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Live from Skoll World Forum 2015

With so much going on at the 2015 Skoll World Forum, it's impossible to participate in everything. Our bloggers are sitting in on many of the exciting sessions at this year's event. Read their concise notes and observations to catch up on important discussions you may have missed.


FORUM2015: Three Partnerships Using Technology to Scale Social Impact

FORUM2015: Three Partnerships Using Technology to Scale Social Impact

April 19, 2015 | 4303 views

FRI, APRIL 17, 2015; 13:15 – 14:30

A Technology-Based Approach to Scaling Impact

Can technology companies play a significant role in advancing the work of social entrepreneurs? Moderated by Noah Manduke (President, Durable Good), this panel provided insights into successful technology partnerships and methods to cultivate these relationships.

Developing tech partnerships outside a limited set of socially-conscious tech companies (Google, Facebook, etc.) continues to be a challenge as most tech people don’t speak the same language as social entrepreneurs and don’t understand the core issues. However, the environment is improving; engineers are increasingly excited about using their expertise for social change and doing things that matter.

Given the limited number of technology companies to partner with this at this stage, nonprofits should engage on a one-to-one basis with a very specific idea of what they hope to accomplish that is exciting to the engineering teams.

Panelists presented three unique and effective tech partnerships:

Palantir and Verite

Jason Payne (Philanthropy Engineering Lead, Palantir) and Dan Viederman (Executive Director, Verite) explained how Verite was trying to analyze the supply chains of large consumer electronics companies and needed a data-driven solution to fully understand where human rights abuses occur.

Recommended: Tech Partnerships : Essential Impact Accelerators

Palantir has provided their technology platform and resources in order to build a comprehensive map of an entire supply chain and use data analytics to better understand which sub-contractors are engaged in unethical practices. As a consequence, Verite has been able to provide a convincing solution to large global companies who seek high-quality, ethical supply chains.

Google and Imazon

Rebecca Moore (Engineering Manager, Google Earth) and Carlos Souza (Senior Researcher, Imazon) described how Imazon wanted to make key stakeholders aware of the seriousness of the deforestation issue in Brazil, but faced a big challenge in disseminating game-changing information with the ability to create social impact.

Google was able to use its Earth application and technological resources to produce a cloud-free image of forests in Brazil (using filters & multiple satellite images). Google was able to do in one and a half days what would have taken 300 years otherwise.

Imazon is now able to detect and prove deforestation and automatically send alerts to key stakeholders, providing a virtual law-enforcement tool that can help bring about social change.

Autodesk and Proximity Designs

Joe Speicher (Executive Director, Autodesk Foundation) and James Taylor (CEO, Proximity) demonstrated how Proximity was able to use Autodesk’s 3D printing expertise and affiliation with the design team to develop the lowest-cost irrigation pump in the world and help farmers in Myanmar improve their productivity – all with an entirely fossil fuel-free production process.


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