COVID-19: ‘Detect and Protect Challenge’ grand prize winners announced

August 10, 2020

Seattle/Singapore/New York, August 12 — The COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge, a joint innovation challenge launched in mid-April by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and, announced 10 grand prize winners today. The ten winners were selected from over 350 submissions from over 50 countries, half of which came from low- to lower-middle income countries including Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nigeria and Sri Lanka.

Details of the countries and winners here.

The innovation challenge provided innovators, makers, and developers globally an opportunity to identify open-source, low-tech, and inexpensive hardware solutions to support developing countries in tackling and recovering from COVID-19. Many of these innovations cost less than US$50 to build, and some as low as $10. Most can be built from globally available and easily sourced components, with instructions available.

Haoliang Xu, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP’s Bureau for Policy and Programme Support stated, “The COVID19 Detect and Protect Challenge addresses the needs and realities of communities by fostering micro-innovation with strong local ownership.”

“Open-source is crucial in achieving this as it removes barriers to innovation and provides an opportunity to explore locally implementable recovery options,” he further stated.

As part of the challenge, there have been 30 Impact Winners so far. Their innovations include touchless water and soap dispensers, social distancing gadgets, 3D-printed smart face shields, contactless thermometers, face mask disinfection devices and low-tech healthcare robots.

Adam Benzion, Co-Founder of Hackster stated, “We have run innovation challenges for some of the biggest names in technology, but this has been our most successful initiative ever with thousands of participants and more than 300 high-quality submissions. Each idea likely represents hundreds of hours of design and engineering efforts that might not have come to life if it wasn’t for the global Hackster community. Most importantly, we are now providing the tools and equipment needed to get these innovations to the places where they can make the most difference.”

As a way forward, the focus is now on building and testing these solutions on the ground, where relevant, and supporting community-driven supply chains in developing countries to get these innovations to where they are needed most. With the aim to ensure positive impact on the global fight against COVID-19, this process has demonstrated how global innovations can be captured and applied locally with the promise to make real, sustainable change. By working with global tech partners in this effort, the UNDP is hopeful that this challenge can help speed up response and recovery efforts, getting countries and communities a bit closer to the new normal.

A full list of these Impact Winners is available here. For more information, please visit the COVID19 Detect and Protect Challenge website.

Important Links

·         Our partners in the COVID-19 Detect and Protect Challenge: Avnet, Arduino, Adafruit, Arm, Amazon AWS, NVidia, NXP, Nordic Semiconductors, Microsoft, The Things Industries, Edge Impulse, Soracom, Google, SG Innovate, Balena, Intel, Ubidots, Seeed, Unicef, Silicon Labs and DFRobot.

Media Contacts

·         UNDP New York: Sangita Khadka,; +1 212 906 5043

·         UNDP Singapore: Nurfilzah Rohaidi,; +65 8182 1005

·         Avnet: Jeanne Forbis;; 480-643-7499                                         

·         Brodeur Partners, for Avnet: Alex Jafarzadeh;; 617-587-2846

About UNDP

UNDP partners with people at all levels of society to help build nations that can withstand crisis, and drive and sustain the kind of growth that improves the quality of life for everyone. On the ground in nearly 170 countries and territories, we offer global perspective and local insight to help empower lives and build resilient nations.

About the UNDP Accelerator Labs

In 2019, UNDP built the world’s largest and fastest learning network on sustainable development challenges. The Accelerator Labs are 60 Lab teams covering 78 countries, that create actionable intelligence and test solutions with national partners. The Labs are part of UNDP’s global policy teams and country offices.

About Avnet

Avnet is a global technology solutions provider with an extensive ecosystem delivering design, product, marketing and supply chain expertise for customers at every stage of the product lifecycle. We transform ideas into intelligent solutions, reducing the time, cost and complexities of bringing products to market. For nearly a century, Avnet has helped its customers and suppliers around the world realize the transformative possibilities of technology. Learn more about Avnet at and its Hackster community at