Prudence Foundation announces winners of the 2021 SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards

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Innovative oil spill recovery and dam water level monitoring solutions receive a US$75,000 grant each to help save lives from natural disasters

HONG KONG SAR – Media OutReach – 6 July 2021 Prudence Foundation, the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia and Africa, together with Humanitarian Partner International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and Technology Partner Lenovo, have announced the winners of the 2021 SAFE STEPS Disaster Tech (D-Tech) Awards. The Awards recognise the essential role that technology plays in protecting and saving lives before, during and after natural disaster events.

Singapore-based EcoWorth Tech and the Stimson Center from the United States are the winners of this year’s Awards. They were selected from among close to 60 entries around the world, and form part of eight finalists that took part in a virtual live pitch to a judging panel.

Mr Donald Kanak, Chairman of Prudence Foundation, said Prudence Foundation has been focusing on disaster preparedness and relief since 2011.

Asia is the world’s most disaster-affected region. More than 50 per cent of global natural disasters took place in Asia, including China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.[1]

“The SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards is a natural extension of our work to help communities recover from natural disasters through scalable, preventative technology solutions that can protect and save lives.

“We believe D-Tech should be front of mind for innovators, venture capitalists and businesses. The Awards serve as a platform to bring their knowledge, capabilities and investments to support D-Tech innovation and make the world a safer place,” said Mr Kanak.

EcoWorth Tech is awarded the first prize in the for-profit category. The company’s Carbon Fibre Aerogel (CFA) sponge, made of low-cost natural materials such as waste biomass, renewable cotton or wastepaper, is capable of cleaning waters following an oil spill. EcoWorth Tech’s reusable, environmentally-friendly CFA sponge can absorb oil of up to 190 times its own weight, mitigating the environmental impact of polluting industries.

“The SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards provided a launchpad for us to meet like-minded innovators and environmentalists around the world. We will use the grant to further develop and deploy our solution, conduct more real-environment testing and encourage upcycling,” said Mr Andre Stolz, Co-Founder and CEO of EcoWorth Tech.

The Stimson Center is the winner of the non-profit category. Its Mekong Dam Monitor is a satellite imagery solution that leverages remote sensing data to monitor water levels in dams to help communities prepare in advance of flooding events or water supply disruption caused by upstream dam operations.

“Participating in the SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards has been a very rewarding experience for our team. We had ample opportunities to meet with expert coaches who helped us sharpen our strategies and brainstorm new ways to scale and evolve our solution. We plan to use the grant to localise our services and language interfaces for use across Southeast Asia,” said Mr Brian Eyler, Director of Southeast Asia Programme at the Stimson Center and co-lead for the Mekong Dam Monitor.

Building resilience against disasters in the region has never been more critical, as COVID-19 has highlighted the growing vulnerability of people and communities to disasters. The pandemic has infected over 37 million people in Asia[2] and is expected to cause US$2.7 trillion in economic losses[3].

Mr Alexander Matheou, Asia Pacific Director, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said, “We commend all the finalists and winners who have come up with such important innovative solutions at a time where we face unprecedented environmental challenges and threats due to climate change. We are delighted to work with the SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards to foster a safer world as we face ever more dangerous disasters in Asia, the most disaster-prone region in the world.”

“D-Tech solutions have become critically important to strengthening disaster response,” said Mr Sumir Bhatia, President of Infrastructure Solutions Group at Lenovo Asia Pacific. “As such, it is of great urgency that technology companies, such as Lenovo, leverage their world-class technologies to collaborate with local entrepreneurs and NGOs to develop tailored solutions that can achieve better natural disaster preparedness, recovery, and resilience. The focus needs to be on collaboration, how we can effectively utilise the power of technology for the betterment of all.”

For more information about the 2021 SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards, visit


The SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards were judged by an esteemed panel of experts from both the profit and non-profit sectors, who donated their time and expertise to the programme. The final panel was composed of the following experts:

  • Alexander Matheou, Regional Director, Asia Pacific, the IFRC
  • Bjorn Lindfors, Technology Partner, Antler
  • Birger Stamperdahl, CEO, Give2Asia
  • Jess Letch, Manager, Emergency Operations Coordination from the Disaster, Climate and Crisis Unit, the IFRC
  • John Sharp, Managing Partner, Hatcher+
  • Michael Woolley, Director, Head of Sustainability and Client Portfolio Manager, Eastspring Investments
  • Sumir Bhatia, President, Asia Pacific, Infrastructure Solutions Group, Lenovo

For the full list of competition judges and partners, visit

Visual assets available here:

Video about the 2021 SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards: Link

Videos about the Finalists: For-Profit category and Non-Profit category

High-resolution images of the finalists’ solutions: Link


Winners of the 2021 SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards

Company (For-Profit)


EcoWorth Tech (Winner)


FloodMapp (Runner-up)


Company (Non-Profit)


The Stimson Center (Winner)


Fields Data (Runner-up)


EcoWorth Tech Pte. Ltd (Singapore)

Singapore-based startup EcoWorth transforms local cellulosic waste (e.g. wood, fibres/husks, used paper) into a super-absorbent material for oil spill clean-up and used in water treatment filters to efficiently remove oil from the water. The material allows for the absorbed oil to be recuperated and recycled.

