How one spark of an idea can light up the world


Every so often an idea comes along that stops you in your tracks. sOccket did this for me (great name too – so smart and simple). It’s an incredible demonstration of the power of a simple idea, of the collision between science and sport, of the application of minds to mending hearts.

One part soccer ball, one part portable energy generator, another community builder and finally one part global health tool, this deceptively simple solution is a persuasive demonstration of how possible it is to build a brighter future for those in greatest need.

The four inventors, ladies at Harvard, deservedly won the Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Invention award. The technology itself is fantastic, but harnessing it to the most popular sport in the world that is played throughout the Third World, that is just brilliant. Advertising always use sport and music to transcend cultural, language and even religious differences. Here, football’s popularity is used to literally change lives.

Their brand partners also share the limelight. Whizzkids United, the Harvard Institute for Global Health and the Clinton Global Intiative University serve as a model for the incubation and facilitation of meaningful ideas.

Every company with an IT or R&D department has the same opportunity. Take Nike’s partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative around the Girl Effect Project, for example. Womens’ health and education are two pillars of community building and economic renewal in the Third World and Nike re-brands poverty to raise awareness and support for both. As Maria Eitel, Founding CEO and President of the Nike Foundation, stated:

This is the most attention that adolescent girls and poverty have ever gotten. It can have a profound transformational impact on adolescent girls, which can change the trajectory of their world. It’s exciting to see.

Brands must realize that its not just how much money you make but what you make possible that counts. Such initiatives will win you legions of loyal fans and customers. But the inspiration you’ll provide to others is invaluable. So congrats to the sOccket team and here’s to more brands following the the footsteps of Nike. (Check out the new Girl Effect video here launched at CGI.)

Do you think companies should use their resources to help develop new ideas like this? Or is their only duty to shareholders?