On Monday 25 June 2012, in a complex of buildings in The Hague, great minds gathered to talk about ten groundbreaking ideas coming out of the Netherlands. At a design centre in Cape Town at the same time, a crowd of local innovators gathered to listen in via livestream, and consider these ideas in the context of Africa. Here are five of ten phenomenal ideas from TEDxBinnenhof that caught our attention.
1. How not to flush away a future goldmine
The value of the minerals, fibres and nutrients in our city's sewage could change the way it is treated after it is flushed and forgotten about, says Charlotte van Erp Taalman Kip, an innovative technologist at Waterschap Hollandse Delta. Watch Charlotte explain her vision to develop a viable business case to retrieve and reuse the raw material from our waste water by retrofitting waste water treatment facilities to produce clean water, energy, bio-plastics, hydrogen, ethanol, cellulose as well as fertiliser.
2. How to get better at transporting food
You don’t need to be a market analyst to feel the consumer price index digging deeper into your pocket. As cities often source food from far and wide, transport and storage costs are often included in the retail price. How can we help companies and governments understand that IT innovation can make international trade more efficient, secure and sustainable – and therefore also cheaper for everyone? Watch ICT specialist Professor Yoa-Hua Tan present a new idea to decrease the time and material costs of border controls through better logistics.
3. How to make print more interactive
Imagine being able to pan your smartphone's camera over a magazine page and through augmented reality be able to buy something featured on the page. And, by doing the same to a school text book, access related videos or tutorials tagged to the content on the page. Layar, a cellphone technology built on the ability to directly monetise printed content, can bring educational material to life at the touch of a button. Listen to Claire Boonstra explain the potential of Layar functionality, already being used by 3-million people globally.
4. How to access drinking water in rural areas
Drilling a borehole for drinking water can be expensive and is often an impossible task for poor, rural communities. The challenge to come up with a solution that is cheap, simple to use, durable and easily transported was taken on by engineer Floris de Vos while recovering from an injury in hospital. Bringing a modern twist to the percussion drilling technique used by the Romans, he invented the Floflo, a do-it-yourself drilling unit tripod. The foundation Holland Water Goes Africa has set up a company to distribute the product and train Kenyan and Tanzanian communities in its use. Watch Floris explain how this innovation can transform people's lives.
5. How to convert ocean currents into electricity
How can the power of the ocean be converted to an endless supply of electricity? Allard van Hoeken is an expert in tidal energy and views it as the most predictable form of renewable energy. Converting and transmitting the energy in a cost-effective manner while ensuring that the floating powerplants survive the ocean's temper is Allard's challenge at Bluewater Energy Services. Watch Allard's TEDx talk to see the concept expounded.
For more innovative ideas worth spreading, head to the TEDx - independently organised TED events - that are happening soon in Cape Town (21 July) and Stellenbosch (10 August). Find out more and book your spot: TEDxCape Town: What we play is life TEDxStellenbosch: What if Africa?
Featured image: Claire Boonstra during her TEDx presentation, courtesy of TEDxBinnenhof