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Bangladesh Innovators Win Inaugural EarthTech Challenge in Noosa

3 March 2020, Noosa, Queensland: For young Bangladeshi innovators Faysal Islam, Rafiq Islam and Anas Hossain Makki, developing a solution to help improve healthcare access to remote Bangladesh communities was a direct reaction to a personal need. Never did the three entrepreneurs expect that their local innovation would have global potential and see them crowned winners of the Inaugural EarthTech Challenge, this week in Australia.

The EarthTech Challenge was developed to identify and support young innovators and changemakers with ideas to address and solve some of the world’s biggest social and environmental challenges. The 6-week online program saw 855 registered participants, 150 submissions, and 100 judges participate. 10 finalist teams were invited to participate in a 3-day summit on Noosa’s Makepeace Island, Richard Branson’s Australian home.

Through the course of the EarthTech Summit experts, investors, business leaders and academics met and mentored the 10 finalist teams from across the world including Uganda, Nigeria, India, Philippines, Australia and Bangladesh. The finalists’ solutions, all addressing the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, included innovative emergency and sustainable housing, waste management solutions and medical devices.

Attendees included Andrew Laming MP Member for Bowen, Christopher John, CEO of Prince’s Trust, Leanne Kemp, Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur and a range of notable business leaders and investors.

The winning team, Safewheel, presented emergency electric ambulance vehicles, offering affordable access and doorstep medical services to villagers living under $5 per day, with a 300% faster response times than existing solutions and a 50% cost reduction in rural services. The solution addresses the Sustainable Development Goals of Good Health & Wellness (#3), Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure (#9) and Decent Work and Economic Growth (#8).

Commenting on the win, Faysal Islam said: “We’re so happy to have won the EarthTech Challenge and we are confident that with the new connections we’ve made in Australia, Safewheel will continue to grow and expand internationally. Our idea started in response to personal stories of people without access to medical services and our ambition is to be serving 1.7m people annually in 5 years, in Bangladesh alone. Imagine the potential impact if such units were used in remote communities across Asia, Africa and South America.”

Co-founder of EarthTech, Ant Moorhouse said: “We’ve been so impressed by the quality of innovation and the diversity of experience that was generated by these young entrepreneurs. The EarthTech Challenge and the summit have proven our theory that mixing youth innovation, with scalable digital technology and purpose can create exponential impact. We are committed to supporting the Safewheel team, along with all ten finalist teams, as they continue their startup journey.”

EarthTech is a social enterprise that is supporting, building and empowering the people, ideas and companies that solve the world’s most pressing environmental and social issues.