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$2M Grant for Technology Against Poverty


17 February 2017 at 4:42 pm
Wendy Williams
Global technology giant Google, in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has shared a $2 million prize pool between four Australian not for profits in recognition of their use of technology against poverty.


Wendy Williams | 17 February 2017 at 4:42 pm


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$2M Grant for Technology Against Poverty
17 February 2017 at 4:42 pm

Global technology giant Google, in partnership with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, has shared a $2 million prize pool between four Australian not for profits in recognition of their use of technology against poverty.

The University of Technology Sydney, Oxfam Australia, Engineers Without Borders and 40K Foundation will each receive a $500,000 grant provided by InnovationXchange as part of the 2016 Google Impact Challenge run by Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google.

The DFAT Technology Against Poverty Prize encourages not-for-profit organisations registered in Australia to explore new ways of delivering social impact internationally, using technology.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, who announced the winners on Thursday, said the winners were working to improve the lives of people in the Indo-Pacific region through the innovative use of technology.

“Australia is the first government to partner with Google.org to deliver a prize as part of the Impact Challenge, which is conducted worldwide to support local non-profit innovators to use technology to solve key social and development problems,” Bishop said.

The winning projects included providing access to micro-financial services in the Philippines, creating a social enterprise using innovative water treatment technology to provide drinking water in Timor-Leste, and improving learning outcomes for children in India and Cambodia.

UTS received the funding for a low-cost, easy to operate project to remove arsenic and deliver safe and clean drinking water.

The prize was awarded to the team led by Distinguished Professor Saravanamuth Vigneswaran and Dr Tien Vinh Nguyen for their project to remove pollutants from groundwater in the Red River Delta of Vietnam.

This area is densely populated with high levels of arsenic in groundwater leading to serious public health issues, and current systems are neither cost-effective nor efficient at removing arsenic.

The UTS team is working with local Vietnamese partners on a local solution to a local problem in an area of about 20 million people.

“So this sustainable system will both maximise locally sourced resources and minimise arsenic waste and environmental pollution, improving health and quality of life,” Vigneswaran said.

Meanwhile 40K Foundation received the grant for 40K PLUS which helps to improve access to quality education in schools with minimal resources.

Over the next two years, 40K PLUS will assist thousands of children in India and Cambodia, aiming to reach 1.1 million children in 10 years.

The foundation said on its Facebook page that the grant was “an awesome pat on the back from Google and DFAT”.

“Epic effort by the 40K team over the past four years to stick it out despite a lot of bumps along the way, and thanks all Globers and other supporters who have made this happen,” they said.


Wendy Williams  |  Editor  |  @WendyAnWilliams

Wendy Williams is a journalist specialising in the not-for-profit sector and broader social economy. She has been the editor of Pro Bono News since 2018.

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