The Challenge

Over three billion people worldwide use traditional biomass for cooking, causing 4 million deaths annually. Besides severe negative health impacts, there are several environmental and climate related issues associated with this style of cooking, including CO2 emissions, soot and deforestation. Those worse effected are refugees and migrants, for which 80-90% rely on biomass for cooking, space-heating and lighting.

This issue mostly affects people who lack access to electricity or depend on extremely unreliable supply (accounting for two billion people). Grid extensions to rural or remote areas is often expensive and providing electricity to households in refugee camps logistically challenging. To address this issue now and untimatelly achieve Sustainable Development Goal 7, innovative solutions need to be developed which can replace the need for biomass.


The goal of this challenge is to produce a working cookstove protype which is safe, reliable and clean (does not cause adverse health effects). The stove should adequately replace an open fuel fire in terms of cooking effectiveness and be suitable in an offgrid or refugee context.

Solar electric cooking solutions have been tested in rural and humanitarian settings, however uptake has been limited due to intermittency of the sun, storage, convenience, price and low cooking performance. Participants are encouraged to pursue a solution which most innovatively achieves the challenge goal.


Project Team

Alfio Paçkolli

Alfio is originally from Albania and he currently is a graduate Student of Electrical Engineering at the RWTH Aachen, Germany. He also obtained his bachelor degree from RWTH, with a thesis on determining the Cardiac Output of the heart, using Electrical Impedance Tomography. Other main areas of interest include: programming, robotics, system control and automation. When not tinkering with electronics or completing math assignments, Alfio enjoys practicing foreign languages and playing tennis.

Carmen Marigiotta

Carmen has recently received her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and International Development from the University of Sussex in Brighton, UK. Her passions range from indigenous and LGBTQ+ rights to board games and movies, but she is in the midst of a self-discovery journey in order to find her one true call to base her future on. Carmen has had the chance to study and live abroad many times and she is excited to see where life will take her and who she will become.

Cecilia Ragazzi

Chiara Picarelli

Chiara is an Infectious diseases and Tropical medicine resident at University Hospital ŅAgostino GemelliÓ in Rome. She chose this path in order to assist a too often neglected category of patients (both socially and geographically), but the more she does, the more she realizes that a lot more is needed. She believes that only multi-disciplinary teams can solve challenges that can contribute to a better future. She is committed to recycling and sustainable and environmentally responsible habits, loves traveling and exploring new cultures, reading, walking through nature, viking metal bands. She has a beautiful son, named Nicola.

Christa Roth

Nikos Chrysogelos

Nikos is an electrical engineer currently working and residing in Zurich at a drone start-up specialized for firefighters. His background is energy systems and electronics while he has worked for research institutes, private corporations and has founded a smart-meter start-up with focus in energy efficiency. In the past years he has been involved and volunteered for NGOs in Greece, Kenya and Nepal. He is passionate about clean energy, environmental problems and the refugee crisis in Europe. During his free time you can find him playing team sports, wandering in the mountains, watching/playing (impro) theatre or discussing about politics.

Oliver Paul

Oliver is a mechanical engineer currently working in the Future of Energy team at the World Economic Forum in Geneva. Oliver has experience across the tech startup scene, offshore oil and gas exploration and in the disaster response NGO sector, having worked within a number of disaster zones between Peru and the Philippines. A lover of the mountains; Oliver is also a passionate paraglider pilot, kite-surfer, skier and alpinist.

Paula Ghergu

Saco Heijboer

Saco is both a thinker and a tinkerer. Designing and making things in which functionality and form come together and complete the whole is his goal. Product development has been his passion and profession for 30 years; he has led projects for train refurbishment, production machinery and measurement equipment, always searching for new ways to solve design problems. Saco’s education covers civil, mechanical and control engineering, sociology, art, photography and graphic design. And he still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.

Simona Kriva

Simona is a proactive and committed global citizen with a passion for community engagement and collaboration. She obtained her Master’s Degree in International Relations at the University of Economics in Bratislava and is currently responsible for the admin and outreach matters of the Neutrino Platform at CERN. She is very passionate about various topics, from environmental justice, women empowerment to self-development. She loves books, foreign languages, mountains, volunteering and yoga.

Victoria Tianyi Wang

Victoria is a young professional with a master’s degree in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute Geneva. She is a firm believer in the power of change and immense willingness of the private sector in contributing to building a better world and has been devoting the past few years working to connecting the needs of the humanitarian and development organizations to the innovative solutions and the resources that the private sector offers. For her own research, she explores around the use of technology for education in emergencies. Based in Geneva, she helps humanitarian and development agencies build and manage partnerships to lift people out of poverty, especially women and children in need. Before moving to Geneva, she worked at the Consulate General of Italy in Shanghai and its affiliated Education Centre. She loves volunteering, painting, bouldering, and scuba diving.