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What Does a Successful Humanitarian Challenge Look Like?

Learning from the EWB-USA “Chill Challenge”

The idea of using crowd-solving to solve big humanitarian problems is not exclusive to SeaFreight Labs. In September 2019, Engineers without Borders – USA (“EWB-USA”) issued a call for proposals to develop proof of concept prototypes for refrigerators and ice makers. They nicknamed this the “Chill Challenge”. On 24 June 2020, EWB-USA announced that they awarded grants of US$300,000 for further research and development on seven different technologies. These teams were selected from the forty-three proposals that were submitted.

As many as 2 billion people do not have access to reliable refrigeration, located primarily in communities without electricity access or in those with unreliable power. Refrigeration contributes to health and nutrition, provides economic opportunities for farmers and businesses, and reduces the burden on women.

The Chill Challenge is focused on affordability of the solution with a cost target well below existing refrigeration options. It also has a focus on community sources of refrigeration, rather than just smaller householder refrigerators.


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