I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
The Latest Social Innovation Solar-Powered Lamp called 'Little Sun'
The latest social innovation work from Olafur Eliasson, a Berlin-based Danish artist, is a solar-powered lamp that he developed and designed with engineer, Frederik Ottesen. The lamp is charmingly called Little Sun; its creators have founded the Little Sun GmbH, a not-for-profit company that wants to make sustainable light available globally and promote economic growth in regions of the world where electricity is not available or reliable. There are plans to distribute the lamp in the developing world in partnership with non-governmental-organisations. One in five of the world's population live without electricity.
Little Sun was conceived as part of the London 2012 summer festival that is taking place across the capital this July, part of the 12,000 events and performances across the U.K. in celebration of the Olympics. To demonstrate and experience these lamps, from 28 July and for every Saturday night until 23 September, the Surrealism rooms at the Tate Modern museum will be plunged into darkness after normal opening hours, where visitors will be able to enter the room using the light of the Little Sun lamps.
Olafur Eliasson says, "Art is always interested in society in all kinds of abstract ways, though this has a very explicit social component. The art world sometimes lives in a closed-off world of art institutions, but I still think there's a lot of work to show that art can deal with social issues very directly." Together, Eliasson and Ottesen have met the initial costs of the lamp themselves and have created what they hope will be a successful social innovation business model. The lamps will be sold in Kenya, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe at a good price for local retailers to make a profit, yet at the same time a price that is affordable to local consumers. Little Sun has two prices: it will cost around $10 (£6) to customers in Africa and more 'developed world' prices for people in the West.
This lamp during its first three-year battery life will give 10 times more light than using a kerosene lamp and at a 10th of the cost. The battery can be replaced, doubling the lamp's lifetime. The lamps are robust and should not break. Eliasson says, "You can drop it from a third-floor window and it still works. You can put it through the washing machine - I don't recommend it, but we've tried it - and it still works." The design incorporates elements that help keep the battery cool and uses the most recently developed LED social innovation technology. In order, for the lamp to be sturdy enough to withstand African heat, it is not made from recycled plastic.
Left in the sun for five hours, the social innovation technology that powers Little Sun will provide five hours' worth of light. Eliasson and Ottensen hope that the money saved by families and that the extra hours of light will change lives.
Photo Credit: The Little Sun website