New tech challenge to make rural schools more sustainable

Ennomotive and Colbún launch the first open innovation social challenge to contribute to the sustainability of rural schools.

The contest will reward innovative solutions related to water, energy, and thermal comfort from two schools in rural areas in Chile.

Colbún SA ( ) is a leading Chilean company in the generation and trading of electricity and the provision of energy solutions.

New tech challenge to make rural schools more sustainable

Through its foundation (Fundación Colbún), Colbún promotes, encourages, and supports activities to improve the living conditions of the most vulnerable. Among its main lines of cooperation are the strengthening and modernization of access to energy and water (SDG 6 and 7).

The “Transforming Schools” program seeks to support rural schools in Chile, close to Colbún’s operations, with improvements that help them become more sustainable. In a first stage, it is intended to find solutions to the problems of schools in the communes of San Esteban (Río Colorado sector) and Quillota (San Pedro sector).

To this end, Colbún has launched an online challenge with the aim of finding innovative and sustainable solutions, in collaboration with the innovation platform ennomotive and the NGO Desafío Levantemos Chile.

The challenge focuses on three fundamental areas, such as the interruption in the supply of water for daily use and the low temperatures in the classrooms, providing the opportunity to introduce renewable energy:

Water : Design a system that ensures the availability of water when interruptions occur due to lack of pressure in the general network.

Thermal comfort : Design and select insulating materials to ensure thermal comfort and a heating system that complements it. The aim is to improve the temperature that, inside the classrooms, drops excessively during classes, up to values from 5 to 8ºC.

3. Energy : Search for energy sources for these new consumptions that contribute to the sustainability of the school, and, as far as possible, lead to self-consumption.

Participation in this innovation challenge is open to professionals and companies, technology centers, start-ups, engineers, or academics at a national and international level, individually or in teams. Those interested in participating can register at , where you can learn more about the challenge and download information about the schools. Colbún will offer up to 15,000 USD in total for prizes to the winning solutions and the deadline to submit proposals is August 28, 2023.

About the “Transforming Schools” program

“Transforming Schools” is the pilot project developed by Colbún, which seeks to support rural schools in areas where the company is present, with the aim of contributing to their transformation through sustainable and innovative solutions that respond to real needs.

The initiative will benefit, in a first stage, the Río Colorado school in the San Esteban commune, and the Abel Guerrero school in the town of San Pedro, in the Quillota commune, through the search for solutions related to water efficiency, thermal comfort, and energy.

“At Colbún, we are seeking to generate social innovation in energy and water issues for rural schools in our territories. In this context, we have contacted 2 schools close to our operations in the Valparaíso Region to, together with them, seek solutions to real needs in the field of sustainability, which improve the conditions in which these schools provide education. We trust that there will be a lot of participation in the dialogue with these schools in order to efficiently improve the quality of life of both school communities”, said Colbún’s Corporate Affairs Manager, Pedro Vial.

For his part, Pablo Díaz, Director of the Abel Guerrero School, pointed out that ” we have had two meetings to identify the challenges that these solutions could address in the school, such as the insulation of spaces or heating, especially today, during the winter season. It is essential to start these projects to carry out effective changes within the school, according to the existing needs, and innovation plays a fundamental role. We hope that everything will develop in a positive way in order to provide a better quality of life for our students and staff; as well as deliver a better educational service, which is, broadly speaking, the purpose of this project”.

Meanwhile, the Director of the Río Colorado School, Johnny Boisleve, explained that “participating in the program is a real contribution to the proper functioning of the lectures and the educational development of the children. It is a huge joy, since we raise some needs that we have in our establishment. The first one is to design a system that ensures constant water availability, since, many times, the supply is interrupted because we belong to an APR (Rural Drinking Water system) and, due to emergencies or system outages, classes are interrupted. The second focus is thermal comfort, since we are from a sector of the mountains where we have low temperatures and there are rooms with a subsoil that creates a lot of humidity and we have to interrupt the class or heat the sector to be able to return to normality.”

About Colbun

Colbún SA is a Chilean company specialized in the electricity generation. It has 26 generation plants scattered around Chile and one in Peru, through which it has a total installed capacity of 3,884 MW distributed in different types of generation technologies. The company also owns 941 kilometers of transmission lines and a total of just over 1,000 workers. 

About ennomotive

ennomotive is an open engineering innovation platform with a community of +20,000 engineers and startups from all over the world. We solve challenges related to new products and industrial processes, operational efficiency, sustainability, and the environment. We take open innovation to its highest level, breaking down the traditional geographical and sectoral barriers and increasing the probability of success in the most complex technological projects.

Our platform provides a methodology proven in more than 100 challenges and an “agile” digital process for the global scouting of solutions, technology validation, and definition of business models.

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