by Stefanie M. Falconi
Today, June 10th 2018, six projects will dispute in São Paulo in the Brazil Global Impact Challenge (GIC) final for a chance to attend Singularity University (1) Venture incubator program in Silicon Valley. The prize is 10 weeks of intensive work at neck-breaking speed to develop your startup. However, I want to focus for a minute, on why these challenges are adrenaline-inducing competitions that are looking to change the rules on the marketplace of ideas.
How do you find the talent wherever it exists?
I recently listened to a talk by a friend and TED fellow, Christopher Ategeka, who reminded the audience that
“Talent is universal, but opportunity is not.”
The next big ideas to solve societal problems could come from anywhere, and most certainly, from the very regions where those challenges are experienced more intensely.
But, how do we find talent in whatever village, city, region, country it resides?
One possible answer is to make a competition with a prize that makes it worth the time of the competitors. Sometimes this is in the form of cash prizes to top teams. Other prizes provide training or resources that have a value proposition to the winner. Then, call everyone to submit their ideas virtually.
For the candidates, this is a low cost, high return exchange. In theory, anyone with internet and a camera phone has a chance to have their ideas heard. Ideas that make it to the finalists stage will very often have their expenses paid to the final event. The exposure to other candidates and to sponsors and mentors working in the same space are invaluable. Healthy competition, when fair and transparent, can fuel really surprising results. It can also bring opportunity and resources to talent that often gets overlooked by traditional investors.
Singularity University (SU) Brazil’s Global Impact Challenge:
I spoke to Regina Njmia, Director of Global Impact Challenges at SU during her Brazil visit, and she noted that,
“one of Singularity University’s goal for hosting Global Impact Challenges is to identify hyper talented individuals by providing an incentive to solve big challenges. So far, we’ve attracted a high calibre of ideas and skills from different parts of the world and its extremely exciting to reward such amazing talent.”
The SU Brazil’s GIC theme is education, and finalist will pitch their idea on the many ways innovations are changing the creation of knowledge, skills, and competencies. Schools, universities, companies and edtech organizations are welcome to pitch the most moonshot ideas for solving Brazil’s persistent education challenges. The competition call points that “despite various efforts over the last decade, 17% of [Brazil’s] adult population has not finished primary education, and 23% of the population is functionally illiterate.”
Full disclosure, I’m a SU alumni. I was chosen as a fellow to the highly competitive Global Solutions Program, and in 2017 spent 10 week in Silicon Valley learning about accelerating technologies. SU’s platform empowers individuals and organizations across the globe to learn, connect, and innovate breakthrough solutions using disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence, robotics, and digital biology. SU is headquartered at NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley.
Local sponsors for the Brazil GIC recognize that these accelerating technologies are changing how and what we learn, making relevant some skills today that may not have been relevant in the past. Likewise new skills will be necessary to navigate the future and whatever challenges it may bring. The Brazil competition calls for “bold and innovative ideas to bolster Brazilians’ ability to educate themselves, while learning in formal as well as in informal environments.”
This year finalists are:
Células Empreendedoras (Recife)
Escribo Inovação para o Aprendizado (Recife)
MedRoom (São Paulo)
Sofia (São Paulo)
Innducate (Porto Alegre)
Schoolastic (Porto Alegre)
These ideas are judged on their potential to transform the reality of how Brazilians see and pursue education. Let’s cheer on the candidates, so that brilliant ideas may rise to the top, no matter where they reside.
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(1) Singularity University is a global learning and innovation community using exponential technologies to tackle the world’s biggest challenges and build an abundant future for all.