Milken-Motsepe Prize Program Advancing Sustainable Solutions

The Milken Institute and the Motsepe Foundation announced the recipients of the Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy, a $2 million competition aimed at recognizing entrepreneurs working to enhance access to reliable, affordable, and sustainable off-grid electricity in Africa. The announcement took place at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Los Angeles.

Aftrak, an initiative based in the UK and Malawi, received the $1 million Grand Prize for its easily assembled solar microgrid and custom-designed tractors. These innovations have significantly increased agricultural yield, boosted farmer incomes, and provided electricity to remote communities. The runner-up prize of $250,000 was awarded to OMNIVAT, based in South Africa, for its containerized electricity generation and storage system. This system delivers clean water, clean energy, and Wi-Fi enriched by virtual reality support to remote communities.

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in Green Energy is part of the Milken–Motsepe Innovation Prize Program, a series of global innovation competitions and awards aimed at advancing technological progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The inaugural competition in this program, the Milken–Motsepe Prize in AgriTech, launched in 2021, focused on addressing the goals of poverty reduction and zero hunger.

The selection process began in November 2022, with hundreds of entrepreneurs from 79 countries registering to compete. Among them, 160 submitted technological designs and business models. In June 2023, an independent panel of expert judges selected 20 semi-finalists to receive $20,000 each to develop and test their innovations.

The judging process rigorously evaluated each team’s innovation, focusing on its potential to deliver 60 kilowatt hours of off-grid electricity within 24 hours using sustainable sources. Five teams advanced to the Finalist Round, each receiving an additional $70,000 to develop their innovations and showcase them in live demonstrations in partnership with Stellenbosch University in South Africa.

Dr. Precious Moloi-Motsepe, co-founder and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation, expressed admiration for the teams’ dedication and innovative solutions to address Africa’s challenges. She congratulated the Green Energy winners and all finalists, expressing confidence in their potential to bring their technologies to market successfully.

The third Milken-Motsepe Prize, focused on FinTech, was launched at the 2024 Milken Institute Global Conference. This prize aims to recognize companies leveraging cutting-edge technologies to enhance access to capital and financial services for small businesses in emerging and frontier markets. The prize offers $2 million in total, with a $1 million Grand Prize for the winning company. Registration is open until August 6.

FinTech’s transformative potential lies in its ability to empower individuals to start and expand businesses, particularly in remote communities. By reducing transaction costs, streamlining processes, and broadening access to capital and financial services, FinTech can enable aspiring entrepreneurs to realize their ideas.

The Milken-Motsepe Prize in FinTech seeks to harness FinTech solutions to promote financial inclusion and contribute to key SDGs, including poverty alleviation, human well-being, gender equality, and economic opportunities for young people.

Dr. Emily Musil Church, senior director of environmental and social innovation at the Milken Institute, emphasized the broader impact of the Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prizes, stating that they foster a global community of entrepreneurs committed to building a better, more sustainable world.

The Milken-Motsepe Innovation Prize Program is part of MI Philanthropy’s efforts to direct philanthropic capital toward creating positive change. MI Philanthropy’s initiatives include the Science Philanthropy Accelerator for Research and Collaboration (SPARC), which has influenced over $2 billion in medical research funding to date.

Leave a reply