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Meet the finalists

 

Benetech

Bookshare: a globally accessible library for people with reading barriers 

Project location: Global
Organisation located: United States of America

Empowering people who are unable to read standard print by scaling the global accessible library from a current reach of over 650,000 people in over 85 countries reading 700,000 book titles in accessible formats such as braille, audio, highlighted text and large-font text, totaling millions of reading choices.

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The social need

Literacy has the power to transform educational opportunities and employment options, helping people to overcome enormous barriers. UNESCO has reported that if all students in low-income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty. Furthermore, an estimated 285 million people worldwide are visually impaired, with 90 per cent of these people living in developing countries. People that read and learn differently due to reading barriers such as blindness, low vision, dyslexia, or mobility impairments have substantially reduced opportunities to read, learn, and access information.

The proposal

Benetech created and runs Bookshare, the world’s largest accessible ebook library, creating accessible books at a fraction of the cost of traditional approaches. The Bookshare collection has over 700,000 titles and supports content in over 40 different languages. Users can customize their experience and read in ways that work for them with ebooks in audio, audio plus highlighted text, braille, large font and other formats. 

Benetech proposes launching four new regional online libraries – in Africa, Latin America, South Asia, and South East Asia – where 50 per cent of the world’s population live. Users would access the books for free in multiple diverse formats like audio, electronic braille, and highlighted text, and Benetech would grow the library with content in local languages, telling local stories. 

The funding

If Benetech is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award, the funding will help to greatly expand the Bookshare ebook library globally. By giving access to reading and information, the project could bring life-changing opportunities to millions of people around the world.

Cerebral Palsy Alliance

The next generation of Remarkable™: a thriving global disability tech market

Project location: Global 
Organisation located: Australia

To support inclusion through global expansion of Remarkable™; a disability tech accelerator program that supports early stage start-ups working on products that promote inclusion and help them to become investment-ready social enterprises. 

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The social need

According to the World Health Organisation, roughly 15 per cent of people in the world have some form of disability and remain marginalised due to lack of inclusive access to education, jobs, healthcare, and transport. While digital technology holds great potential to change the lives of people with disability and reduce barriers, it has so far not achieved its promise. Many technology products have not been built to include people with disability and may even create digital barriers for people with disability. 

The proposal

Cerebral Palsy Alliance aims to support inclusion through the next generation of Remarkable™; a disability tech accelerator program that supports early stage start-ups working on products that promote inclusion and help them to become investment-ready social enterprises. 

Since its launch in 2016, Remarkable™; has supported 26 early-stage start-ups in Australia focused on disability inclusion, and plans to expand globally to USA, Europe and Asia Pacific. The proposal seeks to recruit startups by hosting global design challenges and will drive conversation, investment and advocacy around the topic by hosting an annual Disability Technology Summit. 

The funding

If Cerebral Palsy Alliance is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award, the funding will be used to expand Remarkable™ globally including in-residence coaching, mentoring, product demo days, masterclasses, marketing, start-up working spaces, seed funding for 50 startups, and development of global partnerships and advocacy, to influence a future where all technology is inclusive. 

FREO2 University of Melbourne

Saving the lives of children with pneumonia

Project location: Sub-Saharan Africa
Organisation located: Australia 

Saving the lives of children with pneumonia in remote areas of Africa through the deployment of technology that affordably produces, stores and distributes medical grade oxygen without the need of electricity. 

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The social need

Pneumonia is the single largest infectious cause of death in children worldwide, accounting for 16 per cent of all deaths of children under age five. Oxygen is critical for patients with severe pneumonia because having low blood oxygen levels increases a patient’s chances of dying. 

The proposal

The FREO2 invention is an initiative by the University of Melbourne that produces, stores, and distributes medical oxygen using technology that does not require electricity to run. The oxygen supply is capable of being powered by any renewable energy source and is provided at an affordable price. 

As electricity supply in many rural areas is unreliable, FREO2's medical oxygen enables children residing in these areas to be treated for pneumonia without having to rely on electricity. The organisation has already helped save the life of a baby in Uganda who was the first child to receive oxygen generated without relying on electricity. The FREO2 organisation has a focus on creating, testing, and deploying new technologies to help reduce inequalities in health access. 

The funding

If University of Melbourne is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award the funding specifically will be used on capital expenditure, the hiring of staff, training, travel, and project monitoring. This funding will enable the rollout at scale of FREO2 in sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific, to help save the lives of children with pneumonia in rural areas where medical facilities must depend on unreliable power sources. The organisation also hopes to achieve international endorsement for its FREO2 technology and ensure long-term sustainability and cost-effectiveness.

