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Desi Brand

Tech Humanitarian Awards

The genesis of the awards ceremony, which also serves as a fundraiser for the downtown San Jose Tech Museum, was the 1990s United Nations study, "The State of the Future at the Millennium," which focused on challenges facing the planet and the importance of assisting the developing world. The museum has since highlighted the work of hundreds of global entrepreneurs, academics and nonprofit workers using technology and innovative business plans to improve the lives of millions.

The first honor, the James C. Morgan Global Humanitarian Award, went to Jeff Skoll, who was hired by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar to become the online auction company's first employee and first president in 1996. (Previous winners include Bill Gates, Al Gore, and Jordan's Queen Rania Al Abdullah.)

The Tech Awards also honored fifteen laureate organizations from around the world, which competed for five $50,000 cash awards funded by Microsoft, Intel, Nokia and other major tech firms. The winners, announced at Thursday's ceremony, were:

AguaClara, an initiative of Cornell University that was honored for building gravity-powered water-treatment facilities that provide safe drinking water to 20,000 people in five communities without the need for electricity.

PhET Interactive Simulations, the University of Colorado's group that teaches students from elementary school to universities via animated "science projects" that have been translated into 64 languages.

Universal Subtitles, a collaborative platform for captioning online videos that brought 25,000 videos on subjects such as the Arab Spring and the Japanese Tsunami to the deaf and hard of hearing in its first nine months.

We Care Solar, whose "solar suitcase" provides lighting and power to clinics in Africa, Asia, and Central America that might otherwise be forced to deliver babies and conduct other medical care by candlelight.

Eko Financial Services, which aims to democratize financial services by allowing 800,000 clients in India, such as migrant workers, to access bank accounts via inexpensive mobile phones.

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