pitch up entry

PitchUp at the Small is... Festival 2012

The Small is... Festival presents you with an extraordinary occasion to think small about the world's big challenges and take part in the PitchUp Innovation award.

The Small is... Festival is an annual gathering hosted by two international development and technology charities: Engineers Without Borders (UK) and Practical Action. It brings together the curious minds of experts, activists, students and families from around the world to get inspired about sustainable living, international development and appropriate technologies. In short, this is a festival essential to the future of the planet, so where better to host the 2012 PitchUp innovation award!

Amidst a weekend brimming with hands-on workshops, high energy music and inspiring debates in the stunning grounds of Bourton Hall, Warwickshire from 31 August to 2 September, the PitchUp competition invites you to present an idea that will help to alleviate poverty or improve lives in developing countries.

Emerging from a legacy

The award, along with the festival itself, has emerged from the legacy of the economist and founder of Practical Action, E.F. Schumacher. Schumacher’s book entitled Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics as if People Mattered (1973) is considered one of the most influential books ever published and remains as relevant today as it ever was.

Amongst the giddy pioneers of his age, Schumacher called for people to think rationally about the future of the world and to channel technological advances toward using sustainable resources freely offered to us by the earth. He not only foresaw a looming crisis of resource shortages and climatic deformity, he also found it deplorable that technology evolved to satisfy the whims of the rich and not the desperate needs of the poor.

Intermediate technologies

Today it is shocking that more money is spent on finding a cure for baldness than developing a vaccine for Malaria. Hence Schumacher’s fascination with intermediate technologies, which defy the homogenous application of expensive technologies, and are instead designed for poor peoples’ localised needs.

The effects of adapting would be twofold; first we could stabilise the future of the planet and its resources. Secondly, consider the knock-on global economic effects: if a person living on the equator can make the sun into fuel, she has an unfathomable power source. If someone living in the desert can learn to harness the wind, he has unending access to free energy. Perhaps sustainable power could become the great global equaliser of our time.

Enter the PitchUp award

The PitchUp award aims to project these ideas into reality. Whether your skill is engineering, product design, business planning, creative thinking, consider this your personal Small is... invitation to PitchUp at the festival and present your idea.

To enter, simply submit a two-minute video presentation that shares how your innovation can usher in positive change. Think tackling poverty, utilising sustainable energy sources, overcoming obstacles to development, promoting economic welfare and social justice, or transferring technology across cultures.


Whether your idea is small or big, groundbreaking or incremental, we want to hear it. Our prizes include an internship, funding and mentoring to make your ideas a reality.

So, close your eyes, put down the keyboard, and begin the journey into the lesser trodden recesses of your mind. Search out and discover what it is that you can offer to make somebody else’s big obstacles in life just that little bit… smaller.

Festival workshops

And, while you’re at the festival, come and join your fellow festival goers in a choice of dozens of workshops from creating solar-panels out of recycled materials to learning the fundamentals of non-violent communication.

Try your hand at a bicycle blender, learn about African bees, join the yurt construction team, sample the delicious fare on offer and at the end of the day come and dance it out! You don’t need expertise to get stuck in with the workshops either; with a wide range of activities accessible to all we are open to anyone who wants to be involved.

For further details on the PitchUp Award email Pitchup@ewb-uk.org. Deadline for entries is 6 August.

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