Monthly Archive for October, 2010

And the winner is…

Congratulations to IDEAS 2010 team Sanergy for your winning entry into the IDEAS and Global Challenge video pitch contest! Judges voted Sanergy’s pitch the best for the clear connection between your team’s accomplishment and the resources offered through IDEAS and the Global Challenge. Most importantly, the video did a wonderful job emphasizing a multidisciplinary team drawn from across the MIT community and a deep connection to community and MIT resources on the ground, like FabLab. Here’s the vid:

Sanergy from Ani Vallabhaneni on Vimeo.

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Thanks so much to all of the teams that entered a video into the pitch contest – the range of projects represented is amazing, and I hope that through the MIT Public Service Center we’ll continue to find ways to support your work. View all of the entries here.

Shirky on the Silly Stuff vs Science Gap

A friend and I took an hour to hear Clay Shirky speak at the Monitor Group last night, curious to learn more about some of the intellectual territory plowed in his latest book, “Cognitive Surplus.” [Disclaimer: though a colleague shared the book, I've yet to crack it].

Couple of key points he raised before I get to mine: first is that the book is centered on one of the big opportunities opened by the web and connected devices, which is for massive coordinated voluntary action. Second is that there’s this “gap” between the billions of hours Americans spend watching television, and the time spent contributing to efforts like wikipedia (its huge according to Clay’s back of the envelope sketch). Third, scientific production has historically lagged the production of silly stuff – erotica, for example – when new communication technologies hit the social landscape.

This third point caught my attention. Is it really true that it took the scientific ‘community’ of Europe 150 years or so to ‘catch up’ to whimsical uses of the printing press? My gut says something else was afoot, something along the lines of ‘enlightenment.’

When Gutenberg famously cranked out his first editions of the Bible in the 1440s, moveable type presses had existed elsewhere for hundreds of years. Europe itself was just coming out of from under the blanket of medieval ‘dark ages’ with a nascent ‘renaissance’ of reasoned inquiry rooted in the Enlightenment ideals of autonomy, reason, and progress.

Continue reading ‘Shirky on the Silly Stuff vs Science Gap’

At the Generator Dinner.

Last Wednesday we launched this year’s IDEAS Competition and the Global Challenge with a stellar gathering at the Generator Dinner here on campus. Over 100 people attended — students, alums, supporters, and community partners.

The conversation began with a panel on international development organized by our office mate Alison Hynd and Amy Smith with MIT’s D-Lab. Five organizations spoke on what they work towards on a daily basis and what are the key gaps that could benefit from attention and innovation of students. The five organizations:

Lars was live tweeting and caught the scope of challenges presented there.

Continue reading ‘At the Generator Dinner.’

Echoing Green Opens Application Cycle for Social Entrepreneur Fellowship Program

The Foundation Center reports that Echoing Green will award twelve to twenty two-year fellowships to social entrepreneurs in 2011. The fellowships provide start-up capital and technical assistance to social entrepreneurs around the world working to turn their ideas into sustainable social change organizations.

Echoing Green seeks individuals or partnerships (organizations led by two people) with innovative solutions to significant social problems, strategies designed to create high-impact and sustainable change in people’s lives, and the ability to grow and lead a new organization.

The application process is open to citizens of all nationalities working in any country. Applicants must be fluent enough in English to participate in interviews and Echoing Green events, and must be 18 years of age or older.

Organizations seeking support must be the original idea of the applicant and must be independent, autonomous, and in a start-up phase, which means the applicant may have been running the organization full-time for up to two years, with Echoing Green’s financial support constituting its major/primary early funding. Applicants who have only worked on their organization on a part-time basis or have yet to start an organization are generally considered eligible. Applicants must make a full-time commitment to their organization’s development.

Fellows receive up to $60,000 ($90,000 for partnerships of two people) in seed funding over two years.

Visit the Echoing Green Web site for complete eligibility information, application materials, and profiles of fellows and their projects.

