Every year, innovators and entrepreneurs work together to combat various socio-economic, political, and environmental issues affecting the global community. Known as MIT Solve, Rafael Reif founded the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) initiative in 2015 to “solve world challenges” through a series of competitions.
“We will do more than talk about the greatest problems facing our world. We will set the course to solve them,” says Reif.
In February, MIT Solve announced this year’s Global Challenges, and is giving competitors until June 18, 2020 to submit proposals. Judges review the applications and finalists present their pitches at the Solve Challenge Finals held at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York City on September 20, 2020. Those with the “most promising solutions” receive a US$10,000 grant funded by MIT Solve. They also gain access to a variety of resources, such as human capital and potential partnerships that facilitate the launch of the proposal.
This year’s solutions for the Global Challenges must fall under one of the following categories: learning for girls and women, good jobs and inclusive entrepreneurship, maternal and newborn wealth, and sustainable food systems, which seeks to enhance the global food system, while lowering carbon emissions and promoting healthy diets. Thus far, submitted solutions range from the development of sustainable coffee processing to the installation of a beehive livelihood establishment in Nigeria and the Niger Delta.
In addition to the Global Challenges, MIT Solve releases other competitions, such as the T-Prize Challenge and the Rethink Plastics Challenge. Each tackles a specific topic from education innovation to plastic waste to better communities.
The program also hosts intense workshops throughout the world, known as Solveathons that curate and test ideas from one or two themes from the Global Challenges. This year, Trimmed Innovations, an engineering company, plans to lead a Solveathon in Udaipur, India on April 11, and another in Uzbekistan on April 19. Recent quarantines in response to COVID-19 could prevent participants from meeting in person, but some remain hopeful that hosts can organize workshops in May or June before the deadline closes on June 18, 2020.
Individuals not interested in participating in a Solveathon or submitting a proposal can still become members of MIT Solve. The membership program operates on an invitation basis and members must pay an annual fee of US$5,500.
Since MIT Solve’s launch, the program has obtained over US$14 million in funding for entrepreneurs and Solver teams, individuals, or groups that win an MIT Solve Global Challenge. The Solver team network now includes 130 solver teams that work in 36 countries helping 16 million people throughout the world. These include programs like Inga Alley Cropping, an agroforestry based in Lostwithiel, United Kingdom (U.K.) aiming to improve food security within rural communities.
Through the program’s core principles of optimism, partnership, open innovation, inclusive technology, and human-centered solutions, MIT Solve “[drives to create a] lasting, transformational impact” that could empower the global community.
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