The Edison Awards, named after Thomas Alva Edison, recognises and honours the world’s best innovators and innovations.
Arrow Electronics and nonprofit We Care Solar have won a 2019 Edison Award for We Care Solar Suitcase 3.0, a portable and durable power system that provides sustainable energy for around-the-clock, effective obstetric care in remote and off-grid maternal health facilities around the world.
Worldwide, more than one billion people live without electricity – and 300,000 women die in childbirth, often turned away from health centres that lack power.
We Care Solar is a nonprofit that has teamed with Arrow to ensure women have access to safe childbirth in well-lit health facilities and equip medical providers with the power to save lives.
Arrow offered to help improve the Solar Suitcase, a sun-powered, waterproof, compact system that includes medical-quality lighting, a foetal monitor, rechargeable headlamps, and cell phone charging for remote health workers to make emergency referrals.
For clinic installations, the yellow case becomes a cabinet that mounts to the wall, and the panels are secured to the roof. The system includes high-efficiency LED medical task lighting, a universal cell phone charger, a battery charger for AAA or AA batteries, and outlets for 12V DC devices. The basic system comes with 40 or 80 watts of solar panels, and a 12 amp-hour lithium ferrous phosphate battery. The maternal health kit includes a foetal doppler with rechargeable batteries. An expansion kit is available that provides additional lights and a switch-box.
To optimise We Care Solar’s lifesaving technology solution, Arrow helped create a lower cost, more powerful design that is now easier to manufacture at scale, install and operate. Each unit is expected to work for at least five years before requiring a simple battery replacement. Extensive field testing is continuing in Uganda, and expanded manufacturing in the United States is planned for 2019.
All nominations were reviewed by the Edison Awards Steering Committee and the final ballot sent to an independent judging panel. The judging panel was comprised of more than 3,000 professionals from the fields of product development, design, engineering, science, marketing and education, including professional organizations representing a wide variety of industries and disciplines.