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You Could Win $250,000 in Startup Funding at the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge

If you’re running a startup– or if you know someone who does –then this piece of news from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology might interest you. Through their Inclusive Innovation Challenge, they’re offering tech ventures across the world the chance to get funding worth up to $250,000.

The organizers of the Inclusive Innovation Challenge at the MIT say they’re reaching out to startups working to improve the lives of lower-income people in their communities, wherever they are in the world. The competition is designed to promote technology as a means to shared prosperity- a vision for the future of work and the economy which may be threatened by the misapplication of new tech.

Since its launch in 2016, the IIC has registered over 3,000 organizations from more than 100 nations and has had more than a hundred winners awarded a total of $3.5 million. This year, the MIT will be giving over $1 million to entrepreneurs who are creating opportunities for an ever-growing global workforce.

The Structure of the Competition

The IIC takes place in five continents, including Africa. Each continent produces 60 finalists, from which judges select a total of 20 regional winners to participate in a grand finale. Four ultimate winners emerge from this final stage, each representing one of four categories for which prizes are awarded.

Each winning team at the final stage takes home $250,000.

Who Should Apply?

Startups and other organizations (whether for profit or non-profit) that are creating opportunities for people from moderate or low income backgrounds are encouraged to apply. If you’re going to be submitting an application, be sure your venture also meets these other criteria:

•You’re bringing about economic prosperity for working people by applying tech to real world problems.

•You’ve already gone beyond the ‘idea phase’; you’re doing real work and making an impact on the ground.

•Your solutions can become more effective and reach more people over time.

How to Enter for the Competition

You can enter under one of these four categories:

•Skills development and opportunity matching

•Income growth and job creation

 •Technology access

•Financial inclusion

Applications can be submitted through the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge website. They should contain a short pitch explaining the applicant’s approach to empowering people in the digital economy where you are; lay out their vision; discuss your strategies and solutions, and the impact they’re having; competitive advantages and risks; as well as your organization’s team and structure, financial position, and what you’ll do with the prize money if you get it.

Note that you have up to May 9 to register on the online platform. Once that’s closed, everyone who’s registered will have up to May 23 to complete their application process on the website.

How the Competition Will Play Out

Entries will be examined by a team of experts, who will score and comment on them (judges from Nigeria will include Audu Maikori, CEO, Chocolate City Group; Anna Ekeledo, Executive Director, AfriLabs; Boluwaji Oyewumi, Director of Business Development at Moringa School; Chioma Ukonu, co-founder, Recyclepoints; and Murtala Sanni, CEO, Wesabi). They will be evaluating entries with respect to their vision, impact, participation, and scalability

Organizations chosen to participate at the African regional final will be named on July 23. At that event, four winners representing each category will be chosen by a panel of judges, and they’ll proceed to the global finale.

Global prize winners will be announced on November 21. Winners from each category will get $250,000 which should help scale their business.

Visit the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge website to find out more.

Featured image source: Dobrusin Law Firm

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Ikenna Nwachukwu

Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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