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Innovators from developing countries have been honoured by The Tech Museum of Innovation in the United States.

The Tech Awards recognised the health, environmental, educational, equality and economic development innovations of 25 laureates from around the world. Each laureate will be awarded a cash prize of US$50,000 at the annual Awards Gala in San Jose, United States, next month (12 November).

Projects in six developing countries ­­— Egypt, India, Laos, Namibia, Peru and Senegal ­— were recognised.

Peter Friese, president of the Tech Museum, says the awards were founded in the spirit of the UN Millennium Report, to inspire innovators around the world to invent technology to meet the needs of developing countries.

"Our goal is to make these innovators more successful to do their work and to reach more people and to make the world a better place," he adds. 

Practical Action from Lima, Peru, received the Intel Environment Award for its innovative system for the construction of low-cost, locally built micro-hydropower systems for people living in remote areas of Peru.

Teodoro Sanchez, energy technology and policy advisor with Practical Action, says more than 40 micro-hydropower schemes now provide power for 6,000 families living in the mountains and jungles of Peru.

"[The award] gives us confidence that we are doing the right thing," says Sanchez, adding that the Tech Awards can help Practical Action raise their profile in South America and other parts of the developing world.

Sunlabob in Laos also received an environment award for their solar charging stations that provide cheap electric power and lighting to villagers in rural areas in Laos and other developing countries (see Laos sunshine turns villagers green).

Simon Henschel, project manager with Sunlabob, says there is demand all over the world for sustainable energy systems.

He stresses that their projects come from rural areas and where they generate an income. "The other part is the social system around it and only both of these things together can make success," says Henschel.

Other winning projects include a de-husker for a type of grain common in West Africa, a biomass processing plant in Namibia, biomass gasification plants to supply electric power in India, and sustainable building projects in Egypt and Algeria.