Amrut Dhara - clean water without plastic PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 February 2015 00:00

I've been an advisor to Amrutdhara since they started work on their alternative to plastic bottles as a solution to clean water. If you've spent any time in India you'll know how much of a problem both access to clean water, AND the pervasive litter from plastic water bottles is.

The basic idea is simple - a water ATM, supplying clean drinking water after depositing a couple of coins, its the social engineering that will make this work - a supply chain to bring bulk water to public spaces and small stores instead of bottles.

Now they've got their indiegogo campaign up and running, a small amount goes a long way in India so if you can help then please do.

Two entries in this years's Buckminster Fuller Ideas Index PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 February 2012 17:12

Two of the projects we've been working with are now listed in this year's Buckminster Fuller ideas index.

MinVayu - low cost wind for the underserved

Is training village mechanics to assemble and install wind turbines, while designing a low cost turbine optimised for places with low wind.

Listing on Idea index

UV Aquastar - affordable drinking water

Have a low-cost drinking water device using ultraviolet.

Listing on Idea Index.

Engineering collaborators PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 03 January 2012 10:54

I was at the IEEE "Global Humanitarian Conference" in October, to broaden collaboration with engineering organisations. The conference showed the broad interest among some skilled engineers, but it also showed both the lack of grounding in the realities of developing world, not only among the audience, but also many of the speakers. Matching skilled engineers with projects is particularly relevant for the highly skilled, but often busy, engineers who cannot take a year to participate in a capacity building placement with a developing country organisation. At the conference we spent time with Engineering For Change, and have also attended the BERC conference, and spoken to EWB Australia.

At the moment we are looking for engineering volunteers to work with Mike on the MinVayu project, we need people with structural; mechanical; electo-mechanical; power electronics skills.

Newsletter delayed by Cyclone Thane PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 02 January 2012 10:43

cyclone weather mapI'm a bit delayed sending off this newsletter, I'm sitting in Auroville in Southern India recovering from Cyclone Thane - it took out thousands of trees - 70% of the forest here, there was one across the road every ten meters or so, and of course that took out power, and phone lines, no electricity means no water since the pumps won't run, and of course no internet. Its day 4 now, mobile phones are back on and most places have water, roads are open to motorbikes, and some to cars, and one or two places with generators, solar or wind, have power &/or internet. I'm here to work with MinVayu (see below), a tree took out their workshop which will be a bit of a set-back, but they will recover, and we'll do our best to help.

MinVayu - small wind for the underserved PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 31 December 2011 10:50

MinVayu turbineThe MinVayu project announced in the last newsletter, is moving along well, although its been set back by losing its workshop in Cyclone Thane, and Mitra will be with them in India until the end of January to help move it along. They've added new people to the team in India, and training of local mechanics is continuing.

UV Aquastar - affordable water treatment PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 December 2011 10:49

cyclone weather mapUV Aquastar has designed simple, affordable devices that treat water with ultra-violet light, killing pathogens and enabling people to take control of supplying their own safe drinking water. A mobile (bottle or stirrer) and a spigot integrated into water dispensers can be powered by battery, solar panel or grid.

New Partner - Unreasonable Institute PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 September 2011 11:11

Unreasonable logo

The third annual Unreasonable Institute will unite 25 exceptional, early-stage entrepreneurs for 6 weeks in the summer of 2012 in the beautiful, entrepreneurial city of Boulder, Colorado. Over the course of these 6 weeks, chosen entrepreneurs will live and work with 50 world-class mentors and portfolio managers from over 20 impact investment funds. They'll pitch ventures to hundreds of potential partners and funders, gain access to legal and design support services, and receive unprecedented levels of media exposure.

Natural Innovation has enjoyed interacting with last year's fellows, several of which have, in our opinion, the chance to make a globally significant impact. Since Unreasonable's short term intensive program is a great complement to our longer term mentoring, Natural Innovation has partnered with Unreasonable to explore ways we can support each other.


New Partner - William James Foundation PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 September 2011 11:10

We are also announcing our partnership with William James Foundation. WJF runs a set of business plan competitions for for-profit social entrepreneurs.

One of the strong points of the WJF competition is the extensive feedback received from judges, including Mitra. We have also been exploring ways to enable a longer term incubation by Natural Innovation to complement the short term advice from judges.

As an "outreach partner" of WJF, our mentees and network have access to discounts on the entry fee, hurry up and ask me for the code, as applications are due on October 15th.


New Partner - ReAllocate PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 September 2011 11:09

ReAllocate logoNatural Innovation would like to announce it's partnership with ReAllocate, a new NGO that is coordinating pro-bono engineers to work on humanitarian projects.

Unlike other excellent organizations such as Engineers Without Borders, it focuses on the short-term individual or team "consulting" projects, and on working with NGOs to solve specific humanitarian problems. ReAllocate's access to engineers is a natural complement for Natural Innovations focus on taking innovations to commercial viability.


The joys of sharing PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 September 2011 11:08

Snake and LizardI'm a big fan of, whose lively blog shows how many ways we can improve our lives by sharing.

During my recent trip to India I discovered a new angle on it. While riding an electric scooter down a track barely wide enough for the bike, a guy steps into the road brandishing a wickedly sharp looking knife. I might have been scared except that no self-respecting bandit would have been wearing a large nappy like dhoti, and the ancient toothless grin looked friendly. We had no language in common but it seemed he just wanted a ride, and I guess waving his knife and grinning worked pretty well at getting me to stop!

I wish I'd had my camera, but later that week I snapped this different way of sharing - a lizard and a mildly venomous snake both trying to invite the other for dinner.

The funding gap PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 24 September 2011 11:07

As part of Natural Innovation's mission to improve the climate for technology innovation, Mitra has been trying to get the message out that the Social Entrepreneurship / Impact Investment space needs to address the serious gap between the mostly late-stage, risk averse, investors with high minimum amounts and the mostly early stage entrepreneurs, needing small amounts of money and lots of help.

This gap is particularly evident when an entrepreneur is in a developing country, where US$200,000 will fund a team of 10 for a year, and all the prototyping and development. But to US based investors, $200k is too small to be worth the cost of the due-diligence! At the recent SoCap conference, this gap was finally being recognised and talked about by investors, while incubators like Natural Innovation met with entrepreneurs and those few funders who understand to explore possible solutions.

SoCap has rapidly become the conference to pay attention to for the sector we work in. I found both Investors Circle and Cleantech Open interesting and valuable, however Investors Circle is in practice only available to US entrepreneurs and we also heard from two companies that the venture capital investors they met throught their pitches at Cleantech Open had tried to get them to drop their social missions and just focus on profitable western markets.


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