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Patel Grand Challenge Finalists Announced

Sep 17, 2012

posted in: Centerfeatured

The Patel College of Global Sustainability and the International Water Association announced the four finalists of the Patel Smart Pot Grand Challenge at the IWA World Water Congress in Busan, Korea.

The Patel Smart Pot Grand Challenge is a solutions-oriented research contest that was initiated and coordinated by PSGS at the University of South Florida, funded with the generous support of Dr. Kiran Patel.

This year’s Smart Pot Grand Challenge was to produce low-cost, efficient technology that can produce safe drinking water and yet fit into the traditional, everyday water collection pots used all over the world.

The Smart Pot Grand Challenge is the first of a series of Grand Challenges that will be raised over the coming years. Each Grand Challenge will be focused on solving practical problems in developing countries using local knowledge and local experience.

Dr. Patel launched the challenge at the 2nd IWA Development Congress, opening the competition to designers, researchers, inventors and entrepreneurs from developing countries.


More than 20 applications from around the world were received, and experts and researchers at the University of South Florida reviewed each proposal. After a thorough assessment, four proposals were selected as finalists for the next stage: full proposal development. These four proposals show great promise in terms of their cost and their innovative use of treatment technologies.

To help the finalists develop their ideas into full proposals, they will each receive $8,000 to support them as they prepare a full, 20-page proposal over the next 6 months.

The full proposals will then be evaluated by a panel of international experts who will select the Patel Smart Pot Grand Challenge Winner. The winner, and their team, will receive about $100,000 to turn their proposal into a reality.

In this process, the IWA and PSGS will support the winner as they develop a prototype to ensure that the product enters the marketplace, bringing a real solution to those who need it.

The shortlisted applicants, who will be receiving $8,000, are:

  • Philip Wilson is the founder of Ecofiltro in Guatemala. This is a private company that produces about 25,000 filters a year. He proposed a hand-operated suction device that pulls water through a downscaled, silver-impregnated ceramic filter tube that can be inserted into any container of water.
  • Dr. Jo Burgess is Research Manager at the Water Research Commission in South Africa. Her proposal is based on a gravity-operated, active carbon membrane filter with an optional second filter for chlorine removal and a cup for boiling water.
  • Prahlad Tewari a research associate at The Energy and Resources Institute in New Delhi, India. His application proposes a pre-filter at the mouth of the vessel and a second filter of a zeolite layer sandwiched between two sand beds.
  • Dr. Bright Kwakye-Awuah is the head of the material sciences group at the Kuwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, in Kumasi, Ghana. His application proposes a silver-impregnated zeolite ceramic filter, produced from locally available low-cost bauxite sources abundant in Ghana.

Read the story on USF News, here.
Read a story on finalist Jo Burgess in South African news site, Mail & Guardian.