Dear Solve Community,
What a year this has been. While we are hopeful that medicine and science will soon deliver vaccines to combat this unrelenting pandemic, we also know that the problems and inequalities laid bare this year existed well before 2020. These inequities have unfortunately been exacerbated by this pandemic—widespread racial injustice, hundreds of millions of children out of school without stable connectivity, millions of jobs and small businesses disappearing, and the majority of the world still without adequate affordable access to health care.
Many of us have been forced to press pause and think about how we have built this world, and its glaring injustice.
What gives me hope in the face of all of this? You. The thousands who have applied to, commented on, and voted on one of our Challenges, who have donated to Solve or supported one of our Solver teams, who have taken our MITx class, who have volunteered your time as a mentor, a reviewer, and more. Our Members and Partners who support our Solver teams and our work, helping to advance and scale projects to benefit millions. And of course, our Solver teams and Fellows who stand at the frontlines of innovation—with new solutions that reimagine our systems and advance equity and opportunity for all. THANK YOU.
2020 Solver Jute cellulose-based biodegradable PPE is designing a sustainable solution to Personal Protective Equipment pollution, while Simprints has developed a system to support vaccine delivery through facial recognition and biometrics. As we encounter new levels of joblessness and financial insecurity, Solver Humans in the Loop is providing refugee and conflict-affected populations with training and work opportunities in the artificial intelligence industry. Indigenous Communities Fellow Food from Fire is combating food insecurity and fire hazard, by investing in Native Alaskan youth and biomass heated greenhouses. Finally, as we face a future in which climate change continues to pose an existential risk, Solver Symbrosia is developing a seaweed feed supplement that could reduce livestock methane emissions by over 90 percent.
To explore all of the amazing work being done by our newest class of Solver teams and Indigenous Communities Fellows, check out our 2020 Solver and Fellow Spotlights.
All of this would not be possible without all of you. More than ever this year, you have shown up to support our mission and our innovators. We received over 2,600 submitted solutions from over 135 countries in response to the 2020 Global Challenges—that’s an 86 percent increase in applications from last year. You all lended your voice and your votes to help us select the most promising solutions. We asked our community to vote on our 2021 Challenge themes, and again you shared your time and expertise to help refine these critical Challenges.
The Morgridge Family Foundation and Someone Else’s Child Foundation provided Covid-19 emergency grant funding to Solver teams responding to the ongoing education and health crises. When we selected our 2020 Solver class, our Prize funders, including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, General Motors, the Vodafone Americas Foundation, the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, the Elevate Prize Foundation, and many more, committed over $2 million to support our Solver teams’ work around health security and pandemics, jobs and inclusive entrepreneurship, maternal health, and more.
Solve believes that technology is part of the solution, but that real change also requires partnership across sectors. To date, we have helped broker over 300 partnerships within our community, totalling over $25 million in commitments to Solver teams and entrepreneurs globally. Temie Giwa-Tuboson became a Frontlines of Health Solver in 2018 with her organization LifeBank. In January 2020, the MOMs Initiative, a partnership between Merck for Mothers, USAID, DFC, and Credit Suisse, committed $5 million in grant and investment funding for LifeBank to scale its operations throughout Nigeria and across Africa. With this funding, Lifebank will be able to supply an expected one million additional units of blood and other lifesaving medical products to help save mothers’ lives.
We find pride–and comfort–in having built an active community of cross-sector leaders committed to social impact and in brokering connections and partnerships to advance innovation all around the world.
We are thrilled to have you by our side, because we have a lot more in store for 2021:
We will continue to match our 2020 Solver teams, Indigenous Communities Fellows, and Members to foster meaningful partnerships to accelerate their impact;
We will launch our 2021 Global Challenges around five working themes: Health Security & Pandemics, Equitable Classrooms & Learning Spaces, Resilient Ecosystems, and Digital Inclusion for Economic Justice, and our US-only challenge: Technology for Racial Equity;
We will continue to make investments in Solver teams from current and past cohorts through Solve Innovation Future.
In collaboration with our long-standing partner the Morgridge Family Foundation, we will launch Solv[ED], a new program focused on students and young people; and
Solve Members will have the opportunity to participate in Challenge Design and Solveathon Workshops across the world, as well as attend virtual Solve at MIT in May, 2021.
We need your help and support. Notably, we invite you to:
Become a Solve Member if you have not already done so;
Vote for 2021 Global Challenge Themes here;
Fund a 2021 Global Challenge Prize or Launch a Partner Challenge;
Donate to support Solve’s work. Any donation to Solve including Solve Membership is a gift to MIT and 100 percent tax deductible in the US (and the CARES act makes it even friendlier this year).
There is still much work to be done. We need you. Your energy, enthusiasm, skills, experience, and resources to continue this fight and solve the big challenges of our time.
With much appreciation and gratitude,
Alex Amouyel and the Solve team.