design’s Noel Wilson.

The pair said the feedback they received in Pune from ISHOW engineering, design and communications experts helped them deliver a winning presentation. “The coaching before our presentation was very important,” said Majid. “The coaches told us to tell the story behind our project.” His partner, Wicaksono, added: “Overnight we took that suggestion and we rearranged our slides. We also used Google to find additional pictures, we put in more data, and we made the presentation clearer and more accessible.”

Each winning team in Pune won $15,000, but Aziz said that the money was not the main benefit. Instead, he said there was tremendous value in relationships and networking opportunities they are building through ISHOW, and that “friendships with the other teams” is especially valuable.

Other winners are experienced engineers. Rajeev Kumar and team partners from Bengaluru (Bangalore) are already selling diagnostic systems for healthcare. They want to extend the reach of this equipment to poor, rural areas, to improve healthcare there.

“Apart from the prize money, I think the connection with ASME is quite useful,” Kumar said after the winners were announced. “And of course, the design review that we are going to participate in tomorrow will be important. What we are hoping to get from the design review is feedback on the product itself. We have a good team of hardware and software engineers, but not really anyone who can advise us on product design. So we are looking to make a world class product, and that is where I think the contribution tomorrow will be very useful.”

Pune winner Rajeev Kumar addresses judges during ISHOW competition.

Kumar was anticipating the interaction with expert coaches assembled by ISHOW. ISHOW program manger Paul Scott explained this feature of the competition:

“The winners will go through a process that we call of winner support, a day’s worth of free consultancy and a design and engineering review, to really drill down into their innovations and look at them from a technical perspective. We’ve put together an excellent team of six technical reviewers, from industry and academia. They’re going to sit down with the innovators that win, giving advice and assistance. We think that’s going to be really valuable for the winners.

The third winner in Pune was Anurag Agarwal. With partners in New Delhi, Agarwal founded New Leaf Dynamic Technologies, to develop an off-grid refrigeration system powered by farm waste and cow dung. The system is called GreenCHILL.

“It really opens up a new set of opportunities for us, Agarwal said. “It is a great achievement for our organization and the work that we have been doing. It will give us access to experts. It will give us access to a network through ASME, it will improve our access to funding and give us [more] credibility.”

Winner Anurag Agarwal (center) receiving design coaching from Catapult’s Marius Rossouw.

Agarwal also spoke of how ISHOW coaching helped make a better presentation. “During one of the talks, P.R. Ganapathy [President of Villgro, an ISHOW partner organization in India] talked about impact as it relates to prosperity, and that really hit me. “ Agarwal said he incorporated into his pitch an explanation of how his refrigeration system would help farmers grow more profitable crops – he cited strawberries instead of potatoes. ‘’The farmers will make better livings. And consumers will have strawberries. And everybody will have smiles on their faces.”

Ganapathy was one of five judges at the ISHOW event. The others were: El-Ghobashy, Dr. Mishra Priyaranjan, principal scientists at Philips; Shyram Rajan, chief technology officer – India, GE Healthcare; Jackie Stenson, CEO, Essmart; and Arun Venkatesan, a consultant who specialized in product development.

Design consulting for winners was provided by Noel Wilson, Marius Rossouw and Karin Carter of Catapult Design. Design engineering consultation was provided by Iana Aranda, of ASME’s Engineering for Global Development program, Priyarajan, Stenson and Venkatesan.

Media consultation was provided by Paul Scott, ISHOW program manager and Petr Spurney, of the ASME Foundation.

Click here for a video about the competition in Pune.

View the USA finalists.

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