Archive for the 'prizes' Category

Ideas: Unleashing Creativity through Competitions

Dr Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director of Global Community Initiatives at Microsoft (and recent interviewee of our own Sneha Kannan!) has some insights into student innovation, development, and social change in today’s Huffington Post!

On May 2 as part of MIT’s 150 year anniversary celebrations I will be speaking to students who have entered the MIT IDEAS Competition and Global Challenge — which support innovation and entrepreneurship as a public service. This year more than 80 teams have entered ideas that address barriers to well-being in communities in 24 countries. 46 of them have qualified to enter final proposals.

What is unique about this is that the competition is sparking collaboration among students at MIT and the worldwide MIT alumni network, as well as communities around the world. Opening up the participation to the larger community is interesting and an innovative way for a university to engage a much larger audience. Over the last decade we’ve seen more and more universities and companies launching competitions to develop ‘ideas’ to solve some of the most intractable social problems that we face.

Read the full article here.

Press Release: MIT Global Challenge will Launch to Worldwide Community January 7, 2011

Contact: Lars Hasselblad Torres
617-999-5294
lhtorres@mit.edu

Be A Part of ItCambridge, MA — The MIT Global Challenge, a new initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Public Service Center, will launch on January 7, 2011 as the Institute celebrates 150 years of service to the world. It is anticipated that more than 30 MIT-based teams will compete for a total of $150,000 in awards with up to $25,000 per team that enable winning teams to implement novel solutions to some of the world’s urgent challenges.

The MIT Global Challenge is an online platform that connects and awards teams of public service innovators led by full-time MIT students. The website will unite students, the worldwide MIT community, and their collaborators in identifying barriers to well being in communities around the world, encouraging teams to work together to develop and pilot innovative solutions to those problems.

Sally Susnowitz, Director of the MIT Public Service Center, has described the MIT community as, “a community of ingenious problem solvers who enjoy solving challenging problems.” The MIT Global Challenge, she says, “invites and supports the entire MIT community worldwide in applying their creativity and knowledge to help people in need throughout the world by working with them to create innovative and effective solutions to their problems.”

Continue reading ‘Press Release: MIT Global Challenge will Launch to Worldwide Community January 7, 2011′

Scot Frank, Sol Source Earn Big for Green Work

Congratulations to alum Scot Frank, who’s solar concentrator just snagged €500,000 in the Netherland’s Postcode Lottery Green Challenge. From the press release:

AMSTERDAM, 23 September 2010 – Scot Frank has won the Postcode Lottery Green Challenge 2010 for the affordable portable solar concentrator SolSource. His Royal Highness Prince Friso of Orange-Nassau, the honorary jury chair, announced the American as the recipient of the €500,000 grand prize.

“This is fantastic,” Frank said. “We’ve been working with target users in China for five years. We’ll use this money to set up our Chinese manufacturing, marketing and distribution base.”

The SolSource is a light, foldable device that harnesses the sun’s energy to cook, generate heat and light, and charge mobile phones. It eliminates indoor air pollution from dung- and wood-burning ovens. SolSource also saves women hours each day by removing the need to collect fuel. The device, to be produced from local materials in its target markets and sold for €10, will be a boon in developing countries.

Read the complete announcement here.

Deadline Extended to 10/15! Enter the MIT Global Challenge Video Pitch Contest

Deadline extended! What’s are you doing to change the world? How can resources like the IDEAS Competition and MIT Global Challenge help?

Share your story in the Global Challenge Video Pitch Competition and be eligible to win $1500.

The contest is open to anyone, but teams must involve MIT students. The winning entry will receive $1500 and will be featured at the October 23 Alumni Leadership Conference launch of the MIT Global Challenge.

We’re launching the MIT Global Challenge to connect and reward teams of innovators and entrepreneurs that are tackling barriers to well-being through invention. We need the world-changing students who benefit from opportunities like IDEAS and the MIT Global Challenge to help us spread the word!

We want to tap student passion to make the world a better place by asking you to make a case for why the MIT community worldwide should care about the Global Challenge. To be successful we’ll need their support to fund awards, underwrite challenges, and support student projects as mentors, volunteers, and local promoters of the Global Challenge. Download contest details [word.doc].

