‘Mass’ Lighting for the Developing World

When you have done the hard work of developing an innovative product, one of the greatest challenges you will face is in telling the world about it.  Fortunately for GJE client Deciwatt, help was at hand from an unexpected source in the form of the world’s most famous entrepreneur…

In 2013 Bill Gates tweeted his support for GravityLightTM, a low-cost lighting solution for the developing world:


Support for the The GravityLight Foundation has continued to snowball ever since, with their Indiegogo campaigns [1][2]attracting over 11,000 supporters so far.

In partnership with Deciwatt, The GravityLight Foundation’s mission is to provide an alternative lighting solution to replace the use of kerosene lighting in the developing world.  An estimated 20% of the world’s population do not have access to electricity at home and many of these people rely on the use of make-shift kerosene lamps to light their homes.  These lamps can have a devastating impact on the lives of those who use them.  The World Bank estimates 780 million women and children breathe kerosene fumes in their daily lives, equivalent to inhaling 40 cigarettes a day.  In India alone 1.5 million people suffer severe burns each year, primarily due to overturned kerosene lamps. Their use also creates a poverty trap, as amongst the poorest populations the kerosene required consumes up to 30% of household incomes.

It is not difficult to see therefore why support for finding a viable alternative to kerosene lighting has been mounting.  Last year Deciwatt was named the Shell Springboard National Winner for their GravityLightTM innovation and awarded £150,000 to help scale-up their business and bring their product onto the market.

GravityLightTM converts the potential energy from a raised mass into electricity, which is used to generate light from a low-cost, portable unit.  Although a simple concept in principle, the difficult part comes in how to generate a useful amount of power for an extended period. GravityLightTM does just that and has been shown to be an innovative game-changer which delivers several advantages over solutions which rely instead on solar panels or batteries.

In response to feedback obtained from field trials across 26 different countries, Deciwatt has continued to innovate and refine their invention so as to make it as attractive an option as possible to those on incomes as low as $3 (USD) a day.

GJE’s involvement with Deciwatt

Michael Lord/Michael Vallance (patents team) and Alasdair MacQuarrie/Edward Carstairs (trade marks team) have worked with Deciwatt on providing an intellectual property strategy to protect the IP in their GravityLightTM brand and in the innovative technology upon which their product is based.

When developing an IP strategy there are many factors to take into account including key customer markets, manufacturing bases, competitor presence, contract/licence potential, marketing strategy and more, remembering at the same time to consider how these may evolve in the future during the lifetime of the IP.

In the case of GravityLightTM the IP strategy is necessarily unusual. The target market in terms of consumers comprises countries within the developing world which are simply not on the radar of most applicants. Fortunately GJE was well positioned to help. Having been on the international IP stage for over 100 years our network of local attorney contacts extends to all corners of the world. And it is not just contacts that matter, it is having enough contacts and the experience of working with them that allows us to be confident we can deliver the best IP service for our clients in whichever parts of the world they choose to protect their IP. It is particularly the case in developing nations that there is no real harmonisation of IP laws and so the advice of local attorneys who are familiar with the nuances of the local law is invaluable. GJE’s focus is upon delivering strong IP rights for GravityLightTM in these regions according to their IP strategy.

Meanwhile for GravityLightTM the success story continues. The GravityLight Foundation has recently turned their attention to setting up a local manufacturing base in Kenya. Ultimately this will have a lasting impact by making the GravityLightTM product more accessible and help improve the lives of those living in communities in the region.

GJE is proud to continue to support Deciwatt and The GravityLight Foundation in achieving their mission. If you would like to know more then please do get in touch with The GravityLight Foundation at info@gravitylight.org or your usual GJE contact.

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