Max Hidalgo

Born in Huancavelica, this biologist has just won the “An Idea to Change History” international contest in Mexico, which will provide inexpensive drinking water to the poorest places.

“I study living beings and nature, so I realised some time ago that everything we need is precisely in nature!”

Are you aware that most young people have no interest in what you do?

You can invent based on your own approach. For example, in Africa, there is an initiative that also condenses water from air, but it does so from the point of view of architecture. I, on the other hand, study living beings and nature, so I realised some time ago that everything we need is precisely in nature! By using biological principles and interrelations, we can solve our daily problems.

The interest in science comes from home.

Yes, we were always encouraged to be creative at home. Since I was very young, my mom taught me how to put things together, how to be independent. She would just let me be myself and set no limits, while at the same time taking care of me.

And the will to develop a social initiative, where did it come from?

We all have to do our bit for society, to solve the problems that may arise. It is a goal that we all should have in common, do you not agree? Because we are here, at this moment, to coexist in an appropriate way and respect nature. There must be equity; and part of it means that we can all have quality water.

You visited Chosica, encountered that reality and said to yourself, “I have to do something”.


How come? What was the first thing that came to your mind?

I thought, “How can I take water to these places, which are difficult to access and whose inhabitants have little money?” First, I came up with a machine that condensed water but needed electrical power, as well as refrigerant gases that are contaminants. Then I worked with thermoelectric devices called Peltier Cells, but to work they needed high wind currents and electrical systems, which would raise costs and use batteries that are also pollutants.

It is best to use what is in nature: What do we have in nature? Air, humidity. Solving something big does not necessarily require something very technological. The thing is to achieve something big from something simple. While thinking of an option –like airships to condense the air– I saw a child play with a small paper mill.


In Chosica, in one of our field trips. I saw him and I thought, “A windmill? And why not a wind turbine!"

“Solving something big does not necessarily require something very technological”

This idea, did you share it with someone else or was everything happening just in your head?

I did not talk to anyone about it (laughs) ... I wanted to have a well-grounded idea to summon the people and have a greater impact.

By then you were already part of Incubadora 1551.

Yes, I have been part of it since last year. It is part of the San Marcos Challenge. Several companies come to the campus and share their problems with the public, which puts its knowledge to the test by putting forward a solution. We –we, the team, met in Incubadora 1551– gave a proposal for the Petroperú challenge and solved it. We won the challenge.

It is the same team with which you have developed Yawa.

Yes. At first, we were five for the Petroperú challenge, but it was too big, so we needed the contribution of more people with other majors. It consisted in generating ecobusiness from renewable energies in Talara (Piura), which is an area that lacks water.

With them you made the CIS Team.

Right, the initials of Science, Innovation and Solution in Spanish.

You even summoned people from other universities.

Yes, and now we are 32 people from sixteen different careers and from five universities. We work on different types of projects.

How did you become part of the “An Idea to Change History” contest of the History Channel?

I had been developing this project at home, in my spare time, which was not much because I had a job, when I knew about the initiative of the History Channel, which was looking for social projects. I applied; there is no harm in trying. They called me a month later to tell me I was a semifinalist. I certainly did not expect that!

Your colleagues from CIS still did not know anything.

I had already told them a little about it, because we were participating in the Perú Resiliente Challenge then, for which we wanted to develop a machine that would provide water in case of disaster. Then we got together and started working on this project.

By the time this interview is made public, the winner of the contest will be known. The History Channel has chosen ten semi-finalists and now the public is voting on the website for the best five inventions; you are now first.

There are ten semi-finalists, only five will be the winners and we are first now thanks to the support of Peruvians. We have caught a lot of interest.

In Peru, the “culture of the sly” is usually celebrated, of those who do the least possible and benefit from the effort of others. But you work hard and have team spirit, you are showing that studying and doing your best is worth it.

Being in this team has shown us that Peruvians are very creative but also that their creativity is not being properly used. Now there are quite a few start-ups, teams of young people who develop highly innovative projects, not only in Lima, but also throughout the Peruvian coast, highland and rainforest. All they need is to be given the conditions to develop their projects.

“We found that people did not get good-quality water, that there was presence of microorganisms and parasites. We realised that a way to provide quality water was needed”

You, for example, are from Huancavelica.

Yes, and I want to encourage young people from there, so that they know that this type of projects can be done.

And that you do not need large amounts of money.

We always have to find the easiest way to do things. We cannot wait until we have all the resources, but we have to work based on what we already have. Simple is always better.

And you have resorted to something as “simple” as air.

We do not have to limit ourselves. We cannot give excuses. We always have to keep going, using what we have in our environment to achieve the goal.

How was the experience of working as a team?

Our team is incredible. We are from different careers and all have the disposition to develop and promote this type of initiatives.

You all have broken another paradigm: you have entrusted your idea to them and, as a team, everyone is working to make it a reality.

We are fully aware that teamwork is necessary if we want to reach a goal. CIS is already one year old, and we have learned that everything turns out all right when we work as a team. We have won different challenges: 24 Horas de Innovación Perú, Expoferia de Eficiencia Energética, the Perú Resiliente Challenge, the Petroperú Challenge... and it was possible thanks to our team spirit. When someone has a problem, they call on the rest and we give our support. The same happens in nature: no living being is isolated, they need others to survive and move forward.

Studying at school Chemistry or Physics is not boring at all, is it?

Absolutely not! Basic courses help us understand nature. Everything is born from it! You have to learn to watch it carefully and learn from it. Only then we will be able to solve our problems and live in harmony, without harming nature.