APOPO

Shortlisted Candidate in Switzerland

Detection rats

APOPO is a social enterprise that researches, develops and implements Detection Rats Technology for humanitarian purposes such as Mine Action and Tuberculosis detection, in Africa and South East Asia, using the extremely developed sense of smell of African Giant Pouched Rats.

The Problem

APOPO notably adresses two of the current deadliest threats - landmines (more than 60 countries still affected) and tuberculosis (world deadliest infectious disease).

Occuring mostly in developing countries, those threats are a systemic impediment, slowiing development and implying expensive and often imported technologies. This reality prompted us to acknowledge the necessity for a more innovative and cost-effective solution.

The Solution

Our solution is the development of an innovative scent detection technology, using African Pouched Rats (nicknamed HeroRats) and their extraordinary sense of smell. The rats can safely sniff out both landmines and tuberculosis in affected countries, giving back their land to local communities, and stopping the spread of a highly infectious disease. 

In both domains where APOPO is active, using rats for detection can replace otherwise expensive solutions, since the rats are locally available, easy to train and house, and extremely time-efficient (it takes a rat 20 minutes to complete a task which would take 1-4 days for a lab technician or a human mine-clearer).