TEXT: CRISTINA BISBAL IMAGES: ISTOCK
The 26 semifinalist projects of our Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards have already been selected. Each of the representatives has had a mentoring session to prepare for the task of convincing the jury that their initiative is the one that will most impact on their environment and that their team is the best prepared to drive it forward. To achieve this, they will have a mere ten minutes.
Barely two years have passed since the Fundación MAPFRE Social Innovation Awards were first presented and yet this initiative has already become an essential event for those wishing to participate in a true paradigm shift in the field of innovation, focusing on purely social needs. For all those with an innovative project capable of helping society overcome its difficulties. But also for those companies seeking social initiatives with which to join this movement for change.
And we have now reached the third edition, seeking dynamic ideas and approaches, and disruptive models, which can most likely be transformed into useful solutions for improving mobility and road safety (mobility), health (e-health) and insurance, in other words, the three categories in these – despite their short history – already prestigious Social Innovation Awards. The numerous projects presented demonstrate the success of each of the previous editions, but also the dedicated involvement of these new social entrepreneurs, for whom caring for people and the environment are top priorities. In addition, with each edition we have been able to observe the growing importance of social innovation throughout the world. There are numerous explanations for this phenomenon, but the scalability of social innovations – which means that they can be replicated in different places around this world in which problems and needs have become truly global – may be one of them. Moreover, as Antonio Huertas pointed out: “To close the inequality gaps, not only do we need more and better solutions, but rather, above all else, those that are new and different.”
The semifinalists now have to defend their idea before a jury made up of experts in the social innovation field. The representative of each project will have ten minutes to test their ability to convey their idea, convince the jury of the potential of their initiative and engender enthusiasm among attendees. There are 17 projects from Latin American countries – specifically Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico and Peru – and nine Spanish projects.
The proposals from Latin America that have reached the semifinal stage demonstrate how simple, viable ideas are capable of transforming society. For example, Hope, a Peruvian project that consists of a simple self-sampling kit which, at a low cost, can help prevent cervical cancer through highrisk HPV screening. Also from Peru is a program presented by a non-profit institution called Aspat, which provides access to health insurance for vulnerable people affected by tuberculosis. Insurance Innovation is also the goal of Microwd Inversiones, a financial inclusion platform offering micro-insurance, pension plans and savings products to unbanked women (those without access to bank accounts). Vipa is the last of the programs created in Peru to reach the semifinal. This is a citizen participation app that enables any incident on the public highway to be reported to the competent authorities.
Two of the semifinalist projects are from Ecuador. One of them is a financial platform that connects the savings of college students with those in need of small loans. They produce a credit risk score using neural networks to predict loan fulfillment, and the platform is known as Banco Estudiantil Fintech [Fintech Student Bank]. As for Clipp MaaS, it enables people to travel to any place around the city by using a platform to choose from the transit options available for that route.
A further two semifinalists are from Argentina. One, Woocar, is in the Sustainable Mobility and Road Safety category. This is an AI project that analyzes data to improve the behavior of those driving vehicles. The other, launched by Fundación Donde Quiero Estar, focuses on the needs of cancer patients and their families.
From Mexico, Proactible develops affordable prostheses and orthoses for people with lowerlimb amputations, which enable them to walk once again.
Within the growing social innovation trend in Latin America, Brazil is one of the most active countries. It will be present in this semifinal with eight projects, initiatives firmly committed to society and environmental sustainability. Three of them are presented in the Improving Health and Digital Technology category. Pickcells is a small portable laboratory for the detection of infectious objects in parasitology and sedimentoscopy examinations. Afinando o Cérebro [Tuning the Brain] helps health professionals, teachers and users stimulate auditory processing in the brain. Thanks to this platform, the neuronal connections related to attention, memory and understanding are strengthened, thus enhancing the quality of the learning process, as well as communication between individuals. The aim of the project from the Laura Fressato Institute is to decrease mortality rates and the length of hospital stays for patients at risk of clinical deterioration, by means of a platform that transmits early warning signs to health care professionals.
Two other Brazilian Insurance Innovation projects have reached the semifinal. AiPlates Technologies employs AI to identify and track stolen or suspicious vehicles. At the same time, the platform alerts police forces of their location in real time. Electrowave detects electrical power anomalies, thus helping reduce the risk of electrical damage. As for the Sustainable Mobility and Road Safety category, Brazil has presented a platform that promotes the use of bicycles. Bike Anjo helps people learn how to ride a bike and practice pedaling, connects cyclists and offers recommendations for safe routes. For its part, Guiaderodas offers people with disabilities and limited mobility the possibility of checking and reviewing accessibility all over the world, thanks to a collaborative guide for mobile devices. Finally, SAS Smart offers an application which ensures better attention for the victims of traffic accidents.
Spain is undoubtedly the most-represented country in the European semifinal. There are a total of nine projects, three in each category. Competing in Health are: MIWEndo Solutions, a medical device designed to enhance the prevention and diagnosis of colorectal cancer (CRC); iHERO, which stands for Intelligent Human Evaluation & Rehabilitation after Oncology, is intended for children with cancer, offering them linguistic, cognitive and physical rehabilitation through the use of social robotics and other technologies; designed for patients with Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, the i4life smart device fitted to a walking stick emits visual and haptic stimuli to help them cope with freezing of gait episodes.
As for Insurance Innovation, two of the projects that will be present in the semifinal are designed to care for people over 65 years of age. Mijubil. acción, for example, puts social organizations interested in attracting senior talent in contact with active retirees ready and willing to collaborate. And Pensium facilitates the access of dependent elderly people to private residential homes in exchange for their income from renting their own homes, which they themselves arrange. AvalVida is also concerned with rented property: tenants uses their savings insurance as a guarantee for due payment of rent to the landlord.
All of the projects which have reached the semifinals have several features in common: their innovative nature, their viability and their ability to spark enthusiasm
Spain also presents three Sustainable Mobility and Road Safety projects. Specially designed for people with reduced visibility, EGARA is an intelligent assistance handle that prevents painful collisions with obstacles situated above waist height they are unable to detect. Light App turns to smart city systems and the use of AI to promote actions that encourage citizens to be more sustainable. Aicross seeks to prevent carpedestrian accidents on and near crosswalks and traffic lights, by means of a vibration platform on the road surface which lets pedestrians know that a vehicle is approaching.
All of the projects which have reached the semifinals have several features in common: their innovative nature, their viability and their ability to spark enthusiasm. An essential prerequisite is that they are financially solvent and employ the company’s own technologies and tools; but, above all else, they must be capable of making a positive impact on the lives of many people in our society. Despite the difficulty that finding so many semifinalists who fulfill these conditions might be expected to entail, as on previous occasions, the challenge has been to select which projects should get through to the semifinal, given the extremely high quality of all the entries.
Only nine projects will get through to the next round. Who will the chosen few be?