In Depth

Rolex honours innovation at the Global Enterprise Awards

Ten trailblazers have been recognised by the Swiss watchmaker in the 40th anniversary of its international philanthropic programme

Many brands put their name to good causes, but Rolex's dedication to innovation, celebrated in its annual Global Enterprise Awards, is a more natural fit than most. Its history is littered with landmark achievements, from the first waterproof wristwatch to the first watch in the world to receive the Swiss Certificate of Chronometric Precision. Its sense of adventure has seen its timepieces journey from the deepest parts of the ocean to the top of Mount Everest and prepare to break the land-speed record.

Now in their 40th edition, the awards continue to pay tribute to the best and brightest across a number of different fields. This year saw a total of ten individuals honoured for work spanning technology, biology, engineering and more. The five laureates include Andrew Bastawrous from the UK, whose smartphone-based eye-examination system Peek Vision is revolutionising eye care in sub-Saharan Africa, and Irish mechanical and biomedical engineer Conor Walsh, who has developed a soft robotic suit that will aid physically impaired people, such as stroke sufferers, to walk without assistance.

Others have focused on environmental change. Biologist Kerstin Forsberg is protecting giant manta rays by helping fishermen pursue alternate sources of income, while Vreni Haussermann documents the unknown life at the bottom of Chilean Patagonia's fjords in an effort to support conservation in the area. Meanwhile, Indian engineer Sonam Wangchuk is aiming to solve the lack of water for agriculture in the western Himalayas through the use of "ice stupas" – artificial glaciers that slowly release water.

They join the young laureates, those under the age of 30 that have been recognised for tackling the societal issues of today. The five recognised include Oscar Ekponimo, whose app Chowberry monitors the lifecycle of food products in a bid to reduce waste and food poverty, and Japan-based Junto Ohki, who has also harnessed the power of technology to create crowd-sourced online sign-language database SLinto.

rolexawards.com

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