Solv[ED] Youth Innovation Challenge
Are you 24 and under and passionate about making a positive impact in your community and the world? If your answer is “yes!,” we want to hear about your solution.
Who can apply?
Anyone, anywhere around the world can submit a solution to the Solv[ED] Youth Innovation Challenge if they are aged 24 and under. For full participation details, please see our Terms of Service. Whether you apply as an individual or as a team, make sure that all applicants listed in your submission are, at most, 24 years old when the challenge closes on January 18, 2022 at 11:59pm ET. There is no cost to submitting a solution. Applications must be written in English.
What type of solutions will Solv[ED] accept?
Solv[ED] is open to solutions at all stages of development, and with any business model. Whether your solution is a concept, a product that is being prototyped, a service that is being piloted in your local community, or a fully operational nonprofit or for-profit organization, we want to hear from you. Your solution does need to be tech-based, and you can see more about what that means below under ‘.’
What counts as “technology”?
We define technology broadly as the application of science and evidence-based knowledge to the practical aims of human life. For MIT Solve and our mission, it’s important that your solution is using technology to solve a problem facing your community and/or the world and seeks to benefit people and the planet.
We welcome solutions that are using apps, SMS technology, software, AI, robots, drones, blockchain, and virtual reality. We also welcome solutions that are leveraging traditional, ancestral, as well as natural technologies and knowledge systems. That could be using centuries-old indigenous irrigation or building techniques, plant-based solutions that can reduce the effects of climate change, biodegradable sanitary pads, and so much more.
For specific examples of the diversity of our solutions and their use of technology, check-out, and be inspired by, some of our Solver and Indigenous Fellows’ solutions:
To see more of our Solve and Indigenous Fellows’ solutions, take a look here.
What topic(s) can my solution address?
The Solv[ED] Youth Innovation Challenge welcomes submissions that address one of Solve’s four pillars: Learning, Health, Sustainability and Economic Prosperity. In addition, we welcome solutions that address an unmet social, environmental, or economic need not covered in the four pillars, see more on that below.
Learning includes, but is not limited to, solutions that are:
Supporting access to high quality educational opportunities, including individuals in rural, remote or displaced communities
Preparing underserved people to learn skills they need for the workforce
Enabling teachers and educators to support student and/or adult learning
Sustainability includes, but is not limited to, solutions that are:
Reducing carbon emissions from organizations and communities, particularly through clean energy
Helping communities adapt and build resilience to impacts of climate change such as extreme weather
Creating goods that are renewable, repairable, reusable, and recyclable
Promoting access to sustainable and resilient food and water sources for rural and/or urban communities
Health includes, but is not limited to, solutions that are:
Promoting physical and mental health
Supporting access to effective and affordable healthcare in urban or rural communities
Enabling the prevention, detection and management of illness, emerging pandemics and health security threats
Promoting health equity; reducing and, ultimately, eliminating disparities in health
Economic Prosperity includes, but is not limited to, solutions that are:
Addressing the gaps in technological and digital literacy necessary to participate in a changing job market
Creating pathways to upskill, reskill, and retrain workers, as well as connect them to the demands of employers
Supporting access to platforms that support temporary, informal and freelance workers, helping provide stability, safety nets, and security
Ensuring the inclusion and value of women, low-income and underserved communities in the creation of new technologies, jobs, or entire industries
Provide tools and opportunities for equitable access to jobs, credit, and generational wealth creation for marginalized communities
If your solution does not fit into one of these categories, you will need to clearly define the problem you want to solve in your application. We encourage you to consider the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and how your solution addresses one or more of them.
How will my solution be evaluated?
Potential for Impact: The planned solution implementation has the potential to impact the intended population.
Feasibility: The team has a realistic, practical plan for implementing the solution in the given context.
Innovative Approach: The solution includes a new technology, a new application of technology, a new business model, or a new process for solving the defined problem.
Inclusive Human-Centered Design: The solution is designed with and for underserved communities, and the solution team demonstrates understanding of and proximity to the community.
Scalability: The solution has a plan for financial viability and the potential to be scaled to affect the lives of more people.
How many solutions will be selected?
10 solutions will be selected for the challenge. Each team will be given the title of Solv[ED] Innovator.
How does the selection process work?
The challenge launches on Friday, September 17, 2021 and will be open for four months. The application deadline is Tuesday, January 18 at 11:59am Eastern Time. All applications must be submitted by the deadline in order to be considered for selection.
Between January and March 2022, all applications will be screened and reviewed by Solve staff and external reviewers. A group of 20 Finalists will be selected by the Solv[ED] Judges, a global cross-sector group of leaders and experts. The judges will interview all 20 Finalists and choose 10 to be selected as Solv[ED] Innovators.
The 10 Solv[ED] Innovators will be announced at the Solv[ED] Solutions Event in March 2022 and will receive prize funding and mentorship from the MIT and MIT Solve communities.
I want to participate, but I don’t have a solution yet. Where should I start?
The Solv[ED] Toolkit has free online resources that we’ve picked for you. These resources include videos, courses, articles and podcasts that’ll help you understand your purpose, learn about wicked problems that matter to you, and create innovative solutions.
I have a solution that is fairly advanced. Can I still apply?
Yes! We encourage teams with solutions at all stages to apply.
Is it possible to get funding for the design and development of my solution, even before applying to the challenge?
If you participate in a Solveathon workshop in the Fall, you may apply for micro-grant funding to assist you in the development of your solution before submitting your solution to the challenge. Look out for more information here (under ‘Events’) on how to register for our upcoming Solveathon workshops. Note that most workshops are only open to students at Member Organizations.
How do I submit my application on the Solve platform?
See our How to Apply to a Challenge page for tips and tutorials to get you started.
Can I submit multiple solutions to the challenge?
Yes, but you would have to create another user account to submit another solution to the Solv[ED] Youth Innovation 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 selection criteria.
What will I get if my solution is selected?
Over $200,000 is available in prize funding to share among the 10 selected Solv[ED] Innovators. Selected solutions will be announced during the 2022 Solv[ED] Solutions event, which will take place in March 2022. Each of the 10 selected teams will receive at least $5,000 in prize funding, and have the opportunity to receive follow-on funding. In addition to prize funding, selected Solv[ED] Innovators will receive mentorship and other support from the MIT Solve community.