The winners of the 13th Rolex Awards for Enterprise


Rolex today announced the ten winners of the 2008 Rolex Awards for Enterprise, which for more than 30 years have supported pioneering work in science and medicine, technology and innovation, exploration and discovery, the environment and cultural heritage. The award recipients hail from around the globe – from India, Jordan, Mexico, Paraguay, South Africa, the Philippines, the United Kingdom and the United States – and join a global network of 110 visionaries from 38 countries who have received vital project support and recognition from the Swiss watchmaker since the Awards were founded in 1976. The Rolex Awards fund new and ongoing projects that demonstrate a spirit of enterprise and address pressing needs around the world, from climate change, to wildlife and habitat preservation, to cultural preservation, to providing water, food, medical supplies and education for impoverished communities. Rolex will present US$100,000 each to five Laureates, who are honored today in a ceremony in Dubai – the first ever Rolex Awards ceremony held in the Middle East. Five Associate Laureates will each receive $50,000 at ceremonies in their home countries. All ten winners will also receive a Rolex chronometer.

“The Rolex Awards for Enterprise enable the work of global pioneers who are breaking new ground in their fields, and improving lives worldwide,” said Patrick Heiniger, Chief Executive Officer of Rolex. “We are proud to support these truly original thinkers, and salute them for their ingenuity and commitment of purpose.” The 2008 Rolex Laureates – chosen from nearly 1,500 applicants in 127 countries by an independent panel of scientists, educators, economists and other experts – are:

  • Talal Akasheh (Jordan), 61, who, after devoting 26 years to documenting the ancient monuments of Petra, is creating an information system that will inform future conservation efforts at this beloved, yet threatened, historic site.
  • Tim Bauer (U.S.), 31, who is using breakthrough technology to retrofit polluting twostroke vehicle engines that are common in the Philippines, helping to alleviate a major environmental and public-health risk in South-East Asia.
  • Andrew McGonigle (U.K.), 35, a physicist who is developing a new means to safely and reliably predict volcanic eruptions using an unmanned aircraft.
  • Andrew Muir (South Africa), 43, a conservationist providing AIDS orphans with life skills, training, and jobs in South Africa’s burgeoning ecotourism sector.
  • Elsa Zaldívar (Paraguay), 48, who is bringing an eco-friendly solution to her country’s housing shortage by creating composite building materials made of plant and plastic waste to construct affordable housing.

The 2008 Rolex Associate Laureates are: Alexis Belonio (Philippines), 48, creator of a new technology that transforms the waste from rice production into clean, affordable cooking fuel; Arturo Gonzalez (Mexico), 44, an explorer and researcher excavating archaeological remains in submerged caves or cenotes on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula; Rodrigo Medellin (Mexico), 50, who is working to save Mexico’s indigenous bats through habitat protection and education; Moji Riba (India), 36, a film-maker helping to preserve and document the rich cultural heritage of India’s Arunachal Pradesh tribes; and Romulus Whitaker (India), 65, a lifelong conservationist who is establishing a network of rainforest research stations to document and protect the biodiversity of southern India.