Photo by Charlotte Fiorito Photography 2012Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, in downtown San Jose, the Tech Museum of Innovation is a hands-on science museum that challenges visitors to explore and experience applied technologies affecting their lives.

One of its programs is the Tech Awards, an annual tradition since 2001 that recognizes global technological innovators for providing benefits in the environment, economic development, equality, education, and health.

The 11th annual ceremony occurred last week and it was an honor and a privilege for us to celebrate the hard work, dedication and commitment to the service of others that were reflected in all of the night’s laureates. Their creative spirit and passion inspire us all. I thank the Tech Museum for having the vision to create an event that highlights the practical application of technology in such a notable way.

Flextronics was pleased to sponsor the Economic Development Awards and honor the commitment it takes to make the world a better place — the commitment that these “techmanitarians” demonstrate with their unique talent, and passion for humanity. It is with wisdom and ingenuity that these laureates have created meaningful solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Let’s take a look at this year’s recipients.

The Grameen Foundation’s Community Knowledge Worker initiative trains people in Uganda to give rural farmers access to real-time accurate information about the weather, crop and animal diseases, agricultural best practices, and fair market prices for their goods.

The CKW network serves over 65,000 farmers in 8,800 villages.

University of California Davis professor Pamela Ronald with colleagues David Mackill and Kenong Xu, concerned with the impact of floods reducing the rice crop around the world, identified a “waterproof” gene nearly 20 years ago that can withstand floods.

They worked with breeders and farmers and created “Sub1 rice.” Considering rice provides up to 66% of the diet of most people in developing nations, Sub1 rice is now successful around the world.

“We are inspired by the laureates’ desire to improve the world through the creative use of technology and their perseverance to this end,” said Tim Ritchie, president of The Tech Museum. “Their lives and work serve as a challenge to us: Do we desire to make our work count for others, and are we willing to use our considerable assets to build a better world?”