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PRESS RELEASE: MIT Solve Announces 15 Sustainable Urban Communities Challenge Finalists

Finalists Chosen Out of Hundreds of Applications to Live Pitch During United Nations General Assembly Week in New York

Today MIT’s new Solve initiative announced the finalists for the Solve Challenge Finals in New York City during the United Nations General Assembly Week. Fifteen innovators and entrepreneurs were selected as finalists for the Sustainable Urban Communities Challenge and will pitch their solutions to a live audience and a panel of expert judges including Gunhild Stordalen, President and Founder of the EAT Foundation; Ryan Whalen, Director of Initiatives and Strategy at the Rockefeller Foundation; and Hervé Duteil, Managing Director of Regional Coordinator for Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainable Finance in the Americas for BNP Paribas, on Sunday, September 17

The finalists’ exciting and creative solutions answer how urban communities can increase their access to sustainable and resilient food and water sources.

Just a few examples of the 2017 Sustainable Urban Communities Challenge finalists’ solutions include:

  • CityTaps: A smart and prepaid water meter, and billing software, that bridges the gap between water utilities and the urban poor by lowering barriers to home connections by eliminating the needs and expenses of water meter reading, billing and collection. CityTaps is running a pilot in Niger. 
  • Spira: This program provides technology to local algae producers so they can share food replicator systems within the community, which will allow farmers to grow massive quantities of microalgae that provides a vegan ingredient to replace animal protein – and will serve as a supplement to conventional agriculture to ensure that anyone can access basic nutrition effortlessly.
  • Fresh Direct Urban Container Farms: These stackable container farms allow farming to occur in urban areas that traditionally lack direct access to fresh produce. Fresh Direct utilizes technology to reduce the need for land, water and electricity and decreases the need for imported goods. Fresh Direct is running a pilot in Lagos, Nigeria.

A full list of finalists’ solutions can be found below:

Solution Team

Solution Name










United States




Fresh Direct Nigeria

Fresh Direct Urban Container Farms


Gravity Water

Gravity Water Systems

United States


Incentivizing A Decentralized Water and Food Supply Network

Hong Kong

Elizabeth, Gabby, and Joyce




Robot Daisy, the Water Saver

United States


Spira: Simple Algae Food Replicators

United States

Chromewell Innovative Solutions, Inc.

StillFresh: First Spoilage-Monitoring Strip in Asia Pacific



Sustainable Clean Water and Distribution Solution

United States


Waterbox, Autonomous urban water Utilities


Urban Fabrick Collaborative

Waterspots: Watering Holes for the 21st century

United States

water Messiah's

ZWW (Zero water waste) technology


Immediately following the live pitch session, the finalists chosen by the judges will be announced as Solver teams and join the Solve community to build partnerships with cross-sector leaders that help pilot, scale and implement their solutions. Along with joining the Solve community, the finalists have an opportunity to win incredible prizes including a mentorship prize curated by world-class cellist Yo-Yo Ma for the Solver teams who present a solution based in arts and culture.

Solve is a community that brings together technologists, social entrepreneurs, business leaders, policymakers, researchers, and other change agents to unearth and implement solutions to specific, actionable challenges facing the world. More than 950 solutions from all over the world were submitted to Solve’s 2017 Global Challenges: (1) Brain Health, (2) Sustainable Urban Communities, (3) Women and Technology, and (4) Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future. 

To attend the Solve Challenge Finals in New York City on September 17, apply for a press pass to the event here and view the schedule here. Additional details will be released in the weeks leading up to the Challenge Finals.

About Solve:
Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) that identifies and supports lasting solutions to the world's most pressing challenges. Solve is a community that brings together technologists, social entrepreneurs, business leaders, policymakers, researchers, and other change agents to unearth and implement solutions to specific, actionable challenges issued around the pillars of Economic Prosperity, Health, Learning, and Sustainability. Learn more

Press Contact:
Ken Meyer


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Related Challenge


Sustainable Urban Communities

Learn more about this challenge

Related Event

Solve Challenge Finals 2017

Apella | New York City

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