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INDEX: Design to Improve Life is a Danish nonprofit organisation which works towards promoting designs aimed at the improvement of people's lives worldwide, both in developed and developing countries.[1]

Established in 2002, INDEX: Design to Improve Life was initially proposed by designer Johan Adam Lindeballe and Danish Permanent Secretary Jørgen Rosted, as a world design event in order to promote Denmark on a global scale, as well as attract tourism and investments.[2] However, it soon acquired a global perspective and its mission has become expressed in its motto: "Design to Improve Life".[1][3]

The organisation is under the patronage of the Crown Prince of Denmark and is supported by the Danish Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs. Design to Improve Life is promoted by means of the design award (INDEX: Award), a world-touring exhibition, a summer camp, conferences, and publications.[4]

INDEX: Award[edit]

The biennial INDEX: Award was initiated in 2005, financed by the state of Denmark with a total prize sum of 500,000 euros. It is currently the world's largest monetary award in the area of design. The INDEX: Award presentation has become a major event, with an exhibition of the finalists sited in public squares of hosting cities.[3]

Projects from all over the world are nominated for the award with finalists and winners determined by an international jury chosen by the INDEX: Design to Improve Life organization. In addition to choosing the successful designs, the INDEX: Award Jury plays a key role in the organization, constantly discussing, evaluating and advocating for strategies to expand the borders and impact of design in the world.

Award winners[edit]


INDEX: Award 2013 broke all previous records by receiving an unprecedented 1.022 entries for the competition from more than 80 countries all over the world. The winners were:

  • Community Category; Daan Roosegaarde – “Smart Highway”, intelligent roads that communicate with its drivers promoting both traffic safety and traffic efficiency
  • Food Category; Kavita Shukla – “FreshPaper”, a revolutionary and simple sheet of paper keeping produce fresh 4 times longer.
  • Body Category; Laerdal Global Health – “The Natalie Collection”, a trio of birth simulating devices preventing child and maternal death.
  • Community Category; The city of Copenhagen – “Copenhagen Climate Adaptation Plan”, the Danish capital’s pioneering plan of how to address the changing climate.
  • The Play & Learning Category; Eben Upton, University of Cambridge – “Raspberry Pi” – a $25 computer aiming to digitalize the whole world.
  • People’s Choice Award: “Smart Highway” after a close vote on


In 2011, INDEX: Award received 966 nominations from 78 countries of which the INDEX: Award Jury selected 60 finalists to participate in the global INDEX: Award 2011 Exhibition. The winners were:

  • Body Category: Yves Behar - "See Better to Learn Better (VerBien)", free eyeglasses for thousands of school children.
  • Home Category: Alejandro Aravena, Fernando García-Huidobro and Gonzalo Arteaga - "ELEMENTAL Monterrey", social housing in a ground breaking new way.
  • Work Category: Kiran Bir Sethi & Pranay Desai - "Design for Change", a global movement designed to give children the opportunity to express their own ideas for a better world and put them into action.
  • Play Category: Anna Haupt & Terese Alstin - "Hövding", a bicycle "helmet"/airbag to wear as a collar.
  • Community Category: Seoul Metropolitan Government - "Design Seoul", the first ever coherent design based approach to improve life for citizens in a very large city.
  • People's Choice Award: Linus Liang, Naganand Murty, Rahul Panicker and Jane Chen - "Embrace Infant Warmer", thermal regulation infant warmer for premature and underweight born children.


In 2009, there were over 700 nominations (720) from 54 countries.[3][5] The winners were:

  • Body Category: Philip Goodwin, Stefan Zwahlen and John Hutchinson - "Freeplay Fetal Heart Rate Monitor", a heart rate monitor to safeguard childbirth for mothers and infants in remote areas of the developing world where expert care and electrical power are in short supply.
  • Home Category: Philips Design - "Chulha", a stove designed to limit the dangerous health issues caused by traditions of indoor cooking in many rural areas of the developing world.
  • Work Category: - "Kiva", a website developed to bring lenders and small entrepreneurs together to aggregate loans into a major center of person-to-person micro-finance.
  • Play Category: Christien Meindertsma - "Pig 05049", a book containing a communications design developed in three years of research to track all the products made from a single pig.
  • Community Category: Shai Agassi - "Better Place", electric vehicle infra-structure to make electric transport convenient and affordable.
  • People's Choice Award: Jean Madden - "Street Swags", a bed and a bag designed to provide more comfort, warmth and protection from weather for people living on the street.


In 2007, INDEX: Award received 337 nominations. The winners were:

  • Body Category: Sebastien Dubois - "Mobility for Each One", an energy-return prosthetic foot that can been produced for $8 in a local workshop versus the standard $1,300 to $4,000.
  • Home Category: Alberto Meda and Francisco Gomez Paz - "Solar Bottle", a low cost water purification bottle.
  • Work Category: Philip Greer, Lisa Stroux, Graeme Davies and Chris Huntley - "Tongue Sucker", a simple device, easy to use in an emergency to draw to tongue of an unconscious person, make the airway unobstructed and hence assist CPR in time-critical situations.
  • Play Category: Elon Musk, Martin Eberhard and Barney Hatt - "Tesla Roadster" a 100% electrical powered sports car with zero emissions and power cost approximately 2 cents per mile.
  • Community Category: Rebecca Allen, Christopher Blizzard, V. Michael Bove, Yves Behar, Sergio Romero de Azevedo, Walter Bender, Michail Bletsas, Mark Foster, Jacques Gagne, Mary Lou Jepson, Nicholas Negroponte and Lisa Strausfeld, - the affordable "XO Laptop".
  • People's Choice Award: Han Pham - "Antivirus", a cap to be placed onto a soda can to be used for safe disposal of hypodermic needles in low income countries, where these needles are commonly found in trash and thus increase the rates of transmission of diseases and needle injuries.


The winners were chosen from more than 500 nominees representing 50 countries[6] The winners were:

  • Body Category: Torben Vestergaard Frandsen, Rob Fleuren and Moshe Frommer - "LifeStraw", a plastic straw that cleans contaminated water to prevent diseases such as diphtheria, cholera, typhoid and diarrhoea from spreading through drinking water.
  • Home Category: Stephanie Forsythe & Todd MacAllen - "Softwall", a 100% recyclable wall to generate personal space in larger rooms.
  • Work Category: Fundación Española para la Innovación de la Artesanía - "Observatorio Iberoamericano", a stragy, system and network designed to help over 40 million craftsmen in Latin America.
  • Play Category: Apple - "iTunes", a revolution within the music industry and Digital Rights Management (DRM).
  • Community Category: Architecture for Humanity - "Siyathemba", a competition for designers and architects to incorporate football into HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment via a combined football field and health-care facility.
  • People's Choice Award: Apple - "iTunes".

Key people[edit]

  • Johan Adam Lindeballe, initiator
  • Jørgen Rosted, initiator
  • Kigge Hvid, founding CEO