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Challenge Medical Waste Incinerator for Humanitarian Emergencies
Medical Waste Incinerator for Humanitarian Emergencies
STATUS: Awarded
Active Solvers: 566
Posted: Sep 03 2015
Challenge ID: 9933340
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In humanitarian emergencies such as flooding, epidemics, and conflicts, there is a rapid demand for health facilities and therefore also for medical waste management. Temporary burners or small-scale incinerators are usually constructed to deal with the burnable medical waste. However these incinerators often don’t reach sufficiently high temperatures for the necessary duration, are inefficient in terms of fuel consumption and heat retention, and have short lifespans. The higher performing designs can be difficult to construct and operate without specially trained workers, or specialized materials/parts that can take time to source. The Seeker desires a simple, efficient, and durable incinerator that is safe to operate and affordable in low-middle income countries. The design must be lightweight and easy to transport and assemble, or built on-site with accessible skills and materials.  

This Challenge requires only a written proposal.


Humanitarian challenges globally are growing in frequency and complexity, and innovative solutions are needed to support affected communities during the acute phases of an emergency such as flooding, earthquakes, epidemics, armed conflicts, and displacement. 

Medical waste management is a key concern during such emergencies. Temporary burners and small-scale incinerators are constructed to deal with the rapidly growing medical waste. Often these are made from oil drums and other easily accessible materials. Beyond the acute phase humanitarian workers try to construct more durable incinerators, but these are often limited by the availability of trained staff, and ability to source specific materials/parts such as heat-resistant cement or bricks. 

As seen in the recent Ebola outbreak, these solutions can be ineffective and humanitarian workers are concerned about factors such as disinfection capacity, volume reduction, operation and maintenance, sustainability, and environmental pollution. Exposure to medical waste poses a significant human health risk. Direct contact may result in transmission of infectious diseases and improper disposal of these hazardous materials may lead to pollution of the environment and drinking water.  

A higher performing alternative solution is urgently needed to burn medical waste in humanitarian settings. The Seeker desires a simple, efficient, and durable incinerator that is safe to operate and affordable. The solution must meet specific temperature and fuel requirements. The solution would either need to be lightweight and easy to transport and assemble in an emergency context, or a simple design that can built on-site easily with basic skills and locally accessible materials. 

Submissions to this Challenge must be received by 11:59 PM (US Eastern Time) on November 4, 2015. Late submissions will not be considered

This is a Theoretical Challenge that requires only a written proposal to be submitted. The Challenge award will be contingent upon theoretical evaluation of the proposal by the Seeker.

To receive an award, Solvers will not be required to transfer their exclusive IP rights to the Seeker. Instead, Solvers will grant to the Seeker a non-exclusive license to practice their solutions. The Seeker may choose to sub-license the solution to a third party for manufacturing and development.

Up to 3 awards of $5,000 will be given to the best submissions as solely determined by the Seeker. An additional award of $15,000 may be paid to a Solver whose design concept is ready for and capable of being reduced to practice (a prototype that can be tested) by the Seeker in collaboration with partner humanitarian agencies. 

Submissions will be assessed by a panel of experts in the humanitarian sector, including representatives from leading agencies such as Médecins Sans Frontières and Oxfam. At the conclusion of the Challenge the winning Solvers will all be announced on the Humanitarian Innovation Fund’s website. The winning Solvers will be invited to participate in an Incinerator Innovation Workshop in which designs will be installed and tested in a simulated emergency context. Additionally the winning Solvers will be given the opportunity to work closely with humanitarian agencies to improve and implement the solution.


The Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) supports organizations and individuals to identify, nurture, and share innovative and scalable solutions to the challenges facing effective humanitarian assistance. HIF is a landmark grant-making fund and represents a collective effort to enhance the contribution of innovation to improving operational humanitarian performance at the field level. Water, hygiene and sanitation (WASH) challenges are a thematic priority for the fund, and this work is supported by a Technical Working Group of academics and leading practitioners who are actively engaged in humanitarian activities.

What is InnoCentive?
InnoCentive is the global innovation marketplace where creative minds solve some of the world's most important problems for cash awards up to $1 million. Commercial, governmental and humanitarian organizations engage with InnoCentive to solve problems that can impact humankind in areas ranging from the environment to medical advancements.

What is a Theoretical-Licensing Challenge?

An InnoCentive Theoretical Challenge builds upon an idea but is not yet a proof of concept. A solution to a Theoretical Challenge will solidify the Solver's concept with detailed descriptions, specifications and requirements necessary to bringing a good idea closer to becoming an actual product or service.

This Challenge is a Theoretical-Licensing Challenge, meaning that the Seeker is requesting non-exclusive rights to use the winning solution. By contrast, Theoretical-IP Transfer means that Solvers must relinquish all rights to the Intellectual Property (IP) for which they are awarded. For these forms of a Theoretical Challenge, Solvers that do not win retain the rights to their solution after the evaluation period is complete. The Seeker retains no rights to any IP not awarded.

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