Imagine: sharing ideas in the life sciences
is a school competition inviting life scientists to submit proposals for the application of a specific useful and affordable technology in a developing country. High school students (in groups of 2-5) set up a business plan for the proposal of their choice.
Imagine aims to:
-make young people aware of pressing issues around the globe and encourage them to take action
-show them what role life sciences can play in alleviating urgent problems in developing countries
-challenge life scientists to apply their expertise and tackle those problems
-implement valuable projects where they are most needed and build on existing capacities.
The students have at their disposal various activities during the year, which help them with their questions:
-hands-on experiments at the scientists' laboratories help the students to understand the scientific background of the project. After acquiring information from the internet and relevant publications and through discussions with their science teachers, the students perform relevant experiments and can pose their questions to the scientist directly.
-during a special 'knowledge-day', students have discussions with development-aid experts to get an idea of what it is like working in developing countries and which problems could be expected. The students familiarise themselves with concepts such as cultural relativity, participation and capacity building.
The students submit their plans in a report to a professional jury.
Only five groups are allowed to go the final in which the students present their plans to the audience of an international conference.
They receive support for their presentation during an instruction workshop, preparing them for a high-quality and attractive presentation. A promotional video, made in cooperation with an experienced movie producer, further supports their presentation. The prize, for the group with the best report and presentation, is a visit to the destination country where their project will actually be carried out.
Imagine has been running successfully in the Netherlands for three years now and there are currently plans to organise the project internationally.
To read more about the running competition: http://www.foundation-imagine.org
Winner Imagine 2004: Producing biodiesel from micro-algae in Mozambique
The winning project of the Imagine 2004 competition is currently being carried out. Biodiesel will be produced from algal oil and bio-ethanol in Mozambique. This biodiesel is environmentally friendly, CO2-neutral, fully renewable and readily usable in diesel combustion engines. The oil will be extracted from algae grown in an open system: a low-tech, 'raceway' growing pond. The project will contribute to current living standards in Mozambique by creating new agricultural activity (on saline land unfit for any other form of agriculture) and local employment, reducing dependence on fossil fuel imports and opening a new market for bio-ethanol produced locally from sugar cane.
Winner Imagine 2005: Avocado oil in the Dominican Republic
Last year's winning project will support local farmers in adding value to waste-avocados by producing oil from them. Avocados for American and European markets are picked unripe, while the ripe fruits are usually left behind. The project will put this 'waste' to use and provide a new source of income for the farmers working on the plantations. The plan is currently being worked out in detail: local contacts are being established and a detailed project proposal is now being prepared.