How Challenges Work
Solve’s mission is to tackle the most pressing problems of our time by accelerating the work of early-stage tech entrepreneurs across the world. Through the power of collaboration between innovators and funders, paired with the platform of MIT and its history of technological achievement, we hope to empower all citizens of the world to join Generation Solve, and ignite transformative change.
Each year Solve seeks solutions from around the world for its Global Challenges, and anyone can submit a solution by July 1, 2019. Finalists are invited to pitch their solutions to a live audience of hundreds of leaders and an expert panel of judges at Solve Challenge Finals during UN General Assembly Week in New York City.
Selected Solver teams will join a supportive community of peers, funders, and experts to help advance their work through Solve's 12-month program; receive mentorship and strategic advice from Solve and MIT networks; attend Solve at MIT, our annual flagship event in May; and receive access to in prize funding for the 2019 Challenges.
In the last two years, thanks to our partners, Solve has brokered commitments of over $12 million in funding for Solver teams and entrepreneurs, in addition to in-kind support such as mentorship, technical expertise, media and conference exposure, and business and entrepreneurship training.
Who can apply to Solve's Challenges?
Anyone, anywhere around the world can submit a solution to Solve's 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 relevant solution, we hope you'll apply.
For full participation details, please see our Terms of Service.
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.
Solution applications must be written in English. We will consider solutions at all stages of development:
- Concept: We welcome you to submit your solution idea, but please note that concept-stage solutions are unlikely to be selected. You have until the editing 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 that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency. For-profits in this stage would be "Series A" or "Series B."
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.
2019 Challenge cycle timeline
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 lives.
- 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.
- 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.
*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 Solve Challenge Finals, travel to New York will be reimbursed and accommodations will be provided.
The most promising solutions will form the new Solver class and build partnerships with the Solve community.
What will I get if my solution is selected?
There's more than $1.6 million of funding available for the 2019 Solver Class. If you are selected as a Solver, you’ll receive a $10,000 grant from Solve, as well as access to the prize funding below. Visit each Challenges page to learn more about prizes.
However, being a Solver is about much more than prize funding. When you join our MIT-backed network, you'll receive 12 months of personalized support with intentional introductions to members of Solve’s cross-sector community. Through these connections, you'll build the partnerships needed to accelerate your work, validate your impact and business model, and scale your solution.
Read about all the transformational benefits of being a Solver.
What is Solve at MIT?
Solve at MIT is our flagship annual event held on the MIT campus in Cambridge, MA, bringing together more than 500 cross-sector leaders as well as MIT faculty and students. The event will feature Solver teams on stage, in online and written materials, and through dedicated Challenge workshops.