Girl Effect

Educating girls in India through a transformational mobile platform

Project location: South Asia
Organisation located: United Kingdom  

Educating, inspiring and mobilising vulnerable adolescent girls in India to transform their future prospects through a mobile technology platform featuring informative and engaging content, conversation and services.

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The social need

India was named the world's most dangerous place to be a woman in 2018. Women in India often lack crucial information about their sexual and reproductive health and labour force participation is low. Furthermore, a disproportionate number of educated women are not progressing into employment. 

The proposal

Girl Effect develops youth brands and mobile platforms in contexts where girls are marginalised and vulnerable. Building on prior experience and success in developing economies like Ethopia and Rwanda, Girl Effect plans to launch Chhaa Jaa (meaning ‘go forth and shine’ in Hindi) – an integrated mobile platform that offers engaging content, conversation and services to educate, inspire, and mobilise adolescent girls. 

Users will receive support in navigating and negotiating societal barriers to the workplace and will have access to sexual and reproductive health services. Girl Effect envisions that this platform will be an innovative model for connecting girls to relevant support services.

The funding

If Girl Effect is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award, the funding will contribute to building and rolling out a scalable platform with a robust offline component. The funding will enable Girl Effect to secure partnerships and improve research, monitoring, and evaluation of outcomes.

Human Rights Watch

Powering human rights through technology: a tech incubator

Project location: Global 
Organisation located: United States of America

Powering human rights through the 20/20 incubator laboratory that deploys advanced technology to uncover human rights violations and protect women, children, and others in volatile locations such as Syria and Myanmar. 

Image credit: © 2017 Anastasia Taylor-Lind for Human Rights Watch

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The social need

Large-scale human rights and humanitarian crises endanger millions of people around the world, especially those from marginalised communities. In 2017, an estimated 420 million children — more than 1 in 6 worldwide — lived in a conflict zone, a 50 percent increase from the 1990s. The physical dangers posed by these crises, as well as government repression and fear of reprisals, make it difficult to safely conduct on-the-ground investigations to gather facts, identify root causes, and pursue justice for those responsible. 

The proposal

Human Rights Watch proposes to use advanced technology to investigate and expose hidden human rights abuses across the world. Through its 20/20 incubator laboratory, the organization will deploy technology to record and track human rights violations in hard-to-reach places, such as Syria or Myanmar. 

The work will also shine a light on hidden atrocities and enhance data reporting on rights abuses globally in order to mitigate harm to women, children, and other vulnerable groups. By providing early warnings of human rights violations and real-time responses to crises, Human Rights Watch seeks to improve protections and enable all people to live free from fear and with dignity. 

The funding

If Human Rights Watch is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award, the funding will enable the organisation to exceed its initial seed investment, scale its impact, and anchor this transformation. The funds will help launch the 20/20 Lab, integrating and enhancing its early geospatial and data analytics capabilities. 

The funding will also help incubate new open source investigation capacities to identify and analyse information available online. Together with tools like satellites and drones, this open source data will be used to discover and verify abuses against at-risk populations, and to visually present this information in impactful ways via crime scene geolocation, reproduction, and 3D modelling. 

Last Mile Health

Scaling community health programs in Africa to save lives

Project location: Sub-Saharan Africa
Organisation located: North America

Community-based primary health care for vulnerable and remote populations living in sub-Saharan Africa.

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The social need

Illness is universal; access to healthcare is not. The World Health Organization estimates that half of the world’s population – including 1 billion people in remote communities – lacks access to healthcare. This has a devastating impact on health outcomes, with millions of people dying every year due to preventable causes. In addition, ensuring people living in these remote communities can access essential health services poses many challenges, including the growing shortage of skilled healthcare providers and low investments in national health systems. 

The proposal

Last Mile Health partners with governments to design, scale, strengthen, and sustain high-quality community health systems, which empower national networks of community health workers to bring life-saving primary healthcare to the world’s most remote communities. Recruited directly from their own communities, community health workers are trained to provide primary healthcare directly to their neighbours, equipped with life-saving supplies like a smartphone to track their patients, supervised by a nurse, and paid for their work. 

Through the proposed project, Last Mile Health will strengthen community health systems in order to accelerate progress towards universal health coverage. The proposal would support the expansion of the National Community Health Assistant Program in Liberia and introduce the model into another African country. 

The funding

If Last Mile Health is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award, the funding will be deployed to support the organisation’s drive to fully scale and sustain existing operations in Liberia in partnership with the government, design and scale a community healthcare system in a new African country, and develop an online academy for community health workers to strengthen their clinical skills. These steps would improve the health outcomes and opportunities of millions of individuals in remote communities.

