The goal of this biennial prize is to recognise the industrial design driven solutions that are attempting to address societal challenges. All of this year’s seven shortlisted projects demonstrate how design is used as a tool to improve social, economic and environmental quality of life for people around the world.

“The world’s growing economies are looking for solutions in many areas and the submissions for the World Design Impact Prize can meet these needs,” states Dr Brandon Gien, Icsid president.

Of the 26 entries submitted from 15 countries, the inaugural Icsid international Review Panel whittled the nominations down to just seven. This diverse volunteer group – consisting of two practicing industrial designers, an ethnographer and an educator – generated the shortlist based on the project’s use of industrial design but more importantly their focus on social wellbeing.

For instance, the initial spark of the Leveraged Freedom Chair (LFC) concept came from the realisation that in rural areas people with disabilities can not get around very easily as wheelchairs are not that mobile over rough terrain. Initially developed in the Mobility Lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the thinking behind LFC was instead of users pushing on the wheels, they push down two levers instead.

Product design agency Continuum collaborated with the Mobility Lab to envision the next generation of the LFC creating a modern looking concept to explore the different implementations of the technology, specifically for western markets. Since then the MIT team formed a social enterprise, GRIT (Global Research Innovation & Technology) to bring the LFC to market in developing countries and production of this version is currently underway in India.

The other six remaining projects include the ABC (A Behaviour Changing) Syringe to combat the reuse of disposable syringes, the BioLite HomeStove to reduce toxic indoor smoke, Family By Family to provide a network of families who can help other families, the Laddoo Project to address the issue of children in India dying from malnutrition (all pictured above), Potty Project to enable households in India to retrofit toilets to their homes and, lastly, the Refugee Housing Unit to design better refugee shelter (pictured below).

The public have until 20 December to cast their vote and choose which project they think will make the biggest impact for the better.

“We are looking for design that is innovative, that is breaking new ground in the field, that leads to progress, and advances the profession of design” said Icsid senator and chair of the Review Panel, Dr Mark Breitenberg. “We are looking for the project that has the greatest impact and is thinking about design as a way to solve problems. We want the winner of the prize to plant a seed, and showcase a lot of the extraordinary work that is being done in humanitarian design around the world.”

The three finalists will be announced on 24 January 2014 and awarded at the World Design Capital International Design Gala taking place in Cape Town, South Africa, during February.

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