Rolex created its Awards for Enterprise back in 1976 as part of its philanthropic mission to recognise and support individuals who have, in the company’s words, “A spirit of enterprise and who are initiating extraordinary projects that make the world a better place”.
There have been 140 award winners in the past 42 years, each of which has received mentoring and financial support from Rolex to advance their ideas.
This year’s winners will each receive prize money of CHF 200,000 along with the global publicity that Rolex can bring.
“From the start, the Awards were designed to fill a void in corporate philanthropy by supporting exceptional individuals around the world, pioneers who had no or little access to traditional funding and were responding to major challenges with original and innovative projects that advance human knowledge and well-being,” Rolex says.
Previous winners have tacked challenges as diverse as creating technologies that improved lives, saving endangered ecosystems, protecting the oceans, exploring new frontiers on the planet, or pioneering advances in science and health.
This year’s award winners will be announced at the National Geographic Explorers’ Symposium in Washington DC on June 12 to 14, but before then readers of WatchPro have the opportunity to vote for their preferred projects atwww.rolex.org/rolexawards. Votes from the public will be combined with votes polled during the Symposium to establish the final results.
THE 10 ROLEX AWARDS FINALISTS ARE:
Emma Camp, 32, United Kingdom – British marine scientist Emma Camp is bringing hope for the world’s dying reefs through natural selection. She is identifying hot spots of naturally resilient corals that can withstand stresses such as acidic and warming waters. Camp wants to transplant these “super survivors” to areas of the Great Barrier Reef that have been devastated by coral bleaching and enlist volunteers to monitor their survival.
João Campos-Silva, 36, Brazil – In the Amazon, the giant arapaima, the world’s largest scaled freshwater fish, which weighs up to 200 kg, is headed for extinction. But in a close partnership with local associations and fishing leaders, the Brazilian fisheries ecologist has a plan to save not only the arapaima but with it, the livelihoods, food supply and culture of the indigenous communities who depend on the region’s rivers for survival.
Grégoire Courtine, 44, France – A scientist based in Switzerland, Courtine is developing a revolutionary approach to help people with paralysis walk again. His method relies on re-establishing communication between the brain and spinal cord using an implantable electronic “bridge”, potentially encouraging nerve regrowth and restoring control of the legs.
Pablo García Borboroglu, 49, Argentina – The Argentinian biologist is proposing a worldwide campaign to address the plight of penguins, who are among the most critically endangered seabirds. The so-called “lawyer of the penguins” is addressing the threats they face with a mixture of science, management and education, by fostering a conservation culture in communities and government. His innovative approach has so far helped to secure 32 million acres of penguin habitat.
Brian Gitta, 26, Uganda – Delaying treatment for malaria for weeks while waiting for test results is common in rural Africa. Gitta is conducting trials on a novel, low-cost, portable device, the Matiscope, which provides results in minutes using light and magnets – without the need for a blood sample. In 2017, Africa had 200 million cases of malaria.
Krithi Karanth, 40, India – Conservation scientist Krithi Karanth is determined to reduce the friction between wildlife and people living near Indian national parks by reducing threats to people, property and livestock, raising conservation awareness in communities and schools and, importantly, assisting with compensation claims through a toll-free helpline service.
Yves Moussallam, 31, France – A French volcanologist, Moussallam is planning two expeditions aboard a traditional Polynesian sailing vessel to measure and analyse gases and aerosols emitted from 17 of the most active volcanoes along an arc of the world’s most volcanically-active region – the Pacific Ring of Fire. His objective is to understand the effect volcanic gases have on global climate, while sharing the adventure and his discoveries via the Internet.
Sara Saeed, 32, Pakistan – Through a healthcare system that digitally connects a network of 1,500 home-based women doctors with people in rural and impoverished communities, Pakistani public health specialist and entrepreneur Sara Saeed is providing low-cost, high-quality, primary healthcare to tens of thousands of people, and helping to stem infant and maternal deaths.
Miranda Wang, 25, Canada – Long involved in investigating how to solve the problem of plastic pollution, California-based, Canadian entrepreneur and molecular biologist Miranda Wang is spearheading an innovative process of turning unrecyclable plastic waste from items such as plastic bags and packing materials into valuable chemicals for use in industrial and consumer products, including making cars and electronics.
Topher White, 37, United States – On a mission to help save the world’s rainforests, American technologist Topher White has created a realtime warning system that can report illegal logging, using repurposed smartphones as “intelligent ears”. The phones also enable scientists to monitor the sounds of rare or important species of birds and animals, creating a vast digital library of raw acoustic data to aid conservation.
Please go to rolex.org/rolexawards to vote for the project or projects that you think will most contribute to making our Planet Perpetual.