»Technology can overcome any obstacle when it is used to serve people and not profits.«

Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tweet

Technology for developing regions

Locally-adapted innovations with societal impact

Technology has the potential to solve global challenges to the benefit of everyone. We firmly believe in this idea at Siemens Stiftung and promote the use of technology in our work in underprivileged regions. In these areas, the right technologies improve basic services and create conditions for sustainable change.
The Barsha Pump waterwheel utilizes the energy of river current to pump water without electricity and at low costs.
GravityLight generates electricity simply by the pull of gravity. Lifting the weight provides about 20 minutes of light.
The BEMPU Hypothermia Alert Bracelet alerts a parent if the baby’s temperature drops and the baby becomes hypothermic.
OneDollarGlasses are affordable even for people with low income. After a brief training they can be locally produced with a bending device.
In areas where books are scarce, the digital library serves the critical need for quality educational materials.
ReMotion Knee is a prosthetic knee designed for amputees in developing countries to manage even rough terrain.
InSight is a simple mobile money management tool that enables micro-businesses to perform daily accounting via cell phone.
“Hardly any of the sustainability goals can be achieved without technological solutions,” says Iana Aranda, President of Engineering for Change (E4C). It’s true: all over the world, technological solutions are bringing about positive social, ecological, and economic change. Technological solutions in development collaboration must be tailored for people, their needs, and their abilities if they are to achieve truly long-lasting impact. The rise of individual and digital solutions makes big-picture, user-oriented thinking increasingly possible. These innovations are particularly important in rural areas when it comes to issues such as healthcare access, agriculture, or cashless payment.
The Siemens Stiftung follows the criteria developed by E4C for adapted technologies.
At Siemens Stiftung, we’re not necessarily interested in the most advanced technological innovations. Instead, we focus on the societal impact that technology can provide in a very specific environment. Both new innovations and technology that has been tried and tested for years can lead to significant improvements on a local level. For us, it is just as important that technology is used in a sustainable and environmentally-responsible manner, and that it provides a starting point for economic development in a community. Experience shows that technology carries a greater impact when it is optimally adapted to local conditions and does not create dependencies.

We support technological solutions in the following sectors:

  • Waste Management & Recycling
  • Education & Training
  • Energy
  • Food & Agriculture
  • Financial Technology
  • Healthcare
  • Information & Communication Technology
  • Water & Hygiene
© Siemens Stiftung

»Appropriate technologies are key to solutions for very remote and fragile areas where little or nothing exists in terms of basic infrastructure.«

We consider it our duty to find existing technologies – which are often developed locally – with the potential for sustainable development. Once identified, we work to expand their use and make them available for as many people as possible. In pursuit of this goal, networking and technology transfer are just as important as sharing expertise. Our own operative work focuses on sustainable energy and water supplies.

Scouting: How to find appropriate technology for developing regions

With our empowering people. Award (epA), we identify ingenious technological solutions that are fit for purpose: improving basic services for people in developing regions. In addition to a demonstratively useful technological innovation that helps people, it is important that the products and solutions have a locally-viable business model that creates jobs and provides people with long-term perspectives. Our international empowering people. Award jury has joined expert teams from development collaboration and technology to assess the societal impact of more than 1,600 solutions from all over the world based on a clear set of criteria. Around 80 of these are available in our database.

Spreading good ideas: adaption and knowledge transfer

Many locally-developed technologies also have the potential to improve living conditions in other places. Other technologies were specifically created by organizations with widespread implementation in mind. In any case, successful implementation in a new place requires local adaptation and sharing experiences. In workshops offered through our empowering people. Network, we provide points of contact for technology and knowledge transfer. We offer inventors of technological solutions opportunities to advance their organizations.

Operating projects in water and energy

Our hands-on experience stems from our work in the water and energy sectors, where we are involved in projects in East Africa and parts of Latin America. These involve practical, off-grid technologies that contribute to sustainable and environmentally-friendly water and energy supplies in small communities. We’ve learned that even the best technology is of little use without people who know how to implement it, which is why the community is the focus of every successful solution for projects such as the Safe Water Enterprises. We provide the community with the information needed to use and maintain the technology. The community itself is the most important part of the solution, acting as the source for ideas on how the technology is used or how it can be improved.


Background material

Burrell, J.: Material Ecosystems: Theorizing (Digital) Technologies in Socio-Economic Development,
Berkeley School of Information, 2016

“More than Water” on the concepts, methods, progress, and challenges of Safe Water Enterprises, 
Water Solutions, 2017


empowering people.Network:Low-tech Solutions Fight Hunger, 2018

Stay up to date!