The GEC Catalyst Awards seek to inspire innovation in the design, manufacture and use of technology to advance sustainability globally. GEC provides two Catalyst Awards. The first is “Catalyzing Impact at Scale,” which recognizes organizations that have achieved a large-scale sustainability impact due to their design, manufacture and/or use of IT. The second is “Catalyzing Disruptive Innovation,” which recognizes organizations that have designed cutting-edge technologies or used technology in such a way that, if adopted widely, could lead to exponential sustainability gains.
Each year the Catalyst Awards focus on a different theme.
2021 Catalyst Award Theme
The 2021 GEC Catalyst Awards will explore how technology can protect our world. Biodiversity conservation is of critical importance for a world that faces an alarming decline in plant and animal species. A recent United Nations’ report projects that up to 1 million of the world’s estimated 8 million plant and animal species could be lost over the coming decades. While food crop production has increased 300% since 1970, 23% of land areas have reduced productivity because of land degradation.
In addition, 11% of the world’s population is undernourished, and seed diversity for the crops we rely on has decreased significantly. As the world struggles to rein in greenhouse gas emissions and the impacts of climate change, loss of animal and plant diversity threatens our ability to feed ourselves, discover new medicines, and counteract the greenhouse gasses that are causing climate change. But there’s hope; there are many exciting innovations and application of technology, from drones and sensors to artificial intelligence, that can play an important role in supporting biodiversity and conservation.
Opportunities for Recognition
The GEC Catalyst Awards provide an international platform to recognize sustainability achievements related to electronics. The awards serve as endorsement from independent and esteemed experts, who help select the winners. Additionally, GEC promotes winners to spotlight their accomplishments to thousands of colleagues in the field. GEC Catalyst Awards finalists and winners will be showcased via:
- Featuring the GEC Catalyst Award winners as part of the GEC’s webinar series, “Technology’s Role in Conserving and Protective Our Natural World,” with the webinar recording available online
- Promotion by GEC to multiple industry and procurement associations interested in application of technology (e.g. sensors, unmanned aerial vehicles or drones used for conservation, etc)
- Promotion by the GEC on website, and in social media, relevant press releases, and newsletters
Eligibility & Nomination Process
Nominations are open to any organization in the public or private sectors and public-private partnerships, from any geography, committed to promoting sustainable electronics. Nominations are accepted for products, programs, and partnerships launched within the past five (5) years.
Nominations must be submitted via email in PDF format using the “Submit Nomination” button below. All three sections of the Nomination Form must be completed to be eligible. Each question need not be answered in detail; responding to each will enable the Judging Committee to better evaluate the nomination. Quantitative data addressing the nomination’s sustainability claims are not required but may strengthen the submission.
- February 17, 2021: Catalyst Awards nomination period begins
- June 14, 2021: Catalyst Awards nomination period ends
- July 2021: Judging Committee begins reviewing nominations
- August 2021: GEC notifies 2021 GEC Catalyst Awards winners and finalists of their status
- Fall 2021: Awards ceremony (virtual; date TBA)
While the uncertainty of the global COVID-19 pandemic may require GEC to host the first Catalyst Awards ceremony virtually, GEC is excited that technology will enable us to reach an even broader audience, further inspiring catalyzing innovation that leverages technology to conserve our natural world.
2019 Catalyst Awards Winners
In 2019 the GEC Catalyst Awards recognized innovation in the design, manufacture, use, reuse and recycling of sensors to advance sustainability in cities and communities globally.
Winner Catalyzing Impact at Scale
City of Antibes, France
The City of Antibes, a coastal resort town in France, has a population of 80,000 residents that balloons to more than 200,000 people during the summer. The City’s water supply is a critical component to its tourism economy, and with a distribution network of 315 kilometers and more than 40,000 sections, it wanted to increase the security and economic viability of the system. To increase Antibes’ resilience, it partnered with SIGFOX, SAP, and VEOLIA to digitize its water distribution system. With 2,000 sensors, and with a technology leveraging a majority of existing assets and the capability to mix them with new sensors on a low-power IoT network embedded with end-to-end security, the city was able to create a more economically viable, sustainable, and safe water distribution system. This solution helps Antibes to anticipate breakdowns, optimize maintenance schedules, and plan for future infrastructure investments. As a result, the citizens of Antibes pay less than half the national price of water in France.
Winner Disruptive Innovation
Cyber-attacks within the energy and utilities industries cost an average of $13.2 million per year. Fend’s data diode brings much-needed cybersecurity to the sensors and IoT devices that have the potential to help make our cities smarter, efficient, and resilient. The hardware gets real-time industrial equipment data where it needs to go with a class of cybersecurity technology once reserved for nuclear power plants and the military. The data diodes send data in only one direction, so attackers cannot physically penetrate the network connection, send malware, penetrate corporate information networks, or use legacy equipment as a backdoor for ransomware. Fend’s solution requires no patches, uses less than 2 watts when in operation, is designed to last for years, and is constructed to be easily disassembled into its recyclable components at the end of its life. Fend’s data diodes can be installed rapidly at cities across the world, providing a strong cybersecurity defense for smart cities anywhere.
2019 Catalyst Awards Honorees
CAPA Strategies, LLC
City and County of Denver’s Department of Public Health & Environment
Human Oriented Products Ubiquitous
City of Portland, Oregon
Virginia Institute of Marine Science
2019 Catalyst Awards Finalists
Hewlett Packard Enterprise
International Telecommunication Union
Intelligent Environments Laboratory, The University of Texas at Austin
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ENERGY STAR Smart Home Energy Management Systems
Residential buildings account for 20% of U.S. energy use, making it an ideal sector for energy savings. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) ENERGY STAR Smart Home Energy Management Systems (SHEMS) program developed the first national effort to define and recognize smart home systems that manage and reduce energy use by offering a combined package of service algorithms, user interfaces, occupancy sensors, and controlled devices. EPA has developed a specification to generate immediately available energy savings through the deployment of a voluntary national recognition standard. EPA intends to use the data collected over a statistically significant period to develop a single performance metric that objectively compares the energy performance of different SHEMS services, which will enable the agency to define energy saving targets in future specifications without prescribing strategies or technologies.