How Challenges Work

How are we CrowdSolving global challenges?

    Anyone the world-over can participate in a Solve Challenge and submit a solution. Whether you’ve just started building your solution and your team, you’re running a pilot, or you’re ready to scale, we’re looking for innovators and entrepreneurs with the best solutions to these global challenges.
    The first round of judging takes place once solutions close. After an initial screening by Solve staff, our experts and industry leaders select finalists for each challenge from all of the solutions submitted on the platform. Those finalists will be invited to a live pitch event where the most promising solutions are selected to make up that year's Solver class.*
    Once selected, the Solver class then gains access to Solve’s community. The Solve staff helps match-make between the Solver class and leaders from the tech industry, business, philanthropy, government, and civil society who are seeking partnerships and opportunities to implement innovative, scalable ideas. Partnerships between our Solver class and members will be announced at our flagship event Solve at MIT.

What type of solutions will Solve accept?

Optimistic solutions. Innovative solutions. Human-centered solutions. Tech solutions. Solutions that need partnerships across industry.

Solve considers solutions at all stages of development:

  • Idea: We welcome you to submit your solution to participate in the discussion, but please note that solutions that are still only at the concept stage are unlikely to be selected. You have until the submission deadline to prototype and experiment with your idea!
  • Prototype: A venture building and testing its product, service, or business model. Typically described as "Pre-Seed" if For Profit.
  • Pilot: An enterprise deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community. Hybrids and For Profits would typically be in a "Seed" round and generating revenue (whether or not they are cash flow positive).
  • Growth: An enterprise with an established product, service, or business model rolled out, which is poised for further growth in multiple communities or countries. Organizations at this stage should have a clear path to sustainability. For Profits at this stage would be "Seed" or "Series A."
  • Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries and that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency. For Profits in this stage would be "Series A" or "Series B."

The most important thing is that your solution will solve the Challenge posed. And, we’re MIT! So, every solution must include technology -- whether new or existing -- as a key component.

How will my solution be evaluated?

Our judges are experts and leaders from across industries. We’ll announce who the judges are within each challenge.

In the first round, Solve staff will perform an initial screening of all applications for completeness, for coherency, and for whether the solution appropriately addresses the challenge. Then our judges will score the screened applications to determine finalists. Here are the criteria the judges will use to score the applications on the website:

  • Alignment: The solution addresses the challenge that has been set forth using technology.
  • Potential for Impact: The planned implementation of the solution has the potential to impact lives.
  • Scalability: The solution can be grown and scaled to affect the lives of more people.
  • Feasibility: It is feasible to implement the solution, and the team has a plan for the solution to sustain itself financially.
  • Innovative Approach: This is a new technology, a new application of a technology, a new business model, or a new process for solving the challenge

In the second round, each finalist will pitch before the challenge judges and a live audience. The judges will determine which solutions are the most promising. This new Solver class will receive support and partnership from the Solve community.*

Challenge Timelines

Challenges on Coastal Communities, Frontlines of Health, Teachers and Educators, and Work of the Future:

  • March 1, 2018 – Challenges open 
  • July 1, 2018 - Deadline to submit a draft solution application
  • July 20, 2018 - Deadline for editing a solution application
  • August, 2018 - Finalists announced
  • September 22-24, 2018 - Finalists pitch in New York during the U.N. General Assembly 

2018 Oceti Sakowin Solve Fellowship:

  • March 1, 2018 - Fellowship application opens
  • March 27, 2018 - Deadline to submit a project application
  • April, 2018 - Selected projects announced
  • May 14-18, 2018 - Solve at MIT
  • August, 2018 - Summit in Standing Rock

What will I get if my solution is selected?

Solve is a community. Once the solutions are selected to be part of our Solver class, those teams will gain access to everyone in our community from other members of the Solver cohort, to Solve staff, to MIT faculty, to leaders from the tech industry, business, philanthropy, government, and civil society.*

We’ll work with you to provide:

  • Solver Funding: All solutions selected in Solve’s four current Global Challenges will receive a $10,000 grant funded by Solve. 
  • Partnerships: Solve Staff help match-make between Solvers and leaders from the tech industry, business, philanthropy, government, and civil society who are seeking partnerships to implement innovative, scalable ideas.
  • Events: Solvers receive exclusive access to Solve's year-round events including Solve at MIT, panel discussions, ideation and design thinking workshops, and more.
  • Hot Desks: Solve provides "hot desk" office space on the MIT campus for Solvers to work from while they foster partnerships across the MIT campus and Boston area.
  • Portfolios: Solve staff works with selected Solvers to create industry-standard profiles ready to be disseminated to potential investors, advisors, distributors, and more.
  • Peer-to-Peer Networking: Solvers can connect with other social entrepreneurs across the Solve community to get peer-to-peer feedback on accomplishments, roadblocks, best practices, and lessons learned.

What is Solve at MIT?

Solve at MIT is our flagship annual event held on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA, bringing together over 300 leaders from the tech industry, business, philanthropy, government, and civil society. Solvers and their solutions will be featured on stage, in online and written materials, and through dedicated challenge workshops. Solve staff will continue supporting the Solver class to match-make partnerships with our community members who will help make Solver solutions a reality.

Find out more about this year's Solve at MIT taking place on the MIT campus from May 16 to 18.

*Please note that the Oceti Sakowin Fellowship will follow a different schedule for selecting solutions and will includes specific Fellowship components. More about the Fellowship can be found here.

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