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3 Reasons Why Your Organization Should Run an Open Innovation Challenge with MIT Solve

As a social impact funder, your goal is to deploy investment dollars to solutions that address the critical challenges of our time, from climate change and education to health and economic development. Yet, funders often end up supporting the same types of solutions. For instance, many foundations do not accept unsolicited applications, meaning you must be invited to apply for funding. So, unless you already know the grantmaker because you have been previously funded by their organization  or have a connection to the program officer, your chances of unlocking philanthropic capital from the grantmaker are slim. 

While supporting known and trusted partners year over year can be a positive thing, especially when doing deep community-level work or interventions that require real scale, most of the time, this approach presents several issues, including:

  • A lack of diversity in who is being funded as well as the types of interventions;

  • A lack of demonstrated impact at the outcome level; and

  • A lack of innovation and new ideas.

Since its inception, MIT Solve has managed dozens of open innovation Challenges to source and support solutions that are moving the needle on the world’s most pressing problems. We work with partners from leading philanthropic foundations, corporations, and multilateral organizations to host Prizes and custom Custom Challenges on our open innovation platform and have brokered over $25 million in commitments to diverse social entrepreneurs across the world. Past Challenges and Prizes range from The World Bank ID4D Mission Billion Challenge to The Elevate Prize, Digital Workforce Challenge, Rethink Plastics Challenge, Reimagining Pathways to Employment in the US Challenge, and many more. 

Solve’s approach is a more transparent, open process that levels the playing field for innovators and provides quality, vetted investment opportunities for funders. How do we do this? Here are three reasons why your organization should run an open innovation Challenge with MIT Solve.

  1. Solve's Proven Methodology   

  2. Partners get access to all the benefits and resources Solve offers, from MIT’s deep technical expertise to our networks and platforms, as well as tailored challenge outreach and marketing, whether by region, technology, or demographics. We also coach applicants, produce pitch events, run Solveathon workshops, and convene judges. The result is a fully managed open innovation Challenge with end-to-end services, from brainstorming and design to awards and winner support, that sources the world’s best innovations to address critical problems our partners are invested in solving.

    Solve’s custom Custom Challenges also include advising and management of follow-on support. While all prizes include funding, we encourage partners to couple their financial awards with support programs that amplify the winning teams by providing critical capacity building support. Our resource network includes not only past examples of successful mentorship, coaching, and matchmaking but also tools to help assess needs, prepare for media exposure, and more

  3. Our Open Innovation Platform 

  4. At the heart of our custom Custom Challenges is Solve’s award-winning platform designed based on 10 years of research conducted by the Climate CoLab, a project of the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence. Anyone, anywhere can submit a solution to open innovation Challenges hosted on Solve’s platform. Solve has over 208,000 active registered platform users, who are able to submit applications and comment and vote on published solutions. All judging is completed inside the platform, with solutions assigned to specific judges to review and evaluate. Custom Challenges are completely customizable, including application questions, languages offered, voting features, and evaluation phases. 

  5. Access to the Solve Community

Launching a Challenge with Solve gives you access to our global community of innovative Solver teams as well as Members and partners from the public, private, nonprofit, and academic sectors. We’ll leverage our community to support your Challenge from start to finish, from crowdsourcing and promotion to judging, pitch events, and more.

You'll also have the opportunity to host Solveathon and Challenge Design workshops—human-centered design-thinking workshops led by experienced Solve facilitators—and attend our annual flagship events Solve Challenge Finals and Solve at MIT, which convene 400-500 social impact leaders, technologists, executives, and industry experts to network and form connections and partnerships. 

Interested in hosting your own custom open innovation Challenge on the MIT Solve platform? Organizations interested in running a Custom Challenge with MIT Solve can schedule a demo here or contact Sara Monteabaro, Director of Strategic and Partner Programs at to learn more about our offerings. 

Custom Challenges
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