Pioneers Festival probably evokes associations with “social software” rather than “social entrepreneurship” – after all, it’s a web and tech event. Still, social entrepreneurs Helioz managed to enter the race with their solar water disinfection system WADI – and came in as runner-up to the triumphant Poikos.
Out of a total of 850 applicants, Austrians Helioz were selected among the festival’s 50 finalists winning the second place at the Pioneers Festival Startup Challenge in Vienna last week (see our review of the festival here). Congratulations are on order. With the event’s web and tech focus, this is somewhat of a first.
“WADI targets the poorest countries in the world, it definitely needs to be within the low cost range”, explains co-founder Martin Wesian. “The main focus is to provide an easy to use, inexpensive and self-sufficient solution for water disinfection. For instance, when a potential investor wanted to reduce the durability of the device from five to two years, negotiations came to halt.”
Although Helioz’s WADI is not new to awards, counting the Energy Globe Award amongst its distinctions, the Pioneers experience was “incredibly useful” for Helioz, as Michael Wesian tells inventures.eu
With a social enterprise asserting itself as runner-up of the Pioneers Festival Challenge, inventures.eu wonders whether this could mean that a greater convergence of the web and tech with the social entrepreneurship scene is taking place. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising: As the Harvard Business Review points out, “a new generation of social entrepreneurs is using mobile devices and the web to address pressing problems“.