Innovate for Impact

Why Siemens is launching Innovate for Impact: Use our software to reimagine the future of food and water

By: Barbara Humpton, CEO, Siemens USA

I’m a firm believer in the power of technology and human ingenuity to solve big problems. So you can imagine my excitement for the new design challenge Siemens is launching with Engineering for Change, a community within the American Society of Mechanical Engineers.


Called Innovate for Impact, what we’re setting out to do is address two of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted by the United Nations five years ago – specifically, zero hunger and clean water and sanitation. In our view, by equipping enterprising minds around the world – from academia to NGOs to industry – with the tools of a top-10 global software company, we can jumpstart needed breakthroughs.


The SDGs are ambitious. They were enacted as a “universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure that all people enjoy peace and prosperity” by the year 2030. With only a decade left to go, we’ve simply got to work faster to reach them.   


So we’re turning to the technology that has already enabled us to expand what’s humanly possible, like landing a rover on Mars or delivering medicines via drone to remote areas of Rwanda. Our software is being used every day by companies around the world to transform industry in the consumer world. What if we also saw these tools as game-changers in global development? What if we used the same capabilities for accelerating speed to market to accelerate speed to society for positive change?


That’s the bigger message we want this challenge to send. We’ve seen the significant progress made to improve quality of life in the developing world. Three decades ago, more than a third of the world lived in extreme poverty. By 2015, that rate had been reduced to 10 percent.


Just imagine what we could do now, with the software, data and connectivity we have today. How might we take these tools and apply them to solve healthcare challenges, or bring power to underserved communities, or provide for basic human needs like food and water? We could change billions of lives. 


And we could prepare for 2030, when 35 percent of the world is expected to live in water-stressed countries. We could meet that obstacle with innovations that offer reliable and clean drinking water. We could lower the percentage of food that’s lost or wasted with technology that enables better techniques in the harvest and processing phases.


At Siemens, we’ve always been focused on how we can use innovation to improve the world. That purpose has been at the center of our 172-year legacy, and it continues to serve as the foundation for our Business to Society mission today.


A little over a decade ago, we underwent our own digital transformation as a company. And since that time, we’ve witnessed the capacity for advances in computing and software to move us forward by leaps and bounds. As we look at the major megatrends impacting the world, from climate change to urbanization, we believe that it’s these cutting-edge tools that will draw us closer to sustainable solutions.


Which is where the Innovate for Impact challenge comes in: The program’s participants will be given access and training to Siemens Solid Edge virtual design software and a co-creation platform we developed with our Mendix technology for low-code application development.


They’ll be able to choose whether they want to address SDG 2: Zero Hunger and create an innovation design for reducing food loss and waste. Or they can choose SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation and create an innovation for desalinating water so that it’s suitable for drinking and farming.


The entries will then be judged, and over the summer we plan to announce the winners, who will each receive a $10,000 award and be matched with opportunities to further develop their design solutions.


I’m looking forward to seeing the ideas that emerge, and I’m encouraging my entire team at Siemens to take part. I hope you’ll join us. To learn more, please visit