Past I2S winner TOHL conducted a successful test run of its system to install a water-transport system via helicopter in rural Chile.
Sanivation, a 2012 I2S winner, is working in developing countries to install latrine systems that employ solar energy to sanitize waste.
Published on: 02-13-2013
Rolls of tubing, uncoiling from helicopters,
creating new pipelines in mere minutes; human waste, treated by the sun instead
of an expensive sewer system. Is this the infrastructure of the future? If some
recent Georgia Tech grads have anything to do with it, the answer will be yes.
Each spring, dozens of students on
Georgia Tech’s campus compete in the Ideas to SERVE (I2S) Competition, an event
for students who have innovative ideas for improving the world. While many of
the participants graduate and go on to professional careers elsewhere, others
continue pursuing their projects after graduation, hoping to bring them to
Organized by Georgia
Tech's Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship, I2S is open to all
Georgia Tech students (graduate and undergraduate) and recent alumni. I2S is a
competition of ideas where creativity, imagination, and technology are applied
to solving social issues and sustaining our environment.
Those who would like to compete in the
2013 I2S Competition must submit "intent to compete" forms, executive
summaries of their business concepts, and short video pitches by March 26.
The preliminary round of the I2S
competition will be a poster showcase on April 5, followed by competition
finals and an awards ceremony at a special IMPACT event on April 10. Up to
$20,000 in various prize categories will be awarded.
Past Winner Making Headway Via Helicopter
One past I2S team, TOHL (who placed
third in 2012), has made headway with its concept to increase efficiency and
decrease costs associated with remote fluid transport (see YouTube video). The innovation was first
conceived in the wake of the Haiti earthquakes when TOHL’s Apoorva Sinha
envisioned a fluid transport system that would cost effectively and efficiently
deliver fluids to earthquake victims.
The innovative TOHL system involves
un-spooling large rolls of coiled tubing from helicopters. The flying system
quickly “builds” a temporary infrastructure system, which is often needed to
efficiently deliver water to disaster-stricken areas.
While the idea of dropping
infrastructure from a helicopter may seem far-fetched to some, TOHL has already
successfully tested the model. After receiving
funding from Start-Up Chile in 2012, the team conducted a successful simulation
of their system. Working in a mountainous region in rural Chile, the helicopter system
installed a one-kilometer pipeline in less than nine minutes, demonstrating the
concept’s ability to quickly provide fluids to remote areas in an “on-demand”
After their successful initial test run, the company
was featured by several prominent news outlets including Reuters, Forbes, and The Economist. TOHL has also been
successful with its fundraising efforts, attracting multiple donors. In October
2012, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed announced that TOHL had won StartUp Atlanta's
$10,000 Entrepreneur Video Competition. The team also won $35,000 a pitch competition
in Chile and a mention from former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.
Solar Toilets to Save Lives
2012 I2S contestant, developed a concept to help people in developing
countries who lack access to basic facilities that treat human waste (a problem
that contributes to disease and death).
Since winning the most market-ready
prize at I2S, Sanivation has continued to refine its idea for a solar latrine
system. The team is working to provide an affordable, environmentally friendly and
sustainable way to sanitize human feces without expensive, first-world
To further its efforts, Sanivation has
sought support from various international aid organizations. Recently, the team
progressed to the final rounds of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s
“Reinvent the Toilet Challenge” and the USAID Development Innovation Ventures
(DIV) Program. The team also presented at the Dry Toilet Conference in Finland
and was also selected to present at three
other prominent conferences, including the UNC Water and Health
In addition to fundraising, Sanivation
continues to conduct basic operations, installing innovative toilets around the
globe – as well as a solar dehydrating toilet at the popular Burning Man