Archive for the 'Competition' Category

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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].

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MITGC Introduction Slide Deck

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.

MIT Inventors Win Top Two Spots at ASME iShow

Congratulations to the MIT students behind 6Dot Braille Labeler and Leveraged Freedom Chair for winning second and first place respectively at the 2010 ASME Innovation Showcase!

6Dot was awarded a $7500 IDEAS Health Innovation award in 2009 sponsored by Aleksander and Anna Anita Leyfell. In 2008 Leveraged Freedom Chair won a $7500 IDEAS Award for International Technology sponsored by the Lemelson-MIT Program.

Both teams have used their award to further test and refine their prototypes as well as seek out new funding sources and partnerships. Congratulations on all your hard work – its terrific to see you thrive!

See the ASME announcement here.

The MIT Global Challenge Sneakpeak

Its June already. Less than 5 months to get the MIT Global Challenge platform in shape for launch to MIT’s alumni leaders at the annual ALC October 22-23 here on campus.

Most of the big hurdles are behind us. Who knew optimization could be such a bear?? Key features to complete build are:

  • Splash page and data visualization
  • Community choice award voting engine
  • Moderator and volunteer panel
  • Location-based user interaction

We’re also working on a student-centered video pitch contest – stay tuned!

IDEAS2010 winners retreat reflections

IDEAS held its annual winners retreat May 25-26 at the always welcoming and excellent MIT Endicott House in Dedham. Over the course of two days, participants were asked to work with their team members and fellow winners to plan their next year of work, with an eye toward long-term impacts.

Although we didn’t get around to some of the more adventurous options like firewalking and gravity-less flight we had a great time interacting across discussions and activities like:

  • Project roadmap: plan the ultimate outcomes you envision for your project, and wrap around each the objectives, activities, resources, and timeline necessary to achieve those goals. Laura Sampath, International Development Initiative manager and Daphne Dhao, MIT alum and superstar IDEAS volunteer, led great discussions and workshops that privided practical tools for project planning, including a discussion of “Asking the right questions.”

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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.

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Congratulations to 26 IDEAS2010 Teams

The online votes are in! Thanks so much to everyone who participated in the beta testing of the Global Challenge online voting utility. We appreciate all of the teams who made huge GOTV drives and pushed the system. And thanks to everyone who took the time to register, get to know the teams and cast a vote.

We’ll announce the winner at the IDEAS2010 Awards Ceremony on May 3 in the Stata Center, 7:30pm in Building 32-123.

This year, 26 teams representing more than 90 students and their collaborators entered the IDEAS Competition. Come celebrate their innovative and entrepreneurial solutions to community development challenges at the annual MIT IDEAS Competition Awards Ceremony. Teams with projects judged to hold the greatest potential to bring innovation, feasibility and impact to communities will receive awards up to $8000 to implement their ideas for one year.

This year we are pleased to welcome inventor, philanthropist, and MIT alum Carl Bielenberg (SM ’75) as our keynote speaker. A pioneer in the field of appropriate technology, Carl has devoted his life to identifying, developing, and promoting crop processing and biomass energy technologies in Africa and New England.

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

Whisper Campaign Goes Live

Nice to get this out today…

Friends,

In 2011 the MIT Public Service Center, in association with MIT150 and the MIT Alumni Association, will launch the MIT Global Challenge. The MIT Global Challenge will connect and reward innovators inside and outside the MIT community who have solutions that address barriers to the well-being of people anywhere. Its a new competition platform to support invention as public service that draws on the unique problem-solving capacity of the world-wide MIT community.

Sign up at http://globalchallenge.mit.edu to receive an invitation for preview access when we launch the platform later this year. Questions? Find the Global Challenge on Twitter @mitchallenge.