Carola Schwank*, why does technology play such a major role for the Siemens Stiftung? What is here the difference to the Siemens Company?
The Siemens Stiftung wants to enable people to actively face up to social challenges. In this respect, we also consider technology to be a possible solution for supply deficits and we’re working in the field of providing basic supplies and services using adapted technologies, although these are not our only lever. Financially and socially sustainable concepts are at least equally decisive!
But yes, we want to use this competition and the knowledge transfer platform to help more people to be able to benefit from the positive effects of technologies. It’s not about large versus small, but about togetherness, about pooling, or interweaving the technological knowledge that is available and putting it to use for the sustainable development of the world we live in. The chief engineer of Siemens makes an important contribution to this; so too, though, does the hobby inventor in Uganda who succeeds in constructing useful solutions for his community. Development aid organizations can use their experience to make just as much of a contribution as research departments at universities can. Nobody should be excluded from this, because only together can we overcome the challenges we currently face. For this reason, developers from major companies who have developed something that can have a role to play in the DC environment are also explicitly invited to take part in the competition.
However, the Siemens Stiftung’s understanding of technology differs quite considerably from that of the company. Whereas Siemens AG devotes its attention to industrial solutions, the Siemens Stiftung works together with communities in developing countries who have no access whatsoever to technology and focus more on low-end solutions. So we concentrate fully on our non-profit obligation and aim to find solutions which help those who are socially vulnerable and disadvantaged. We can only achieve this in partnership with others. This is precisely why we also want to make our results and ideas accessible to the public so that as many foundations, NGOs, and social entrepreneurs as possible can benefit from them. Of course, IP-relevant data remains exclusively with the inventors.
*Carola Schwank is Project Manager of the “empowering people. Award” at the Siemens Stiftung (foundation).