On Tuesday, July 16, the top seven teams of the CUNY Design for UNICEF Challenge gathered in Labouisse Hall at UNICEF NYHQ, with only four minutes to pitch their innovative project ideas. At stake: the chance to be named the winners of the inaugural year of the Challenge, and travel to a UNICEF Country Office to conduct further research and field-testing with end-users.

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Top seven teams participating in the final pitch-style competition at UNICEF.

The Challenge launched in March with 45 student teams from 15 CUNY colleges tackling the key bottlenecks to child survival. During the next four months, the teams were connected to UNICEF’s global network of experts and resources for guidance and support, and invested a total of approximately 3,000 hours into developing their projects.

The three winning teams were selected by a panel of expert judges comprised of UNICEF colleagues and faculty from CUNY and NYU. The teams demonstrated a creative problem solving approach and design process that has the potential to evolve and positively impact UNICEF programming in the field.

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Three winning teams: A Bridge to Pure Water, Creative Solutions, and In Her Hands.

The winners are:

1st place – A Bridge to Pure Water, from College of Staten Island, developed a photo-catalytic film that increases the efficiency of water purification. The film can be inserted into a plastic bottle, where it reacts with sunlight to inactivate bacteria. 

2nd place – Creative Solutions, from Macaulay Honors College and Baruch College, proposed to strategically introduce oral iron supplements in the form of a hard candy through community-based organizations and partnerships with local universities.

3rd place – In Her Hands, from Macaulay Honors College, proposed a platform for maternal health education that integrates social and economic opportunity through a mentor-mother model.

To learn more about the winning projects and teams, click here.

An honorable mention was given to QC Engineering Brigade of Queens College for their invention of PedalPure, an open-source, modular water-purification system that uses bicycle power.

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Members of QC Engineering Brigade demonstrate the technology behind their bicycle-powered water-filtration system.

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Third place winners, In Her Hands, take a question from a fellow student and competitor. 

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The judging panel, from left to right: Christopher Fabian, Co-lead of UNICEF Innovation Unit; Jorge Just, Adjunct Professor at NYU/ITP and founder of RapidFTR; Paul Russo, Director of Online Programs at the CUNY School of Professional Studies; Arnold Timmer, Senior Adviser at UNICEF Nutrition Section; and Emily Bamford, Sanitation and Hygiene Officer at UNICEF WASH Section.

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Gillian Small, CUNY Vice Chancellor of Research, congratulates members of the winning team, A Bridge to Pure Water. 

Written by Mima Stojanovic, CUNY Design for UNICEF Challenge Project Lead, and Norah Maki, CUNY Design for UNICEF Challenge Project Assistant.

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