Aidex Voices

The AidEx Aid Innovation Challenge has been won by Zéphyr Solar on 15 November in Brussels at AidEx 2017 for their invention, the Zéphyr Solar Balloon –  a solar powered balloon helping to bring renewable energy services quickly to isolated, disaster-stricken areas without any need for infrastructure.  

The winning innovation was pitched by Julie Dautel, the co-founder of Zéphyr Solar and was judged at a Live Final by four reputable entrepreneurs and received a €2000 prize and a free exhibition stand for AidEx 2018. 

About the winner

Zéphyr Solar is a French start-up developing solar balloons that help bring energy and services quickly to isolated sites.

After a disaster, providing access to electricity brings a tangible solution to powering a makeshift hospital, supplying water-pumps and creating telecommunication networks to synchronise rescue. There must be energy that is quick to install, easy to set up and reliable. 

To do this, Zéphyr Solar developed lightweight solar panels - technology integrated on top of solar balloons. They produce enough energy to power ground activities and supply on-board equipment, such as communication antennas or cameras.

The electricity is transmitted through a cable to a technical box where it is transformed and stored to further power various equipment at all hours.

The Aid Innovation Challenge is one of the most exciting competitions at AidEx as it sets out to discover the most innovative, new design that will help improve the efficient delivery of aid and improve lives.

french solar wins AIC


The other three shortlists that were presented included:

Pump Aid who will be presenting the Rainmaker - a low cost rope and washer irrigation pump for small scale farmers in Malawi which helps poor rural communities improve access to water.

Prasoon Kumae of billionBricks presented the WeatherHYDE - the world’s only reversible, all-season family tent which is a dignified and life-saving humanitarian shelter system, designed specifically to protect the homeless and displaced from extreme weather.

E’CHLO, designed by Photalia will follow - a solar-powered electro-chlorination tool which can treat water or be used as a disinfectant. It is a ready-to-use kit that does not require a battery or converter.

AidEx is a must-attend conference for the aid and development community. This event takes place alongside satellite conferences in Nairobi and Dhaka. Visit for more information.