Continue reading ‘Deadline Extended to 10/15! Enter the MIT Global Challenge Video Pitch Contest’

Competitions, Social Innovation, and Human Well-being

A recent article in the Harvard Business Review, “The U.S. Lagging, not Leading, Social Entrepreneurship” caught my eye; the author writes, “Spend less time and money training entrepreneurs and funding contests domestically; invest more in social entrepreneurs globally.”

A few observations:

  • Lead with partnership. The author suggests that what’s needed are innovations “for the two-thirds world, coming from the two-thirds.” And while this is true, its probably not sufficient. What we’re finding is that partnerships – in which communities contribute their expertise, and MIT students contribute theirs – generate startling results. Scrape a little deeper into the history of companies like M-Pesa, Ushahidi, and even Grameen Phone and the role of robust international partnerships become clear.
  • Markets are not equal. Markets are very different in the U.S. and base of the pyramid. The consumer needs and the costs of entry are very different, as are the ongoing costs of doing business. We need better descriptions of the end-user benefits before we rule out domestic investment. The fact that the U.S. has created a Social Innovation Fund should signal some hope that we’re moving out of the era of big NGOs and into trimmer enterprise-led solutions to social dilemmas.
  • The U.S. is a terrific incubator. Domestic investments are, counterintuitively, investments in international social entrepreneurship. At MIT, 25% of team members in competitions like IDEAS and the Global Challenge are international. At the same time, partnerships should be considered an essential investment criteria for anyone considering funding for a social enterprise outside the U.S. in which American actors play a part.
  • Finally, there isn’t much in the article to suggest how the U.S. can move from being a laggard – if the proposition is true – to being a leader. Its not clear how investing in social entrepreneurs globally will advance the U.S. leadership position.

Its probably true that the United States, and much of the donor base that operates out of the U.S., has over-invested in well-intentioned – and ultimately fruitless – self-styled innovators who don’t have the problem-solving knack needed to tackle persistent problems abroad. But that’s not sufficient in my book to suggest we lag. Nor that entrepreneurs abroad are any more likely to achieve success – precisely because these are tough challenges that often require a rare confluence of skills, experiences and resources necessary to solve them.

At the end of the day, we need to create more opportunities for entrepreneurial thinkers to encounter each other – whether that’s through competition spaces, incubators, networking events like Design Indaba, Maker Faire AfricaSocial Capital Markets, Pop!Tech, and the Skoll World Forum to name just a few. The important concept is that these are how learning networks are fed, and from these networks innovation is sparked. We also need to seek out, recognize, and support nascent talent where it lies, and foster spaces where young problem-solvers like William Kamkwamba can encounter and build the personal networks that often build toward successful social enterprises.

Come get a sneak peak at some of the terrific ideas MIT students are coming up with as we prepare to launch the MIT Global Challenge, a competition platform to connect and reward innovators inside and outside the MIT community that are tackling barriers to well-being.

Winners of the 9th Annual MIT IDEAS Competition

Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session. Photo: Aditi Verma

Graduate students Aaron Zinman and Greg Elliott at the IDEAS Competition Project Display and Judging Session. Photo: Aditi Verma

The ninth annual MIT IDEAS Competition celebrated student achievement on Monday evening, May 3, at MIT’s Raymond and Maria Stata Center. Seven student teams received IDEAS awards to implement their projects over the next year. IDEAS — which stands for Innovation, Development, Enterprise, Action and Service — recognizes student teams that have developed outstanding projects that apply invention as a public service. Each award, funded by a corporate or individual sponsor, will enable a team to develop their prototype into a working solution in collaboration with community partners around the world.

The awards, presented by a selection of MIT staff and sponsors, went to the following teams:

Konbit was awarded the $8,000 IDEAS Award sponsored by the Office of the Dean for Graduate Education. Team members Greg Elliott and Aaron Zinman designed a service via phone, Short Message Service (SMS), and web that helps communities rebuild themselves after a crisis by indexing the skill sets of local residents, and allowing NGOs to find and employ them.

Continue reading ‘Winners of the 9th Annual MIT IDEAS Competition’

Update from Egg Energy, 2009 Winner

Egg Energy at Eath2TechEGG-energy has had several successes over the last few months, including:
- At the the William James Foundation Social Responsibility competition Egg Energy won the Richard Heinberg Sustainability Prize, were runner-up for the Africa Prize and had an honorable mention at the Socially Responsible Business Plan Competition. View the WJF press release here.

