Phone-charging shoes? Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore

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Two winners emerged out of the 130 submitted ideas to the Climate Challenge. Photo: UNDP fYR Macedonia

A dynamic team of four Macedonian university students has recently come up with one of those brilliant inventions that make you scratch your head and wonder ‘How come nobody thought of that before?’

They’ve proposed an energy-saving device that makes use of our everyday walking and running to generate energy for charging devices like mobile phones and tablets.

As UNDP, we launched a call for ideas to tackle Climate Change, back in December 2014. Out of the 130 ideas submitted, our panel picked the ten most promising and organized a 2-day Climate camp to help support the shortlisted candidates.

After a few months of development, the team behind phone-charging shoes now has a great opportunity to turn its idea into reality—a cash prize of 10,000 US dollars as the winners of the country’s Climate Challenge for innovative solutions to help prevent and mitigate the effects of climate change.

The youngest member of the team, 19-year-old Loreta Todorovska—a student of accounting and economics—explains the thinking behind the winning solution:

“Like most people, I often run low on charge for my phone—and even more often I forget to bring my charger with me. But I never go out without my trainers. So I got to thinking how cool it would be if I could just use my shoes to charge my phone.”

One of Loreta’s teammates, Martina Dimovska—a 21-year-old student of nano-materials and robotics—says she knew all along the idea was great but was very surprised to win the Challenge:

“The competition was really strong… I was bowled over when I saw all the other good ideas that made it….And on top of that we were the youngest of all the teams, so I was really amazed that we came out as the winners.”

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We organized the Climate Challenge with support from the Ministry of Environment and Physical Planning, the Swedish Embassy, USAID, MilieuKontakt and the Social Innovation Hub.

In doing this, we sought to tap into the country’s talent by inviting the public to submit innovative ideas for mitigating climate change.

The winning team found out about the Challenge on social media and decided to take part in the hope of gaining the advice and resources they need to develop a prototype of their phone-charging shoes.

Aleksandar Lazovski, a 20-year-old student of marketing and management, reflects:

“We’ve worked together for a while now, and we’ve taken part in quite a few competitions already. In January this year we founded an NGO called Smart-Up to help IT graduates get a better chance of employment by developing their skills in marketing and communications. The prize money and all the media attention we’re getting means we’ve really got a chance of making it big and of making a difference for the environment at the same time.”

With success comes responsibility and the team is now racing to meet new deadlines for completing the prototype. 20-year-old Nikolco Gosev, a student of network technologies, explains:

“We’re having to learn fast! Everyone’s looking to see how we do now—our parents and our friends and the media. It’s great but there’s big pressure. The main thing is to stay focused and remember our aims and values: to build from the success of this product and create a profitable company that does good for the planet.”

See www.odtebezavisi.mk for more info on the Challenge and the winning ideas.

Blog post the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia Youth Communities and local development Innovation

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