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Why CrowdSolve? The Powerful Impact of Open Innovation and Engineered Partnerships

It’s getting crowded. Today, there are around 7.6 billion people in the world. That number is expected to reach 8.6 billion in 2030, 9.8 billion in 2050, and 11.2 billion in 2100 (source: UN). Alongside this dramatic population growth, technology continues to alter society at an exponential rate.

How do we ensure advances in technology support our expanding population, enabling more good than evil? How do we use technology to improve the lives of all -- not just a fortunate few?

To keep up with this exponential change, we need exponential collaboration. That’s what CrowdSolving is all about -- using open innovation and collaboration to find and support the most promising solutions to complex global Challenges. Read on to learn how it works.

“If we include everyone, we can solve everything.”

Have you ever used the app Duolingo to learn languages, or edited a Wikipedia page? If you answered yes, then you’ve personally participated in mass collaboration. You’ve contributed free time to build a reliable translation engine, or the world’s largest encyclopedia.

Examples of mass collaboration leading to problem-solving are everywhere. Online gamers collaborate for discoveries, such as figuring out the structure of an AIDS-related enzyme in 10 days on Foldit—a breakthrough that took scientists a decade. Data sharing on collaborative platforms enable widespread improvements in well-being such as real-time traffic sharing that saves local drivers time and gas on their commutes. Additionally, many purpose-driven organizations use crowdsourcing to achieve their core objectives, from Kiva crowd-vetting loan requests to Ushahidi crowdmapping elections and human rights violations.

At Solve, we believe this collaborative talent, ingenuity, and creativity exists everywhere. To find them, here are three things we do when sourcing solutions to our Challenges:

  • Anyone, anywhere can apply: There are no prerequisites for becoming a Solver —some of our Solver teams are pro-bono experiments, others are venture-backed companies.

  • Worldwide outreach: To ensure our call is heard worldwide, we hold independently organized Solveathons in cities like Beirut, Ho Chi Minh, Berlin, and Portland, ME. You can host one by filling out this short application form.

  • Frictionless collaboration: Our online innovation platform allows contributors to interact, build teams, and vote up and down solutions. Join in on the fun here.

Our goal is to include as many people as possible. As Megan Smith, 3rd Chief Technology Officer of the US, said during our Solve flagship meeting, “If we include everyone, we can solve everything.”

Engineering and supercharging trustworthy partnerships

Open innovation has the power to catalyze scalable solutions and systemic change. To unlock that power, it takes partnerships. Building partnerships is an art as much as a science. It’s an exercise in trust that cannot be coded. Solving the complex problems of our time requires participation at all levels across industries, governments, and civil societies.

Take for example Kiron, one of our solutions to Solve’s Refugee Education Challenge. Kiron is a Berlin-based open education startup that allows refugees to earn free college credits and degrees. It reaches thousands of refugees because its programs are recognized by governments and certified by global universities. Through its multi-stakeholder partnerships, Kiron has established the credibility and support to scale.

Solve helps broker similar partnerships between Solver teams on one hand, and leaders from the public, private, and philanthropic space on the other, so that the most promising solutions submitted on our open innovation platform can scale. Here are three ways we do this:

  • Curated community: The Solve network is made up of the selected entrepreneurs, business leaders, policymakers, researchers, and other change-agents who have a shared purpose of supporting the most promising solutions to pressing problems. To become part of the community, here is more information.

  • Dedicated support: Relationship officers get to know closely the social, environmental, and impact goals of both the Solver teams and the community members, and together develop a targeted support plan.

  • Convening: Our meetings supercharge the community. Through carefully engineered working sessions, we see conversations blossom into commitments at a rate and speed they otherwise wouldn’t. We saw this in full swing at our recent flagship meeting, Solve at MIT.

So, here’s our challenge to you: Have you been working on solving problems related to our four Challenges: (1) Coastal Communities, (2) Frontlines of Health, (3) Teachers & Educators, and (4) Work of the Future? Submit your ideas and work on our open innovation platform at—anyone can take part. Applications are due by July 1. 

If you don’t have a solution, but want to join our efforts, you can make a difference by becoming a member of the Solve community.

Let’s Solve together. Join the movement today.


Participants in the 2017 Challenges Coalition Working Group brainstorm on Youth, Skills, & the Workforce of the Future during Solve at MIT, May 17, 2018. (Photo by Adam Schultz / MIT Solve)

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