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Techolab announces winners in its debut competition (Part 2 of 2)

Editors Note: This is Part 2 of a 2 part post. Part 1 introduces Techolab, Latin America’s Largest Open and Social Innovation Platform.


Techolab, Latin America’s largest open and social innovation network and incubator has successfully completed its first contest ‘Desafío Clave’ (Key Challenge),  sponsored by INJUV. Three winners, selected out of a pool of nearly 800 applicants, walked away with $60,000 USD each to further research and build out their respective projects.

Managed by Un Techo Para’s Chile Center for Innovation, each quarter, Techolab brings a unique competition to Chile, which is intended to engage and motivate young people to participate in the development innovative solutions to the problems affecting the most vulnerable of our society. In its first few months of inception, 8,000 members have registered for Techolab’s virtual open and social innovation platform.

The first Techolab contest, ‘Desafío Clave’ (Key Challenge), launched in collaboration with INJUV sought to create solutions in the areas of health, education and job creation, for Chile’s most vulnerable part of the population. The challenge received nearly 800 applicants and after 5 months, hundreds of hours of mentoring and rapid prototyping, 3 co-winners remained.

Hosted at Matucana 100 in Santiago, Chile, the awards ceremony brought together a full house including representatives from Chile’s public and private sectors along with long time supporters of the work of Un Techo Para Chile.  At the end of the evening, three co-winners all received the same amount of prize money, approximately $60,000 USD to further develop their project and bring it to market and/or try to scale it. The winning projects were:

Proyecto Importa

(Inmates re-entering into society)

Team: Monserrat Flores and Natalia Yañez

I liked this project a lot, not only because of their integration of design, which is often overlooked here in Chile, but also because it touches upon another huge issue, manufacturing! Chile has many natural resources in agriculture, timber/forestry and mining, but unfortunately they don’t finish products, thus cutting off many jobs and money that can be recycled back into their economy.

Proyecto Importa is the brainchild of Upa!studio by Monserrat Flores and Natalia Yañez, two Industrial Designers who studied at Diego Portales University (Chile). They teach sustainable design and manufacturing of furniture, art and accessories to prison inmates.

We already have companies and organizations interested in marketing and exporting the products generated in this project to different countries” stated Yañez.

Their team also consists of a sociologist who helps inmates adjust to re-entering into society and the workforce. Their work has been well received by shops, museums and art galleries in Chile and they have built up an ecosystem of companies who would be open to hiring the inmates after they have been released from prison.

Proyecto Importa on Facebook  / Techolab


(Ecological Bathrooms)

Team: Pablo Schele, Diego Pizarro, Sebastián Pérez and Matías Irles

Launched out of UTFSM (Chile’s leading technological university) after the February 27, 2010 earthquake, BIS is a comprehensive, ‘integrated’ and ‘sustainable’ bathroom built with complimentary technology. The project was created after one of the founding partners did an internship at an eco-school. After the internship he was invited to participate in GEA (alternative energy generation). His team’s first project produced out of this program was a dry bath and in the process of improving its functionality, BIS was born.

BIS is constructed using simple, fast, inexpensive methods and readily available materials on the market. It incorporates natural and LED lighting, a composting toilet, solar pond water warms and feeds a sink and shower, which in turn drains into a biofilter that treats and returns water suitable for irrigation. In the future they are looking to expand BIS beyond the slums and into rural areas of Latin America where they believe similar challenges exist.

BIS on Facebook / Techolab

Huertos Urbanos Sociales

(Social Urban Gardens)

Team: Claudia Barriga and Pablo Sepúlveda

I think Claudia’s mom (and/or her largest investor, jejeje) was sitting behind us at the awards ceremony. She was really cute and very emotional, standing up yelling her head off and getting her neighbors around her excited as well. And note – this all happened before Claudia was announced as an award winner!!! So sweet.

Huertos Urbanos Sociales (Social Urban Gardens) was created to bring about change in social development and green areas in vulnerable housing projects, such as the ones managed by Un Techo Para Chile (UTPCH). The project seeks to use urban agriculture techniques as a tool for alleviating food shortages, educational, economic, aesthetic and recreational suffering from these sectors. The gardens also serve as an option for development through the implementation of agricultural systems in urban spaces to diversify and improve the quality of the diet of communities, reduce the cost of the basket and encourage the development of micro-businesses.

Huertos Urbanos Sociales on Facebook / Techolab / Canvis / Twitter


Muchas felicidades y éxito continuo para todos!

pd. Big love for María Paz Cuadra G. at Un Techo Para Chile for helping us to assimilate information for this post.