LATAM4WEF Innovations Programme // Article Series No. 3: Innovative solutions for water, energy, and food security challenges: The 5 winners of the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab
Recognizing the need for innovative solutions to WEF Nexus challenges, the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab brought together some of the brightest minds from across the region. The five winning teams of the Innovation Lab have created solutions to some of the toughest challenges facing the region. Learn more about the contestants and their innovative ideas.
This article was first published on the Seedstars website on February 7th, 2023.
Water, energy, and food are the essential building blocks of human life and are key to achieving sustainable development. However, in Latin America, these vital resources are facing mounting challenges as a result of increasing drought, water scarcity, and population growth. These issues are further exacerbated by the rising demand for energy and persistent food security concerns.
Recognizing the need for innovative solutions to these challenges, the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab brought together some of the brightest minds from across the region to compete and find ways to make a real difference.
After a rigorous evaluation process, five teams emerged as winners with their cutting-edge ideas that can create positive social and economic impact. Let's take a look at these inspiring teams and the impactful solutions they are developing to address the pressing water, energy, and food challenges in Latin America.
Challenge: Water - Energy
Country of operation: Mexico
Based in Mexico, the team at Geokeri, led by Monserrat Meza Angeles at the Innovation Lab, is developing innovative geothermal energy solutions. With a wealth of experience in the field of geothermal energy, Monserrat and the Geokeri team have come up with a solution to create clean energy and purified water.
The idea for Geokeri was born out of their experience and passion for geothermal energy. Through the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab, mechanical engineer Montserrat was able to get together a diverse team of experts, including an agricultural engineer, product developers, and other passionate and innovative individuals with a focus on environmental management and a growth mindset. Together, they worked to make the Geokeri Minimum Viable Product (MVP) a reality.
Geokeri’s main goal is to develop a replicable model of a portable, clean, and distributed energy generation system from hot springs, capable of obtaining purified water as an additional product. This technology has the potential to revolutionize the way people in Mexico access renewable energy resources. The team at Geokeri is working hard to make this a reality and is committed to providing sustainable and cost-effective solutions for communities in need.
Challenge: Water, Energy, Food
Target country of operation: Peru
Proyecto Nace, headed by Hector Sepulveda Vasquez, addresses the pressing water and agricultural challenges facing the coastal regions of Chile. The team of professionals behind the project, advised by the Israeli embassy in Chile, is working to solve the water shortage for human and agricultural consumption through seawater desalination.
Their solution involves the construction of Autonomous Desalination Plants and a large-scale implementation of one green hydrogen plant. With the plastic and municipal waste from desalination, Proyecto Nace also generates green hydrogen, as fuel to energize the desalination plants.
The team has already developed an MVP of their solution and is currently in the development phase. They are also utilizing reverse osmosis and online software/AI to monitor the process.
Challenge: Water - Food
Country of operation: Colombia
The LYNKS team, led by Alejandro Pustowka, is made up of experienced professionals from the agricultural and IT sectors. The company, LYNKS, is a spinoff of Cenicaña - Sugar Cane Research Center in Valle del Cauca, Colombia.
LYNKS addresses the WEF Nexus challenge by developing a solution for flow measurement in open channels to identify the consumption of water in sugarcane cultivation in the region. The team is ensuring to bring transparency, traceability, and intelligence to all the processes involved with water resources, applying technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Business Intelligence (BI), and analytics.
The team valued the opportunity to create their innovation team and the MVP generated during the LATAM4WEF program has made them think of new ways to improve their product/service. With this solution, LYNKS aims to reduce the water footprint associated with irrigation in farmers, achieve an adequate balance between water supply and demand in irrigation districts, and facilitate the sustainable management of water sources in agro-industrial processes.
FWF (Future With Flies)
Challenge: Energy - Food
Target country of operation: Colombia
In the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab, the team Future With Flies (FWF) emerged as one of the winners. The team, led by Nicolas Vargas, is made up of young professionals from Colombia and Ecuador who are dedicated to finding innovative solutions to the challenges facing the agricultural industry. Their solution addresses one of the biggest challenges in the industry, the high cost of animal feed, by providing technological equipment to support agricultural producers to generate circular economies from the use of organic waste to produce protein.
Their solution involves the creation of hatcheries for black soldier fly larvae with automated condition control software. These hatcheries take advantage of the excess organized waste, which has a triple economic, social, and environmental impact in the locality.
The team's ultimate goal is to build equipment for poultry and swine producers that reduce expenses on protein-balanced inputs by 40% in a year. With this solution, they aim to support the protection and strengthening of natural ecosystems and create a triple economic, social, and environmental impact. They are committed to providing sustainable and cost-effective solutions to support the agricultural industry and improve the lives of farmers and communities.
Challenge: Water - Food
Target country of operation: Colombia
Led by Pedro Jefferson Cabrera Rodríguez, the AiGROU team is tackling one of the biggest challenges facing the agricultural industry: inefficiency in the use of water and energy. Through their innovative solution, the team is using open technology and a custom machine learning pipeline to provide a platform that allows medium-sized farmers and ranchers to analyze and better understand their data, ultimately maximizing efficiency, and productivity, as well as reducing water and energy consumption.
The AiGROU team is a diverse group of eight professionals from six Latin American countries who came together at the Latam4WEF Innovation Lab. Three of the members work at Awaio, an SME that works towards water security, while the rest were brought together through the Lab. After listening to each member's ideas, identifying common themes, and developing new proposals, the team was able to land on a solution to a NEXUS WEF challenge, bringing them together in their commitment to addressing the issue of inefficiencies in water and energy use in the agricultural industry and AiGROU was born.
The AiGROU team's solution is an open hardware and software platform for the agricultural industry that uses machine learning (Language Models) and IoT to address inefficiencies in water and energy use. The platform will also provide timely care in extreme weather events, which will improve agricultural and livestock yields, contributing to sustainable food production. With a determined focus on generating economic value and creating positive social and environmental impacts, the AiGROU team is dedicated to connecting with more people and organizations to promote technological development in vulnerable areas.
LATAM4WEF Matchmaking Demo Day
The five winning teams of LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab have created solutions to some of the toughest challenges facing the region and are ready to take them further.
If your organization is financing or supporting projects in natural resources management for more water, energy, and food security in the region, we would like to invite you to participate at the LATAM4WEF Matchmaking Demo Day in Mexico City on March 30, 2023, where these inspiring groups will showcase how they're transforming Latin America with technology, collaboration, innovation, and sustainability.
Contact Paula García Malpica, LATAM Regional Program Manager, for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also visit the LATAM4WEF page here.
- LATAM4WEF Innovations Programme // Article Series No. 1: Successful applicants start innovations programme
- LATAM4WEF Innovations Programme // Article Series No. 2: The Future of WEF Solutions in Latin America and the Caribbean: A Recap of the LATAM4WEF Innovation Lab
- Call for Applications // LATAM4WEF launches search for youth innovators and SMEs solving the regions’ water, energy, and food security issues
- Nexus Regional Dialogue in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC)