Do you have a solution to a global problem? Apply to Solve's Global Challenges, which are open for solutions from March to June each year. Finalists in our Challenges will pitch their solutions to a panel of expert judges and an audience of 400+ leaders at Solve Challenge Finals in September during UN General Assembly Week in New York City. Those that are ultimately selected as a Solver will:
- Receive access to funding in grants and investments, including through prizes and Solve Innovation Future;
- Join a class of impressive peers that act as trusted support group, offering inspiration and guidance—and recognition and access as a Solver alumni team after completion of the program;
- Join a powerful network of impact-minded leaders across industries and sectors, with dedicated spaces to meet year-round and during Solve’s flagship events such as Solve at MIT;
- Access mentorship, coaching, and strategic advice from experts, as well as the Solve and MIT networks;
- Receive a monitoring and evaluation track to support you in building your impact measurement practice;
- Gain exposure in the media and at conferences;
- Access relevant in-kind resources such as software licenses and legal services from Solve Member and partner organizations.
Thanks to our partners, to date Solve has brokered commitments of over $40 million in funding for Solver teams and social entrepreneurs, in addition to in-kind support such as mentorship, technical expertise, media and conference exposure, and business and entrepreneurship training.
Who can apply?
Anyone, anywhere around the world can submit a solution to Solve's Global Challenges. You can be an individual, a team, or an organization. You can be an applicant from previous years or already part of our community. If you have a solution, we hope you'll apply.
Current and alumni Solver teams are allowed to apply to a new Global Challenge; however, the solution must be new and not the same solution that was previously selected by Solve. If you have any questions on this policy, please reach out to your contact at Solve.
For full participation details, please see our Terms of Service.
How do I apply?
Not sure how to apply to a Challenge? Click here for helpful tips and tutorials to get you started.
2021 Global Challenge cycle timeline
- March 1, 2021: 2021 Global Challenges open
- June 16, 2021 at 12:00pm (noon) ET: Deadline to submit solutions
- August 2021: Finalists announced
- September 19, 2021: Finalists pitch at Virtual Solve Challenge Finals 2020; the most promising solutions are selected as Solver teams
- Onward: Solve matches Solver teams with Members, funders, and experts to advance their work
What type of solutions will Solve accept?
Solve seeks innovative, human-centered, tech-based solutions to our Global Challenges. Our definition of "tech-based" is broad: in addition to AI, blockchain, and virtual reality, Solver teams have leveraged a plant-based fiber that absorbs oil spills, biodegradable sanitary pads, and user-friendly mobile apps. Learn about all our Solver teams' diverse technologies.
Through open innovation, Solve is looking for a diverse portfolio of solutions across geography, development stage, and team members’ gender and background. We encourage people of all backgrounds to submit applications.
Solution applications must be written in English. We will consider solutions at all stages of development:
- Concept: An idea being explored for its feasibility to build a product, service, or business model based on that idea. Please note that concept solutions are unlikely to be selected; you have until the application deadline to prototype and experiment with your idea!
- Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model. If for-profit, a new company getting off the ground that has raised little or no institutional capital (less than $500,000) in pre-seed fundraising.
- Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community. If for-profit, a young company that is working to gain traction and that has raised less than $2 million in institutional capital in seed funding.
- Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth in multiple communities or countries. If for-profit, an early-stage company that has established a track record and is seeking to raise a round of roughly $2 million to $15 million in institutional capital in a Series A or potentially B round.
- Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency. If for-profit, a successful company that is scaling its operations and seeks to raise a round of more than $15 million in institutional capital.
Submitting multiple solutions and applying to multiple Challenges:
Can my organization submit a solution to multiple Global Challenges?
Yes, you may apply to multiple Global Challenges. However, you will only be allowed to pitch one solution to the judges if you advance. You should apply to the Global Challenge that most aligns with your solution for the best chance of advancing.
Can my organization submit multiple solutions to the same Global Challenge?
Yes, but you would have to create another user account to submit another solution to the same Global Challenge. In addition, you will only be allowed to pitch one solution to the judges if you advance. The judges will select the solutions that are most aligned with the criteria and dimensions of the Global Challenge.
Can my organization submit a solution to a Global Challenge and a Partner Challenge?
Yes, you may submit a solution to both Global Challenges and Partner Challenges. You may also apply to multiple Partner Challenges. Please contact us if you have more specific questions about eligibility for a Partner Challenge.
How does Solve's platform work?
Solve’s award-winning open innovation platform was designed based on 10 years of research conducted by the Climate CoLab, a project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence, which studies how people and computers can be connected so that collectively, they can act more intelligently than any one person, group, or computer has ever done before.
Anyone, anywhere in the world can submit a solution to open innovation Challenges hosted on Solve’s platform. Users may also comment and vote on published solutions, which are visible on Solve's website. All judging is completed inside the platform, with solutions assigned to specific judges to review and evaluate.
How will my solution be evaluated?
Our judges are experts and leaders from across industries and sectors. Solve's staff and community (including our Members, MIT faculty, and Solver teams from previous cycles) will conduct an initial review to select semi-finalists, then Challenge Leadership Groups will review semi-finalist solutions and select finalists. Judges will score solutions along the following criteria:
- Alignment: The solution uses technology to address one of Solve's Global Challenges.
- Potential for Impact: The planned solution implementation has the potential to impact the intended population.
- Feasibility: Solution implementation is feasible, and the team has a plan for financial sustainability.
- Innovative Approach: The solution includes a new technology, a new application of technology, a new business model, or a new process for solving the Challenge.
- Inclusive Human-Centered Design: The solution is designed with and for underserved communities, and the solution team demonstrates proximity to the community and embodies and addresses diversity, equity, and inclusion through their solution.
- Scalability*: The solution can be scaled to affect the lives of more people.
- Partnership Potential*: The applicant clearly explains how the solution would benefit from the broad range of resources that the Solve community is positioned to provide.
- Technical Feasibility*: The technology underlying the solution already exists, has been proven to work in other contexts, and is being appropriately applied to the solution; or, if the underlying technology is novel, the applicant has provided convincing evidence of its potential function.
*This criterion will not be considered during the initial review to select semi-finalists.
Finalists will pitch before the Challenge Leadership Group and a live audience at Solve Challenge Finals. If you are invited to pitch at Solve Challenge Finals, travel to New York City will be reimbursed and accommodations will be provided.
The most promising finalist solutions will form the new Solver class and build partnerships with the Solve community.
What will I get if my solution is selected?
If you are selected as a Solver, you’ll receive a $10,000 grant from Solve, as well as access to significant additional funding.
Solve has more than $1.5 million in funding pre-committed to the 2021 Solver class that will be selected at Solve Challenge Finals in September, 2021. This year, we are hoping that some of this funding will be invested directly into our Solver teams via Solve Innovation Future. This will only apply in certain cases and has no effect on any selection decisions as a Solver or for any of the prizes awarded in September during Solve Challenge Finals.
However, being a Solver is about much more than funding. When you join our MIT-backed network, you'll receive nine months of personalized support from Solve staff and Members of Solve’s cross-sector social impact community. Through these connections, you'll build the partnerships needed to accelerate your work, validate your impact and business model, and scale your solution.
MIT’s network and contacts have opened doors to avenues that we would otherwise have not been able to access. Going through such a rigorous due-diligence process—having your product reviewed in microscopic detail by such a renowned institution—was valuable validation of our impact. MIT Solve represents a true standard of excellence and signals that a solution is more than just a hopeful dream.
—Priya Lakhani, Founder and CEO of Solver Century Tech
What is Solve at MIT?
Solve at MIT is our annual flagship event held on the MIT campus in May in Cambridge, MA, bringing together more than 500 cross-sector leaders as well as MIT faculty and students. The event features Solver teams on stage, in online and written materials, and through dedicated Challenge workshops.
Photo courtesy of Solver Neopenda.