Contact:
Link to Complete RFP

Oct 21| MIT Agricultural Processes Challenge kick-off

[Cross-posted from the MIT Food + Agriculture Collaborative]

October 21, 2010: Yunus Innovation Challenge Kickoff dinner, from 7:00 to 9:00pm, R&D Pub Lounge (Stata Center, 4th Floor).

PROBLEM

Around the world, 550 million smallholder farmers lack access to mechanized agricultural technology. Many important food staples like maize (corn) and grains (e.g., rice or wheat) are harvested and processed by hand, which is both labor intensive and time consuming. This year’s Yunus Challenge calls for locally and environmentally sustainable innovations to improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers.

THE CHALLENGE

The 2011 Yunus Challenge will be awarded to participants who create an innovative solution that has the most potential to increase adoption of beneficial agricultural technologies, financial systems, or market access among smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods. Participants are encouraged to put their energy toward creating solutions that overcome the behavioral and situational hurdles of the adoption of agricultural innovations, rather than looking at the challenge only in terms of the creation of new technologies. That said, the proposed solution may involve a physical device.

IDEAS and Global Challenge Generator 10/13

Want to learn from major international development organizations about opportunities for students to get involved?
Want funding for your innovative service project?
Want to recruit members or mentors for your project, or find a project team to join?

Then come get connected at the IDEAS Generator -its the perfect venue!

Please join the 2010-2011 IDEAS Competition and Global Challenge for our annual Fall Generator. We’ll have the opportunity to hear from a panel international development practitioners in the field about the “innovation as service” opportunities they see, along with students pitching project ideas and skills. This will be followed by a networking dinner around innovative solutions to community needs. Here are the details:

  • What: IDEAS Generator feat. International Organizations Panel + Networking Dinner
  • When: October 13, 2010 / Dinner Panel starts at 7:00pm, followed by pitches and networking
  • Where: Morss Hall (Blg 50) / Walker Memorial

The dinner will feature a panel of representatives from locally-based major international development agencies discussing what their organizations do, and what they don’t know how to do! In other words, this panel will focus on where there is space in the work of these organizations for innovation and entrepreneurship from MIT students. The following panelists have been confirmed:

Acción
Susana Barton, VP and Program Manager of Innovations and Integrated Solutions

UUSC
Gretchen Alther, Senior Associate, Rights in Humanitarian Crisis
Patricia Jones, Manager, Environmental Justice Program

Mercy Corps
Ruth Allen, Director, Community Mobilization, Governance, and Partnerships

World Education
Gill Garb, Director, World Education/JSI Bantwana Initiative and
Shirley Burchfield, VP, Africa Division

UNICEF
Christopher Fabian
Communication Specialist, Director’s Office, Technology for Development

Moderator: Joshua Schuler, Executive Director of the Lemelson-MIT Program , a non-profit organization based at MIT that, among many other things, encourages sustainable new solutions to real-world problems.

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The Generator will have two recruitment open mic sessions with a prize for the best presentation in each category! The networking dinner will also include other activities to help everyone get connected with the right team mates (you don’t have to give a pitch). Feel free to bring along small prototypes and presentation materials that help describe your project. Participants who do sign-up to pitch will each have 60 seconds to pitch their projects to the audience. Pitches must be professional, practiced, and to the point. RSVP by October 11 to globalchallenge-rsvp@mit.edu to sign-up for an open mic opportunity, with the following included in your email:

Pitch Category One: Recruit The IDEAS Dream Team

  • Team name:
  • Project summary (50 words max):
  • Recruiting needs:

Pitch Category Two: Get Yourself “Hired”

  • Your name:
  • Reason a team should hire you (50 words max):
  • Type(s) of projects sought:

Questions? Email Lars or Kate at globalchallenge [at] mit [dot] edu  or visit http://ideas.mit.edu for more info. See you there!