Arrow Electronics and nonprofit We Care Solar won the 2019 Edison Award for Social Innovation for its joint development of Solar Suitcase 3.0, a portable and durable power system that provides sustainable energy for around-the-clock, effective obstetric care in remote and off-grid maternal health facilities around the world.
The Solar Suitcase was selected over other finalists in the category of Humanitarian Technology. Worldwide, more than one billion people live without electricity – and 300,000 women die in childbirth, often turned away from health centers that lack power.
We Care Solar is a nonprofit that has teamed with Arrow to ensure women have access to safe childbirth in well-lit health facilities and equip medical providers with the power to save lives.
Arrow offered to help improve the Solar Suitcase, a sun-powered, waterproof, compact system that includes medical-quality lighting, a fetal monitor, rechargeable headlamps, and cell phone charging for remote health workers to make emergency referrals.
To optimise We Care Solar’s lifesaving technology solution, Arrow helped create a lower cost, more powerful design that is now easier to manufacture at scale, install and operate. Each unit is expected to work for at least five years before requiring a simple battery replacement.
Extensive field testing is continuing in Uganda, and expanded manufacturing in the United States is planned for 2019.
“Having the light changed the lives of the health workers and the patients. It changed everything,” said Maimuna Muye, a Nigerian midwife.
All nominations were reviewed by the Edison Awards Steering Committee and the final ballot sent to an independent judging panel. The judging panel was comprised of more than 3,000 professionals from the fields of product development, design, engineering, science, marketing and education, including professional organizations representing a wide variety of industries and disciplines.
The Edison Awards, named after Thomas Alva Edison, recognise and honour the world’s best innovators and innovations. This year marks the 32nd year the Edison Universe organisation has recognised technology innovation in categories ranging from medical advancements to building materials.
The Edison Award winners were announced at a ceremony in New York.