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Two Alumni from the Global Social Benefit Incubator Are Winners of Ashden Awards for Providing Clean, Sustainable Energy

Wednesday, Jun. 22, 2011

SANTA CLARA, Calif., June 22, 2011—Two alumni ventures of the Santa Clara University–based Global Social Benefit Incubator™ (GSBI) have been awarded Ashden Awards for Clean Energy, given annually to 10 companies that successfully provide clean, affordable, and sustainable energy to remote parts of the world.

The prizes have been awarded since 2001 by the Ashden Foundation, a UK-based supporter of environmental and social regeneration projects.

Among the 10 winners were GSBI alumni Indian rice-husk power supplier Husk Power Systems and portable solar-product manufacturer and distributor ToughStuff of the UK and Africa. According to the Ashden Award sponsors, the selected companies received the award for making products that contribute to “a world where access to clean, affordable electricity and fuel can be enjoyed by the poor—transforming living standards, reducing CO2 emissions, and easing the pressure on our dwindling forests.” Winners also were selected based upon their high potential for expansion and replication.

GSBI, which both companies attended in 2009, is the signature program of SCU’s Center for Science, Technology, and Society. It is an eight-month, skills- and capacity-development program that annually matches 20 social entrepreneurs in sectors such as energy, health, technology, and commerce with Silicon Valley mentors and Santa Clara University faculty. Class members also attend a rigorous two-week, in-residence program in the summer.

“We are delighted that Husk Power Systems and ToughStuff have received the prestigious Ashden Awards,” said Thane Kreiner, Ph.D., executive director of CSTS. “The judges identified replicability and scalability of these two ventures as determinative factors, which reflects how we seek to help the 20 social entrepreneurs who win GSBI scholarships each year.”

Husk Power and ToughStuff were awarded about $29,000 (U.S. dollars) each, and were feted at an awards ceremony in London last week, attended by 500 guests.

In selecting Husk Power Systems, the judges cited the company’s production of clean, reliable electricity in Bihar, “one of the most poorly served states in India when it comes to electricity.”  They also noted that Husk Power is aiming for rapid growth, with more than 2,000 plants in operation by the end of 2014.

“The Ashden Award is a great validation of the years of hard work we, especially operators and mechanics on the ground, have put into Husk Power Systems,” said Manoj Sinha, co-founder of the Bihar, India-based company. “The judges applauded our ambitious growth rate in the last two years and specifically cited our ambitious, yet achievable growth rates, something that was helped immensely by the training, support, and mentorship received at GSBI.”

According to the judges, ToughStuff is “a socially driven enterprise selling a modular range of low-cost solar products for off-grid customers across Africa.” The judges also indicated that 740,000 people are already enjoying the advantages of ToughStuff’s solar-powered lamps, mobile-phone chargers, or radio connectors—all priced around $9.

“This award is yet another great step on our way to bringing durable, affordable energy solutions to some of the poorest people in the world,” said Andrew Tanswell, founder of ToughStuff. “My time at GSBI helped me hone the way I envision, present, and position my company for the future. The Ashden Awards 2011, the Tech Awards 2010, and GSBI 2009 are ongoing endorsements of the impact and innovation we are bringing.”

About CSTS
The mission of the Center for Science, Technology, and Society (CSTS) is to promote the use of science and technology to benefit underserved communities worldwide, primarily by working with socially minded entrepreneurs. The CSTS implements its mission through its signature program, the Global Social Benefit Incubator™, its partnership with The Tech Museum in The Tech Awards program, Frugal Innovation, social capital services, and its numerous educational and public engagement activities. Through these programs, the Center has worked with nearly 1,000 social enterprises affording the Center unique insights into leading business models and innovations for the developing world and emerging markets. More information can be found at

About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley. Santa Clara offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate program in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s degrees in a number of professional fields, law degrees, and engineering and theology doctorates. Distinguished by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, Santa Clara educates leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion grounded in faith-inspired values. Founded in 1851, Santa Clara is California’s oldest institution of higher education. For more information, see

Media Contact: 
Deborah Lohse | Asst. Media Relations Director | Santa Clara University
Office: 408-554-5121 | Cell: 408-768-6898



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