British companies showcase aid solutions at AidEx 2012
A number of British companies - including some involved in providing defence and security solutions - were today showcasing products and services relevant to disaster response and the delivery of humanitarian aid and development, at the AidEx event being held in Brussels (24-25 October 2012).
A number of British companies perhaps more familiar to those in the defence and security sector were showcasing their solutions on the UK pavilion, hosted by UK Trade & Investment (UKTI), which are relevant to emergency response situations. They included BAE Systems, Babcock, Lifesaver and Hov Pod with its small, robust, lightweight hovercraft.
Above: Hov Pods are far stronger and more buoyant than glass fibre hovercraft models and are therefore able to carry greater weight. They are also ideal for search and rescue missions, particularly in flood situations where the use of helicopters may be limited.
Other companies perhaps not so familiar included two which were part of the event's Aid Innovation Challenge, designed to help find new ideas for products and services for the humanitarian aid and development sector.
Demonstrating their innovative products were FASTAP, with the first ever folding tapstand and Pure Hydration with its small lightweight water purifying Thirst Aid Bag. They were among other finalists including the Solar Muscle, a small, cheap portable solar lighting system from Flexiway Solar Solutions and the winner, the Portable Solar Led Lantern - JS30 MOB.
The judging panel included Trevor Baylis, best known for his invention of the wind-up radio in 1991 that communicated the danger of AIDS across Africa and Michael Pritchard, Managing Director of Lifesaver Systems and inventor of the Lifesaver bottle: which he was inspired to invent after seeing the tragic waste of life and serious problems caused by the lack of safe drinking water in the wake of the tsunami in December 2004 and after Hurricane Katrina hit Louisiana the following year (subsequently used in humanitarian emergencies and by the British Army).
Above: The Lifesaver bottle has a proven track record in use with the British Army.
Inventor and award judge Trevor Baylis said: “Compared to last year, I definitely appreciated the same quality, but I really liked the novelty aspect of the products this year, their uniqueness, and also the way finalists have presented them.”
Michael said: "Humanitarian emergencies are inevitable but in a world of seven billion people innovation in aid is key. AidEx’s celebration of innovation in aid underlines the complicated but necessary need for innovation in this area.
"The lantern deserved the prize because it meets the needs of the community it's being designed for. And it represents a good transition from a traditional lamp into a technological device. The candidate has thought about water proofing, overall design, theft risks, and has finally taken advantage to incorporate a mobile phone charger! The great asset is the cost: it's affordable, at a good price point."
AidEx is the only event of its kind taking place in Europe for buyers and suppliers of humanitarian and development aid - featuring an exhibition, conference and practical workshops - and has been created with direct input from major NGOs. Companies exhibiting at the show that have been involved in the aid and development sector for some time include: Mabey Bridge, Castell Satcom Radio, Conrico International Ltd, Track24, TSS International BV, Tyron Developments Ltd, Barrett Communications, Toyota Gibraltar Stockholdings Ltd and Immarsat.