L V Prasad Eye Institute

Strengthening comprehensive eye health services for children in India

Project location: India
Organisation located: India 

Eye care services to hundreds of thousands of children in India and other developing countries through enhancement of the Child Sight Institute, including new centres and paediatric team training.

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The social need

Precise data on child blindness is limited, but in 2018 there were over 1.4 million children worldwide blind from eye conditions, with many more suffering from vision impairment. More than half of blind children live in countries classified by the World Bank as lower-middle income, and 20-25 per cent live in India. Vision loss in children is associated with loss of access to education and depression, however, childhood blindness is preventable or treatable in at least 50 per cent of cases. 

The proposal

L V Prasad Eye Institute (LVPEI) is a centre of excellence in eye care services with a focus on extending equitable and efficient eye care to underserved populations through an integrated system of eye care from primary to advanced tertiary levels. 

The existing LVPEI network of eye care centres can examine 250,000-300,000 children per year and provide necessary treatment. LVPEI proposes to enhance these through enhancement of both quantity and quality through its Child Sight Institute which would include the existing network of LVPEI centres, establish better links with other existing eye care centres, train paediatric teams, and develop new centres and services in India and other developing countries. 

The funding

If LVPEI is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award the funding would support the enhancement of the capacity of the Child Sight Institute both within its network as well as for increasing the organisation’s capacity to assess and manage children’s eye care – replicating the model in other parts of India as well as other countries in the developing world.

Monash University

The World Mosquito Program: protecting 100 million people by 2023

Project location: Global
Organisation located: Australia

A self-sustaining, cost-effective, biological control solution to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne tropical diseases, The World Mosquito Program’s aim is to protect 100 million people by 2023. 

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The social need

Mosquito-borne tropical diseases such as dengue, Zika, chikungunya, and yellow fever affect billions of people, exacerbating poverty and hardship and impeding economic development. More than 40 per cent of the world's population live in areas that are vulnerable to these diseases. There are no widely used vaccines for these diseases, and preventive treatments such as spraying chemicals are ineffective and not long-lasting. 

The proposal

The World Mosquito Program, born out of a lab in Monash University, has developed a self-sustaining, cost-effective, biological control solution to prevent the spread of mosquito-borne tropical diseases. The intervention created reduces the mosquitoes' ability to transmit these viruses. 

Together with other secured grants, the funding would enable the World Mosquito Program to protect 100 million people by 2023, across 21 countries, 16 of which have some of the highest burdens of these diseases. It would also support the project sites to work with their respective governments towards national deployment. 

The funding

If Monash University is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award the funding would increase the World Mosquito Program’s presence to 16 countries which include nine new partnering countries and enable development on a large scale (100 million people protected by 2023). The funding would also drive cost reductions through the development of innovations in the delivery of the intervention to the point where it should be cost saving to governments to implement in the future.

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

World Scabies Elimination Program

Project location: Global
Organisation located: Australia

The World Scabies Elimination Program’s objective is to eliminate scabies and to alleviate suffering and disability caused by the disease, affecting 200 million people worldwide.

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The social need

Scabies is a debilitating skin condition caused by infestation with a highly contagious microscopic mite that burrows into the skin. It affects over 200 million people worldwide and is highly prevalent in the Asia-Pacific region and Indigenous communities in Australia. Children are affected more than any other age group. Scabies hampers economic growth and social inclusion of patients and their families and can lead to severe diseases causing premature deaths. 

The proposal

The Murdoch Children’s Research Institute has shown that oral medication, called ivermectin, is highly effective in treating scabies and reducing the prevalence of scabies. The organisation has developed The World Scabies Elimination Program with a central objective to translate this research into public health action to achieve scabies elimination and alleviate the suffering and disability caused by the disease. The proposal seeks to establish global partnerships between key support institutions and affected communities to develop and implement internationally endorsed guidelines for scabies control. 

The funding

If the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award the funding will be used to establish demonstration projects in Fiji and Solomon Islands to show that scabies can be eliminated as a public health problem at national scale. To achieve this, the projects will include purchase and supply of medications to treat 1.5 million people for two rounds of treatment and evaluate the results in each country. 

The funding will support the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute to establish the World Scabies Elimination Program and a global strategy for scabies elimination. The program will develop and disseminate internationally endorsed protocols and training materials for community-based treatment to achieve disease elimination.

Royal Far West

Delivering developmental and mental health services to Australia’s country kids

Project location: Australia
Organisation located: Australia

Providing children, families and teachers living in rural and remote Australian communities with health, education and disability services through a combination of residential, remote (via technology) and in-community programs.