- Invited to pitch their business at the Princeton Entrepreneurs’ Network of Boston’s inaugural Social Enterprise Pitch Competition on April 21st. Find out more about SEPC here.

Egg Energy has also garnered some great online press:
- in one of the NYTimes blogs
- on Earth2Tech (a few more here)
- on Planet Green

Congratulations Egg Energy. Past IDEAS winners, got stories to share? Please email them to globalchallenge@mit.edu

Wildfire Combines Viral Power of Voting and Sweepstakes

Wildfire, the social competition application for Facebook, has recently landed a couple of big name gigs, including Gatorade and Britney Spears. I’m glad their sharing what they’re learning as they implement inducement prizes and social filtering within social spaces. While the aim is to move product, the lessons I think can be pulled into plans to engage communities in social benefit campaigns – like IDEAS!

Here’s what they’ve said about their recent work:

Gatorade is the first to use our latest and most powerful campaign format – a combination of voting and sweepstakes. This format will soon be available to everyone on our platform.

Different campaigns are viral for different reasons. Voting formats are often viral because they involve self-expression. Voters like to broadcast their opinion to their friends (in the case of Gatorade, for example, voters can express which moment in Michael Jordan’s career they think was the best) by publishing newsfeeds….which results in more people learning about the campaign….which leads to more newsfeeds being published.

Sweepstakes, on the other hand, are extremely powerful because they enable companies to gather information about their users (contact info, email address etc) and to encourage them to become fans of a company’s fan page and/or join a company’s newsletter. Sweepstakes that utilize our ’social’ prize format (see below) are also highly viral because they encourage entrants to invite their friends. A voting campaign combined with a sweepstakes (e.g. “Vote for your favorite Michael Jordan moment and then enter the sweepstakes for the chance to meet Michael Jordan”) offers the best of both worlds – a highly viral, newsfeed driven campaign plus a powerful way to generate leads and build fans.

 

By combining the viral strengths of these two campaign formats, we’ve created the most powerful Facebook marketing campaign format on the web.

Lessons from America’s Giving Challenge

America's Giving Challenge

Download the America's Giving Challenge report from www.casefoundation.org

In 2007 the Case Foundation sponsored two distinct charity drives across two very different platforms, in part I suspect to change the top-down charity model to one of partnership and engagement and also to stress-test the emerging socialweb as a platform for carrying out its philanthropic interests.

In June they released a report on what they learned, titled America’s Giving Challenge: Assessment and Reflection Report. Written by socialmedia guru Beth Kanter – also one of the Challenge’s winners – and tech expert Allison Fine of Demos.org, its a pretty straightforward head-to-head comparison of the performance of both approaches.

On the one hand, Case launched America’s Giving Challenge with PARADE Magazine and through parade.com, an example of a mainstream publishing giant adapting to a new Internet reality. The second challenge, the Causes Giving Challenge, was run through Facebook, one of the most popular social networks on the web.

Both Challenges performed incredibly well, though in very different ways. As the report states, “America’s Giving Challenge raised $1,193,024 from 46,044 donors for 2,482 causes. The Causes Giving Challenge raised a total of $571,686 from 25,795 unique donors for 3,936 causes.” Continue reading ‘Lessons from America’s Giving Challenge’

The Idea Project

The Ideas ProjectThe founders of Xigi.net and Nokia have produced a wonderful little site called the ideasproject.com which is a place for thought leaders and the public to share their future-setting ideas. Business founders like Reid Hoffman (LinkedIn) share the UI with activist-thinkers that include Ethan Zuckerman (Global Voices) and innovation drivers like Peter Diamandis (X Prize).

The site competes in some ways with other “deep thoughts” sites like TED, and what it lacks in production it makes up for its warmer, more participatory approach: emphasizing a back-of-the-envelope feel and making space for the big shots (“ideators”) to share the screen with joe public, the Ideas Project has the casual intellectual environment of a Viennese cafe ca. 1920. In a good way!

A few other notable if imperfect aspects of the site include a non-linking visualization of ideas and how they connect by people and theme along with a dashboard that enables users to collect and track their favorite ideas. Not sure how this maps with data collection efforts and what the end result would be. Oh, and anyone submitting ideas qualifies to win a Nokia N95 phone. Is this marketing at the end of the day?

At the end of the day, some great pointers in UI, information architecture and design for the Global Challenge.