With sustainability named as a top priority for millennials and Generation Z, companies and organizations are increasingly tapping youth to help find solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.
The World Series of Innovation is an annual online competition organized by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) that invites students between the ages of 13 to 24 to develop solutions that work towards achieving of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s program saw 11 teams of young innovators recognized for their work spanning six unique Innovation Challenges covering jobs, education, clean water, internet access and refugees. Each winning team will receive $2,000 in cash and prizes, plus $500 for their school or youth serving organization. Runner-up teams receive a prize of $250. Over 1,500 international entries were received from 10 different countries.
This was the first year ever that the program focused on the SDGs. Sponsors included presenting partner The Moody’s Foundation, as well as GoDaddy, MasterCard, Pitney Bowes, and The Coca-Cola Company.
Moody’s Good Jobs Challenge
Design a business that helps people obtain jobs that both pay a living wage and are enjoyable for those doing them. (Corresponding to SDG #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth)
- Tie-In Project: A company that works to diversify the tech industry in the United States by contracting students to lead social media projects for tech companies (Adjudicator Winner and People’s Choice Winner)
Moody’s Quality Education Challenge
Design a business that brings high-quality education to more kids. (Corresponding to SDG #4, Quality Education)
- Sunbook: A solar-powered LCD touch-screen book that works offline, promoted through a “get one, give one” campaign similar to Tom’s shoes (Adjudicator Winner)
- Primos Project: A solar-powered printer that prints educational materials for people in rural communities (People’s Choice Winner)
Coca-Cola Clean Water Challenge
Design a brand of bottled water that inspires people to protect and restore water-related ecosystems. (SDG #6, Clean Water and Sanitation)
- Concilio Water: Water bottle connected to an online game that triggers charitable donations for each water trivia question that a customer answers correctly (Adjudicator Winner)
- Current Water: Sustainable sourcing and bottling methods paired with the opportunity for consumers to help select a charity that benefits from proceeds (People’s Choice Winner)
GoDaddy Internet Access Challenge:
Design a business that helps provide developing countries access to the internet (SDG #9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure)
- The Moose: Kinetically powered micro-modems inside sneakers (Adjudicator Winner)
- Dream-Fi: Solar and battery powered internet drones transit signal to a tiny router in your shirt pocket (People’s Choice Winner)
Pitney Bowes STEM Education Challenge
Design a product that helps kids or adults to explore real-world STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). (SDG #4, Quality Education)
- ArchiPicture: An app leveraging augmented reality technology to display 3D images of objects at their actual size (Adjudicator Winner)
- NanoScience: An interactive app that teaches children and adults about nanoscience and its intersection with interests such as sports, biology and fashion (People’s Choice Winner)
MasterCard Refugee Challenge
Design a technology product or service that allows refugees to accept and deliver payments to help cover their most basic needs (SDG #9 Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure)
- Refugee Pay: Mobile wallet with the option for refugees to redeem rebates for necessities (Adjudicator Winner)
- ReThinking Refuge: A system that allows refugees to provide an ID based on a finger scan (People’s Choice winner)
“Rather than have today’s young people characterized by anxiety, terror or isolation, let them be celebrated as Generation Entrepreneur — the bright and resourceful minds who found ways to produce sustainably, to improve public health and to bring greater peace to their neighbors across the globe,” said Shawn Osborne, President and CEO of FTE.
“World Series of Innovation is an introductory activity that helps young people to see themselves as innovators and realize that their creativity is an important ingredient in building a more vibrant economy and sustainable society.”