2016 Laureate Impact Award: PATH is a leader in global health innovation that reaches more than 150 million people a year with lifesaving technologies, including vaccines and nutritionally fortified foods. PATH was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2003, 2007 and 2009. Photo courtesy of PATH.

The World’s Best Change Makers

The 2016 Tech Awards laureates are a collection of the most effective social entrepreneurs on the planet.

The Tech Museum of Innovation has honored 287 social entrepreneurs and nonprofits since launching The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, in 2000. Over the years, these laureates have continued to do amazing things. And so, it’s time to do something special.

This year, The Tech recognizes the best of the best.

2016 Intel Environment Award: Source International provides on-the-ground technical and scientific support to allow local communities to hold mining and oil extraction companies accountable for pollution and illness. Source International was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2014. Photo courtesy of Advocate Creative.

The laureate program was created to celebrate and support international organizations that are using innovative technologies to benefit humanity in truly extraordinary ways. The collective global impact of the 287 laureates is nothing short of astounding.

So it’s time to pause and reflect on all the laureates have accomplished, making the 2016 awards a retrospective look at the program. We have selected a handful of laureates whose work best exemplifies the profound influence of all the previous honorees.

The Tech is proud to present this year’s magnificent—and magnanimous—seven, who will be honored at The Tech Awards gala on Nov. 17:

Laureate Impact Award: PATH, a laureate in 2003, 2007 and 2009

Intel Environment Award: Source International, a 2014 laureate

2016 Microsoft Education Award: Equal Access reaches 67 million households in nine countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East with informative and educational media programs that address critical challenges, especially those focused on women’s rights and education. Equal Access was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2003. Photo courtesy of Advocate Creative.

Microsoft Education Award: Equal Access, a 2003 laureate

PayPal Equality Award: Souktel, a 2010 laureate

Katherine M. Swanson Young Innovator Award: Angaza, a 2012 laureate

Sobrato Organization Economic Development Award: IDE-India, a 2004 and 2010 laureate

Sutter Health Award: D-Rev, a 2013 laureate

All are continuing to save and improve lives in their own, unique way by providing the most basic human needs to people in some of the most marginalized and forgotten communities around the world. Clean water and air. Food. Jobs. Light. Life-changing information. Healthcare.

Hope.

It’s no exaggeration to say that they are changing the world.

2016 PayPal Equality Award: Souktel helps reduce unemployment by connecting employers and job seekers with a matchmaking platform that works on basic phones, reaching 1 million users in 30 emerging markets around the world. Souktel was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2010. Photo courtesy of Advocate Creative.

“These people commit everything to making a difference,” said Craig Stephens, a Santa Clara University professor who oversaw the laureate selection process. “They all could have been successful in other fields. Yet, this is how they dedicate their lives. It’s inspirational to see people who are willing to help others who don’t have a voice, who don’t have resources and are taken advantage of by governments and corporations that don’t care. You can get a lump in your throat just listening to what they do.”

2016 Katherine M. Swanson Young Innovator Award: Angaza removes the upfront price barrier of solar energy products, enabling off-grid customers to prepay for clean energy in affordable amounts. Angaza was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2012. Photo courtesy of Advocate Creative.

The laureates share some similar attributes. All are using design-centric methods of thinking through, and then solving, problems. Each has gone to people — potential customers, if you will — and learned from them what exactly they want. In turn, they have delivered those goods and services at a cost that these customers can afford. It’s innovation at its purest, and best.

They also believe in giving a hand up, not a handout. They have succeeded by helping people without means to help themselves. By doing this, they are providing something else — self-respect and dignity.

Finally, there is one other common theme. These laureates all express gratitude for the role The Tech played in their development. Their previous awards often came at a time when they were just starting out and still not quite sure of their mission. Being honored as a laureate was the stamp of approval they needed at just that critical moment and became a springboard to boost them to even greater achievements.

2016 Sobrato Organization Economic Development Award: IDE-India invented a low-cost drip irrigation system and foot-powered water pump, which currently reach 1.38 million households and 7.4 million people in India, leading to cumulative additional net income generation exceeding $1.4 billion. IDE-India was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2004 and 2010. Photo courtesy of IDE-India.

“It was absolute jubilation the first time we won The Tech award,” said Lesley Marincola, CEO of Angaza, a 2012 honoree for its pay-as-you-go technology to help make solar energy products affordable for people living in remote parts of the world. “It was just a great piece of validation and really helped propel the business off the ground. Looking back, we owe a lot to being named as a laureate. It really started us on the path.”

As you will see, Angaza and these other six laureates have only expanded on their good work as they strive to make the world a little better place.

2016 Sutter Health Award: D-Rev designs and delivers medical technologies for underserved populations, using phototherapy to treat more than 100,000 babies with severe jaundice in 2015. D-Rev was named a Tech Awards laureate in 2013. Photo courtesy of D-Rev.

“These stories should tug at your heartstrings,” Stephens said. “But I also hope that it makes people think about how we’re a global community and that we should be using our talents together. The laureate program is about recognizing our shared humanity.”

And the best, these laureates all say, is yet to come.


The Tech Awards, presented by Applied Materials, will be held on Nov. 17, 2016. For more information visit: www.thetech.org/tech-awards-presented-applied-materials.