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Lexus awards $10K to each 2024 ‘Design with Purpose’ winner

Three designs offering solutions to health and environmental issues won the 2024 Lexus “Design with Purpose” program, an initiative carried out by the car brand over the past three years to help foster solutions to social challenges. 

The program promotes innovation and social commitment through design. Lexus says that design transcends “superficial aesthetics; it is the ability to create projects that connect, integrate, simplify and transmit solutions.” 

This year, each entrepreneur behind the projects RIO, Dosage Indicator Medicine Cap (DIMC), and BRICK was awarded a $10,000 prize.

“Facing environmental, health, mobility and education challenges, entrepreneurs are well-positioned to design a better future. The creativity of this year’s winners is inspirational and reaffirms Lexus’ dedication to innovation and social responsibility through design,” Jaycie Dane, vice president of operations and general manager of Lexus Puerto Rico, remarked. “In this third year, there were three entrepreneurs with ideas that demonstrate how design, complemented with social awareness, results in functional projects that contribute to our community.”

Dr. Rosael Zeno-Santi was among the winners with her RIO app, designed for managing self-harm behaviors. Originating from concerns about the prevalence of this behavior among university students at the University of Puerto Rico’s Río Piedras campus, RIO, developed by Zeno-Santi and her team at the school, offers an innovative, accessible and safe approach for the affected population. The $10,000 prize will enhance RIO 1.0 with advanced functionalities for an improved user experience and support the launch of version 2.0.

Created by entrepreneur Nelson G. Frontany-Collazo, DIMC is a medicine bottle cap featuring an integrated dosage indicator band, designed to improve medication adherence by addressing forgetfulness. Inspired by Frontany-Collazo’s personal experiences and daily challenges, the award will support the development of functional prototypes and the final design’s testing.

Francisco Guillermo Susmel and Sergio Ortiz-Pagán were awarded for their BRICK design, a construction block made from recyclable materials. In response to the necessity of adapting construction to climate change challenges, Susmel and Ortiz-Pagán developed building materials founded on ecological and social principles. The award will fund prototype production and testing to identify the optimal materials for local building requirements.

“It is a significant and essential responsibility to design for a better tomorrow. We are excited to witness the realization of these ideas and their eventual impact on our community,” Dane stated at the award ceremony.

The projects, which should be developed within a year, were evaluated by a jury of experts in various fields. The panel included Jocelyn Capeles from Fundación Comunitaria de Puerto Rico, Katerina Sánchez from Grupo Guayacán, professor Robin Planas from the UPR School of Architecture, designer Bea Rodríguez-Suárez, Lexus’ publicist in Puerto Rico Saskia Gómez, and Angélica M. Rubí-Figueroa and Mily Hernández from the public relations firm Comstat.

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