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The social need

There is a growing need for psychology interventions in children and with over 300,000 children living in rural and remote areas of Australia, many lack the developmental and mental health support they need. People living in regional, rural and remote areas of Australia experience poorer access to assistance for physical and mental health problems than their metropolitan counterparts. 

The physical, emotional and social development attained in childhood often leads to long term outcomes in health, education and well-being. Delays or vulnerabilities are linked with poor educational outcomes, disability, mental health problems and a higher risk of unemployment, contact with the criminal justice system, and homelessness. 

The proposal

Royal Far West helps rural children, families, and educators to understand and respond to developmental challenges, mental health, intellectual disability, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and trauma. 

This proposal works towards the goal of establishing a National Paediatric Telecare Service that would deliver technology-assisted health, education and social care services to children living in rural and remote areas of Australia, overcoming barriers of affordability and remoteness. This service would enable children suffering or at risk of developing mental or emotional health issues to get the help they need in a timely manner. 

The funding

If Royal Far West is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award the funding would enable the organisation to scale up its current paediatric telecare model through investments in information systems and infrastructure, workforce, service delivery, and research.

Social Finance

Pay for Success: mobilising capital to drive social progress

Project location: United States of America
Organisation located: United States of America

Dedicated to mobilising capital to drive social progress, Social Finance aims to unlock $US1 billion of impact investment capital, building the first-ever evergreen investment fund focused on workforce development and helping underskilled and underemployed individuals achieve economic mobility.

Image credit: General Assembly

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The social need

The future of work, and the future for workers, is rapidly changing in the face of globalization and automation. Education and training beyond high school offers a pathway to the new economy, yet many low-income individuals struggle to access programs that would allow them to embark on sustainable careers.   

These barriers are compounded by tightened funding flows for workforce development: steady divestment of the public workforce system; minimal employer investment in training entry-level workers; limited philanthropic funding; and untapped capital markets. This creates a skills gap and perpetuates a cycle that leaves many under skilled and underemployed. 

The proposal

Social Finance mobilises capital to drive social progress. With this project, Social Finance aims to tap into $US1 billion of impact investment capital to finance initiatives that improve economic mobility. This project will build a new generation of Pay for Success deals, including Social Impact Bonds and Career Impact Bonds, through two initiatives: it will accelerate the existing pipeline of Pay for Success projects focused on economic opportunity and it will raise the first-ever evergreen investment fund focused on workforce development. 

The funding

If Social Finance is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award, the funding will support the development of 20-25 Pay for Success projects, which will reach an estimated 20,000-25,000 individuals over the life of the grant. The remaining funds will be used as seed capital for a $US50 million evergreen fund, which will sustainably recycle returns and unlock additional impact investment capital, ultimately benefitting hundreds of thousands of low-income Americans.

The Ocean Cleanup

Cleaning up the ocean’s plastic pollution 

Project location: Global
Organisation located: Netherlands 

Developing advanced technologies to rid the world's oceans of plastic, The Ocean Cleanup plans to remove half of the plastic in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch every five years after reaching full deployment and a long-term goal of ridding all oceans of 90 per cent of its plastic by 2040. 

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The social need

The UN considers the ocean plastic pollution problem to be one of the largest environmental threats, with more plastic entering the ocean every year. Ocean plastic pollution costs the global economy $US13 billion per year, particularly for tourism, fishing, and shipping industries, and it also threatens 1,220 species. 

Approximately 100 million kilograms of plastic has accumulated in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – by far the largest accumulation of trash in the world. Once stuck in this patch, the plastic will not go away by itself, and becomes more harmful over time, fragmenting into micro-plastics and threatening the food chain, including that of nearly half the human population. 

The proposal

The Ocean Cleanup develops advanced technology to clean the ocean, using the ocean forces to its advantage. Its autonomous, free-floating systems will move in a similar manner as plastic and naturally gravitate to the areas with the highest plastic concentration. The systems then catch, accumulate and retain the plastic, waiting for vessels to collect and bring ashore for recycling. 

This proposal is one of the most ambitious technology-integrated environmental solutions to a very topical issue – tackling plastic pollution in the ocean.

The funding

If The Ocean Cleanup is selected as a winner of the Macquarie 50th Anniversary Award the funding would be used to start the roll-out of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch fleet, with the design, development and deployment of ocean cleanup System 002 in 2019 and 2020. The Ocean Cleanup’s ambition is to reduce total ocean plastics by 90 per cent before 2040. Macquarie funding would contribute to this $A560 million project.