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.

Through open innovation, Solve is looking for a diverse portfolio of solutions across geography, stage of development, and team members’ gender and background. We believe that there is no one solution the world’s most complex challenges—and encourage people of all backgrounds to submit their applications.

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.*

Challenges timeline

2019 Global Challenges:

  • February 28, 2019: Challenges open 
  • July 1, 2019 at 5:00 pm ET: Deadline to submit a draft solution application
  • July 19, 2019 at 5:00 pm ET: Deadline for editing a solution application
  • August 2019: Finalists announced
  • September 2019: Finalists pitch at Solve Challenge Finals during the UN General Assembly in New York City

2019 Indigenous Communities Fellowship:

  • January 11, 2019: Fellowship opens
  • March 01, 2019: Deadline to submit a project application
  • April 2019: Selected projects announced
  • May 7-9, 2019: Solve at MIT in Cambridge, MA

*Please note that the Indigenous Communities Fellowship follows a different schedule for selecting solutions and includes specific Fellowship components. More about the Fellowship can be found here.

What will I get if my solution is selected?

There's more than $650,000 of prize funding available for this year’s Solver class. If you are selected as a Solver, you’ll receive $10,000 in financing from Solve. Additional fellowships and grant prizes range from $25,000-$100,000 and are available from our partners General Motors, the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, Consensys, and RISE.

However, being a Solver is about much more than prize funding.

As a Solver, you'll receive 12 months of personalized support with curated access and intentional introductions to members of Solve’s community—leaders from corporations, foundations, nonprofits, government, and academia. Through these connections, you'll build the partnerships needed to accelerate your work, validate your impact and business model, and scale your solution.

When you join our MIT-backed community, you'll:

  • Complete a needs assessment to receive a customized partnerships action plan tailored to your financial and nonfinancial needs.

  • Be paired with a mentor to support you as you reach your partnership goals.

  • Meet and connect with investors and cross-sector leaders to create partnerships during Solve’s flagship events, additional workshops throughout the year, and via facilitated introductions. Solve’s community of members includes leading organizations such as Google, GE, General Motors, Atlassian, and Save the Children.

  • Grow your exposure and speak at Solve Challenge Finals and Solve at MIT. These events bring together an exclusive group of 400 cross-sector leaders and prominently feature Solver teams on stage and in workshops.

  • Advance your solution through exclusive Brain Trusts during Solve at MIT and beyond. These are curated working groups bringing together a mini Board of Advisors of accomplished leaders to give you strategic advice and connections.

  • Join a class of peers to share best practices and find collaboration opportunities.

  • Grow your exposure, speak, and network at other international social impact conferences. Previous Solver engagements include the World Economic Forum, Forbes 30 Under 30, UN Women, Concordia, Misk Global Forum, and the Global Education Skills Forum.

  • Hone your pitch and media presentation through customized training in advance of Solve flagship events and other engagements—support that is valued at $15,000.

  • Get the word out with global media and social media exposure. With Solve’s support, Solver teams have been featured in Fast Company, NPR, The Associated Press, and The Boston Globe.

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.

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