Five young visionaries from Africa, India, Europe and the Middle East were announced at London’s leading scientific institution, the Royal Society, as winners of the 2014 Rolex Awards for Enterprise.
This year’s Young Laureates – aged 30 and under – impress by both their leadership qualities and in their ability to harness technology in an original way to improve the well-being of the community and the environment, as well as to advance scientific knowledge.
The five Young Laureates were chosen by an international Jury of eight eminent experts who reviewed a shortlist from among 1,800 applicants from all over the world. The Laureates will each receive 50,000 Swiss francs to advance their projects.
* Neeti Kailas, 29, India – aims to vastly increase screening of new-born babies for hearing loss, through an inexpensive, easy-to-use device, and to set up an associated network of health-care professionals in India who can diagnose or treat deafness.
* Olivier Nsengimana, 30, Rwanda – is promoting breeding programmes and the release of Rwanda’s captive, endangered grey crowned-cranes. The iconic bird, a symbol of wealth and longevity in Rwanda, is a victim of its own beauty, and is often kept as a pet.
* Francesco Sauro, 29, Italy – is exploring the vast quartzite caves of South America’s fabled table top mountains on the border of Venezuela and Brazil, making discoveries of unique worlds that have evolved in isolation over millennia.
* Arthur Zang, 26, Cameroon – has invented what is believed to be Africa’s first medical tablet, which will allow health-care workers in rural areas to send the results of cardiac tests to heart specialists via a mobile-phone connection.
* Hosam Zowawi, 29, Saudi Arabia – is developing rapid tests to detect the presence of antibiotic resistant bacteria, now considered a global threat to human health. He also plans a regional public campaign warning of the dangers of the overuse and misuse of antibiotics.
“After a record number of young applicants this year, we are proud to announce the winners and to support these individuals in developing their inspiring work,” says Rebecca Irvin, head of Philanthropy at Rolex.
“The five Young Laureates and their projects clearly demonstrate a strong spirit of enterprise and leadership. This year’s Jury was particularly impressed with the practical approach each is taking to solve real-world problems. They are certainly role models whose stories Rolex is pleased to bring to the world.”
The Rolex Awards for Enterprise were initiated in 1976 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Oyster chronometer, the world’s first waterproof watch and a symbol of the innovation that the Awards programme supports.
The programme recognises enterprising men and women who are using their talents and initiative to change the world in five broad areas: science and health, applied technology, the environment, exploration and discovery, and cultural heritage.
In 2010, the first Awards devoted to Young Laureates honoured resourceful young men and women at a critical juncture in their careers. In addition to the prise money, the Young Laureates receive recognition of their projects through an international media campaign, access to the community of former Rolex Laureates and Jury members, and a Rolex chronometer.