Magnificent 77 to the rescue!

Group of people standing outdoors for photo (Courtesy of Launch)
(Courtesy photo)

Can 77 science-based business ventures save the world?

That’s the number of businesses that an organization called Launch helped to do just that. They’ve all developed products or services to address global problems, such as climate change, water shortages or inadequate access to health care. Launch helps bring their ideas to market and increase the scale of their solutions.

Woman and man talking in laboratory (Courtesy of Launch)
Lisa Dyson and John Reed, founders of Kiverdi, which recycles carbon dioxide to make consumer products. (Courtesy photo)

Network solutions

Launch was started in 2010 by innovators Todd Khozein and Jeff Hamaoui, with support from Nike, NASA, the U.S. Agency for International Development and the U.S. Department of State. Part crowdsourced endeavor, part tech mentorship and part business accelerator, Launch comes up with challenges for innovative people to tackle. Recent ones relate to the “circular,” or no-waste, economy; healthy foods; and new ways of producing chemicals.

Finalists benefit from a network of bright minds from government, business, academia and civil society who help them secure investment capital and market their product while increasing its social or environmental benefit.

People sitting around round table (Courtesy of Launch)
Round-table discussions with private-sector and government leaders are part of the Launch process. (Courtesy photo)

Winning ideas have brought the world portable microbial water-testing products and a new process for manufacturing bioplastics, as well as inhaler sensors that help to better treat respiratory diseases like asthma.

Launch-supported inventions provide clean water to 4.5 million people and access to health care to 100,000 — and save 5 million liters of water.

Launch’s network-centered approach produces unusual collaboration and partnership opportunities for participants, according to Hamaoui.

Three people looking at laptop (Courtesy of Launch)
Three Launch innovators — Amit Paul, left, Florence Kamaitha and Shane Allen — talk via livestream with astronaut Catherine Coleman about materials innovation. (Courtesy photo)

“To look beyond borders and co-innovate with unconventional partners is key,” said Catherine Coleman, a U.S. astronaut, who represented NASA for the Launch program.