FloodMapp (Australia)

FloodMapp is specialises in rapid real-time flood forecasting and flood inundation mapping to provide greater warning time that can potentially save lives and reduce damage and associated financial losses. The technology supports all three stages of the disaster management process, before, during and after a flood.

The Stimson Center (United States of America)

The Stimson Center operates the Mekong Dam Monitor, which provides near real-time monitoring of water levels in dams in the Mekong through satellite data and modelling, helping communities prepare in advance of upstream dam operations that may result in flooding or water supply disruption. The Monitor is a partnership between the Stimson Center and Eyes on Earth, and is currently deployed in Cambodia, Vietnam, Lao PDR, Thailand, and China.

Link to the Mekong Dam Monitor

Fields Data (Norway)

Fields Data collects and share ground-level information about humanitarian and international development organisations in the form of 4W maps – who does what, where and when. Through these operational presence maps, Fields Data facilitates partnerships, give visibility accessibility to organisations working hard in the field and help organisations improve efficiencies. The solution is active in Burundi and Ghana with plans to expand to India.

*Lenovo’s support to the SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards includes a total of US$50,000 cash prizes for the for-profit and non-profit runners up, as well as in-kind support for the winners and runners-up in both categories.

Finalists of the 2021 SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards


Kacific Broadband Satellite Ltd (Singapore)

A next-generation broadband satellite operator that provides high-speed, low-cost, ultra-reliable broadband to rural and suburban areas of the Pacific and South East Asia.

Project OWL (United States of America)

Operates hybrid hardware and software solution that provides rapidly deployable sensor and communications networks on ground, water, or in the air from dense urban locations to rural environments hit by disaster.


Bike Scouts (Philippines)

A web and mobile app that gives users the tools for documenting disaster impact in real time and for activating and coordinating a community-driven, highly-scalable, and localised network of support to gather and deliver aid through social teamwork.

Yayasan Plan International Indonesia (Indonesia)

Yayasan Plan International Indonesia has developed a simple flood early warning tool made from local materials, such as small plastic pipes, small-sized loudspeakers, cables, and tennis balls.

[1] Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters and the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction. (2020). Human cost of disasters: An overview of the last 20 years 2000-2019. Page 9.

[2] World Health Organization. (15 June 2021). “Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 – 15 June 2021”.—15-june-2021

[3] S&P Global Ratings. (26 June 2020). “Economic research: Asia-Pacific losses bear $3 trillion as balance sheet recession looms”.

About the SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards

The SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards looks to find, fund and support technology solutions which protects and saves lives before, during or after natural disaster events. The SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards were created out of the belief that technological innovation has a significant role to play in improving disaster preparedness, recovery and resilience. This need is especially magnified in Asia Pacific where half of the world’s natural disaster events occur.

Now in its second edition, the Awards look to continue the work in catalysing a network of support, raising awareness of the sector, and helping the remarkable companies that operate in this space grow and scale.

The 2021 SAFE STEPS D-Tech Awards are created by Prudence Foundation and supported by humanitarian partner, the IFRC and technology partner, Lenovo.

About Prudence Foundation

Prudence Foundation is the community investment arm of Prudential in Asia and Africa. Its mission is to secure the future of communities by enhancing education, health and safety. The Foundation runs regional and local programmes in partnership with NGOs, governments and the private sector in order to maximise the impact of its efforts. Prudence Foundation leverages Prudential’s long-term mindset and geographical scale to make communities safer, more secure and more resilient. The Foundation is a Hong Kong registered charitable entity.

For more information, please visit Prudence Foundation.

About IFRC

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) is the world’s largest humanitarian network, comprising 192 member National Societies that work to save lives and promote dignity around the world.

For more information, please visit IFRC.

About Lenovo

Lenovo (HKSE: 992) (ADR: LNVGY) is a US$60 billion revenue Fortune Global 500 company serving customers in 180 markets around the world. Focused on a bold vision to deliver smarter technology for all, we are developing world-changing technologies that power (through devices and infrastructure) and empower (through solutions, services and software) millions of customers every day and together create a more inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable digital society for everyone, everywhere. To find out more visit and read about the latest news via our StoryHub.