Entrepreneurs, Scientists Coming to Colorado State University to Develop Businesses Helping World’s Poor

Note to Reporters: Media interested in attending the event should contact Emily Wilmsen or Jennifer Dimas.

Starting today, a diverse group of innovators will spend three weeks at Colorado State University figuring out how to build sustainable businesses to disseminate eight new products to some of the world’s poorest people.

Participants include top scientists, designers and engineers from around the world. The group also involves craftsmen and entrepreneurs from cities and rural villages in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

These 50 hand-picked innovators from 20 countries will converge to turn their prototypes into products and ventures for improving health, safety and wellbeing of the poor at the fourth annual International Development Design Summit. Co-sponsoring the event with CSU are MIT, Franklin W. Olin College and Cooper Perkins.

“To solve global challenges, technology is not enough. Innovative product design, business models and supply chains are often required. Participants will work on how to scale up manufacturing and develop markets as with the goal of building sustainable enterprises,” said Paul Hudnut, CSU entrepreneurship instructor and co-founder of the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise Program in the College of Business. Hudnut is co-hosting the summit with Professor Bryan Willson, director of the CSU Engines and Energy Conversion Laboratory in the College of Engineering.

Hudnut and Willson helped bring the conference to Colorado State because of their work co-founding Envirofit International, a non-profit, technology leader that uses sustainable, scalable business models to solve global health and environmental problems. Envirofit developed a two-stroke retrofit kit, now being used on polluting taxis in the Philippines, and cleaner burning, more efficient cookstoves that are being sold in India and several African countries.

Three of the selected 10 inventions have been developed by students at Colorado State University through the Global Social and Sustainable Enterprise Program – a master’s program that teaches students entrepreneurial, sustainable approaches to address global poverty, health and environmental challenges:

• AYZH Inc. (pronounced “eyes”) is a for-profit social venture developing and distributing products to improve the health and livelihood of impoverished women in rural communities in India.

• SEED’s mission is to improve the quality of life for rural farmers in South Asia (Indian subcontinent) through affordable and sustainable irrigation practices. SEED will help increase the net income of small landholder farmers by developing irrigation products and services that are affordable and designed specifically for small acreage farms.

• Running Water is an enterprise committed to using sustainable business models to bring clean water solutions to communities in Kenya.

The first two International Development Design Summits were held at MIT in 2007 and 2008. In 2009, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology hosted the summit in Ghana where the teams worked with villages in the area. All three previous summits focused on designing new technology solutions; this year’s summit focuses on broader dissemination of these solutions.