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SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC Calling On Young Talent To Meet The Energy Challenge 

Schneider Electric rewards an innovative student project for providing communities at the base of the pyramid with access to energy

The Schneider Electric Award has been won by a team from the UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School in Ireland for their Solar Change project as part of the Shanghai 2010 Award for “Entrepreneurship and the Sustainable City”. Organised by HEC Paris University and the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, the event concluded with an award ceremony held on July 15, at the Shanghai Grand Theatre in China.

Involving more than 150 universities from around the world and focusing on the Shanghai Expo theme of “Better City, Better Life”, the aim of the competition was to raise awareness among business students of sustainable urban development and to identify and promote new business models contributing to a better, more sustainable life in the city. As one of the event’s partners, Schneider Electric presented an award to the most innovative project selected from within its own areas of expertise.

“The Schneider Electric Foundation challenged students to come up with innovative energy solutions which could be implemented right away. Schneider Electric is particularly proud to be involved with the Shanghai 2010 Award and to reward such an innovative project as Solar Change”, said Claude Breining, in charge of European Affairs at Schneider Electric, who represented the Group on the judging panel. “What is more, sponsoring this type of project will promote strong, confident relations between Schneider Electric and a new generation of young, talented entrepreneurs, called into action to face the current energy challenges and fully cognisant of our values."

The aim of the Solar Change project was to address the challenge of supplying electricity in slums. The team designed an innovative system which is safe, affordable, green and based on a business model adapted to the issues and problems experienced by people at the base of the pyramid. The ingenious solution is a tree-like structure called SCTree - a stand-alone solar power unit with a single stable pillar and solar panels at the crown - which can be placed at the centre of the slum. The business model offers local entrepreneurs support from a micro-finance organisation to purchase the SCTree and cover their costs by selling the electricity generated to inhabitants based on a monthly subscription.

The obvious parallel between the proposals put forward by the Solar Change project and Schneider Electric’s BipBop programme for providing access to energy was one of the deciding factors in awarding the prize. As the global specialist in energy management, Schneider Electric plays a key role in providing energy access to all with the strong willingness to engage communities and stakeholders at the base of the pyramid to provide reliable and safe energy. BipBop, the Group’s in-house energy access programme, addresses three key issues to provide sustainable access to electricity:
• Business – Create an investment fund to develop electrical businesses;
• Innovation – Build and deliver electrical distribution solutions for people at the bottom of the pyramid;
• People – Help provide electrical training for young people looking to enter the workforce.

The prize awarded to the Solar Change team included an all-expenses trip to Shanghai to visit the World Expo, a €3,600 cash prize and a mentoring commitment from Schneider Electric to assist with their future business projects.

Email: emma.vaughan@bright-pr.co.uk


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