Big Ideas Teams Recognized as “2017 World Changing Ideas” by Fast Company

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By Sarah Bernardo

fast company logoFast Company, the world’s leading progressive business media brand, today recognized four teams from the Big Ideas Contest with “2017 World Changing Ideas Awards.” The company’s Co.Exist branch launched the prestigious awards competition in 2016 to recognize ingenuity in social entrepreneurship.

A judging panel of 25 prominent entrepreneurs, authors, designers, and venture capitalists assessed over 1,000 entries to select 12 winners and 192 finalists. The Big Ideas teams included one winner and three finalists, and were among an impressive group that included organizations such as Microsoft, Etsy, the World Food Programme,, and Ford Motor Company.

The current and past Big Ideas teams selected as “World Changing Ideas” (listed below) include a diverse range of projects focused on improving disaster response, accessing to safe drinking water, combating recidivism and developing innovative assistive technologies.

Information for Action
Winner: Apps Category
Information for Action (IFA) is​ dedicated to social change powered by citizens and technology. IFA deployed a user-centered design strategy to launch the first-ever browser extension and web application that links news to action. The application allows quicker engagement when a natural disaster strikes. Community organizations can post actions to recruit volunteers and advocate for their work, then individuals can immediately sign up to hand out meals to victims, distribute supplies, and help people find shelter. (2017 Big Ideas Current Finalist, Information Technology for Society)

Drinkwell – SHRI Community Sanitation Facilities
Finalist: Developing World Technology Category
SHRI fights alongside communities to end open defecation as a key step in an ongoing struggle for health equity and social and economic justice.  SHRI’s water filtration system is installed through a partnership with DrinkWell Systems, a Kolkata-based company. It is WHO certified and removes arsenic, flouride, iron, and bacteria from water, making it safe to drink. Water is sold to customers for $0.008 per liter. (2016 Big Ideas Winner, Global Health)

FITE Film — From Incarceration to Education
Finalist: Photography and Visualization Category
FITE Film is an in-depth documentary that delves into the stories of four formerly incarcerated students at UC Berkeley. The aim is to combat high rates of recidivism through the production and distribution of a documentary film that will be screened in prison and youth detention facilities. Shot and filmed specifically with an audience of the currently incarcerated in mind, it will engage and guide the viewer, directly connecting him or her to beneficial programs with the aid of a resources database. (2016 Big Ideas Winner, Art & Social Change)

Finalist: Students Category
WheelSense is an open-source, modular, adaptable, add-on system for wheelchairs that provides spatial awareness for visually impaired and movement-restricted users to prevent obstacles and ease their navigation. This allows users to maintain complete control of the wheelchair by compensating for any visual/spatial impairments, making independent travel more realistic. (2017 Big Ideas Current Finalist, Hardware for Good)

About the Big Ideas Contest: Big Ideas is a year-long, annual student innovation contest that provides funding, support, and inspration to interdisciplinary teams of undergraduate and graduate students who have creative solutions to address pressing social challenges. The Big Ideas program is managed by the Blum Center for Developing Economies, an interdisciplinary center established in 2006 at UC Berkeley to improve global well-being by developing innovative technologies and systems, and by inspiring a new generation of changemakers.

About Fast Company: Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, leadership, world changing ideas, and design. Written for, by, and about the most progressive business leaders, Fast Company inspires readers to think beyond traditional boundaries, lead conversations, and create the future of business.