Introducing the Verizon Powerful Answers Award Winners for 2014

Touch-Free Smartphones, Organized Organ Donations, a Mobile-Enabled Energy Distribution Grid and a “Smart” Approach to Public Transportation are just a few of the Winning Ideas.

By on December 8, 2014

The wait is over.  Verizon is proud to announce the winners of Verizon’s 2014 Powerful Answers Award, three in each of the following categories: education, health care, sustainability and transportation.

On Jan. 27, 2015 at a live event in New York City, the 12 winners will find out who will be awarded the top prize in their categories, earning $1 million each.  The remaining eight winners will receive $250,000 each, for a total of $6 million awarded by Verizon.

And the winners by category are:


Books that Grow: A learning acceleration program.   According to Books that Grow, 1 billion people worldwide need specialized support to read and learn due to inadequate literary skills. This solution provides a new learning platform featuring Common Core-aligned, downloadable eBooks that adapt to each user’s reading ability, allowing for different permutations of the same text based on each readers’ literary ability.  The platform also builds learning profiles for each student and regularly augments the reading experience to maximize the ability of the reader, turning learning to read into a personalized experience.

School Yourself: The future of digital learning.  School Yourself has created a platform for scalable, personalized education courses that provide a suite of authoring and analytics tools for interactive lessons specific to each student’s needs.  The platform, built by industry experts from Harvard, Google and MIT, creates actionable analytics that let authors quickly improve courses, directing them where their attention is needed.

Sesame Enable: Touch is overrated.  Sesame Enable has developed touch-free smartphone and tablet technology designed to serve children (and adults) for whom touch is irrelevant. According to Sesame Enable, of the 5.6 million paralyzed people in the U.S., 150,000 are children who cannot move their hands. The technology integrates with games and applications and allows those children access to educational opportunities that were previously inaccessible to them.


Aldatu Biosciences: Changing infectious disease treatment through innovative diagnostic solutions. HIV is considered a chronic but manageable infection thanks to advances in antiretroviral (ARV) medications.  However there is an increase in drug resistance that can render one or more components of an antiretroviral drug regimen ineffective, an issue that is especially critical in parts of the world where access to quality care is less prevalent.  Aldatu Biosciences provides a new way to harness the power of a specific technology – Pan Degenerate Amplification and Adaption (PANDAATM) to take an already low-cost diagnostic and, for the first time, enable it for HIV drug resistance genotyping worldwide. 

ORGANIZE: Organ donation simplified. More than 120,000 people are on the waiting list for an organ donation, and 18 people die every day waiting.  According to ORGANIZE, that translates to $42 billion in annual dialysis cost, which is expected to quadruple by 2030.  The current organ donation registration and database dates back to the 20th century and ORGANIZE believes that by  creating a donation system fit for the 21st century, through increased portals of entry and a coordinated approach to registration, this new platform can spread awareness of, and create a mechanism for, a better and more modern U.S. organ donation program.  

Talkitt: This is my voice. Talkitt has created a voice-to-voice application that translates distorted pronunciation to understandable speech, filling a gap for the 1.5% of the population affected by speech and motor disabilities (over 100 Million people). Talkitt is a unique speech-based product designed to address multiple disabilities/illnesses including autism, Parkinson’s, stroke, Alzheimer’s and ALS to name a few, and to help family members, caregivers and friends communicate with loved ones. 


d.light: An international social enterprise serving households without access to reliable electricity.  In the developing world, there are 1.2 billion people without access to reliable energy, and 85% of those people live in rural areas.   This lack of access leads to dangerous and unsustainable conditions. d.light has created a model for a mobile-enabled distribution grid that provides energy to those in need by designing, manufacturing and distributing solar light and power products throughout the developing world. Their solution is designed to leapfrog grid infrastructure and convert the high costs of distributed solar energy into affordable monthly payments, providing consumers a clean, reliable, cost-effective source of energy.

Eco-fuel Africa: Fueling an environmentally and financially sustainable Africa. According to Eco-fuel Africa, 2 billion people across the globe depend on dirty and expensive wood-based fuels and as a result, 2 billion tons of biomass are burned each year, leading to unsustainable levels of deforestation and CO2 emissions. To solve this problem, Eco-fuel Africa has created a solution in the form of green charcoal that is sold through a network of female retailers.  The charcoal is produced from agricultural waste, is 65% cheaper than charcoal from wood, burns clearer and longer than wood-based fuels and is usable in any cook stove. The fuel helps users save money and helps reduce the rate of deforestation, create sustainable local jobs and reduce indoor air pollution.

Radiator Labs: Bringing radiator heat into the 21st Century. $7 billion, which is equivalent to 40 billion pounds of CO2 emissions, is wasted annually in the U.S. because people can’t control the temperature in their apartments. Radiator Labs has found a way to help solve this problem through the use of the “Cozy,” a smart, low-cost drop-on retrofit for radiators that eliminates overheating while connecting less sophisticated heating technology to the cloud.  This smart-energy storage and distribution system can store, dispense and re-distribute energy based on hyper-local demand, and can save 30-40% in building heating costs by reducing energy use.


HopOn: Cutting through lines. HopOn is changing the experience of ticketing and boarding public transport systems through cloud service technology designed to make public transportation more efficient and enjoyable. Using the HopOn Beacon and associated application, customers can enjoy simultaneous validation and payment with reduced wait times, and, using the back-end solution, public transportation operators can engage with real-time validation and payment statistics as well as route analysis, detailed fraud monitoring and passenger behavior analysis.

Matternet: Everyone connected to physical goods, anywhere. Matternet provides a new paradigm in small flying vehicles, networks and goods transportation that uses personal flying vehicles to enable the world’s next transportation system. Matternet specifically targets those countries that have no or limited access to all-season roads and aims to reduce delivery and energy costs to those areas that need it most.

Vaxess Technologies: Bioengineering silk for the vaccine market.  Every year, more than 2.4 Million people die of diseases that could be prevented by vaccines, and more than 20% of children born each year do not receive proper immunization. This is because 97% of vaccines require cold storage between 2˚ and 8˚C, and a lack of cold chain infrastructure limits this access.  Vaxess technologies has created a solution in the form of a soluble, silk-stabilized vaccine that can be shipped without refrigeration, designed to extend the global reach and access to vaccine products and expand the market for companies that produce them.

Who’s your favorite? To find out who the $1 million winners are, watch the Powerful Answers Award Event live on January 27 via And don’t forget to join the conversation via #VZPAA.

Tags: #VZPAA, Powerful Answers Award, Verizon's 2014 Power Answers Award, New York City, Healthcare, Sustainability, Education, Transportation