Young Innovators Win Top Awards, building internet infrastructure in Eritrea and Ethiopia

Young Innovators Win Top Awards in NFTE’s Latest World Series of Innovation Challenges

The global online competition invites young entrepreneurs to propose innovative solutions to some of the world’s toughest challenges and win prizes for themselves and their communities

NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship), a global nonprofit focused on activating the entrepreneurial mindset in youth, has announced the winners in its latest World Series of Innovation challenge series.

The World Series of Innovation is a global online competition that challenges small teams of young people, ages 13–24, to imagine creative solutions for meeting the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global goals address some of the most serious issues facing the world today, including poverty, equality, and environmental degradation. Students competing in the World Series of Innovation are asked to think big and develop innovative ideas to solve seemingly intractable problems—such as stopping the flow of plastic waste into the marine environment or increasing access to affordable, reliable energy.

More than 2,000 young people from around the world participated in the Fall 2018 challenges. Judging and public voting was conducted earlier this month. Sponsors of challenges in this competition cycle included The Moody’s Foundation, Ernst & Young, LLP (EY), SAP, GoDaddy, and NFTE. The five specific challenges posed in this competition cycle included: 

Moody’s Responsible Consumption Challenge: Design an initiative or innovative approach that promotes responsible consumption. This aligns with SDG #12, Responsible Consumption and Production.

  • EY Future of Work Challenge: Design an initiative or innovative approach that addresses the challenge of jobs that are changing due to automation and AI. This aligns with SDG #8, Decent Work and Economic Growth.
  • GoDaddy Reliable Internet Challenge: Design an initiative or innovative approach that helps to provide reliable internet access to people in developing countries. This aligns with SDG #9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
  • SAP Natural Disaster Challenge: Design an initiative or innovative approach that uses data to address the impacts of natural disasters. This aligns with SDG #9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
  • NFTE Climate Change Challenge: Design an initiative or innovative approach that uses technology to help humans respond to the challenges of climate change. This aligns with SDG #13, Climate Action.

One winning team was selected in each category in the Fall 2018 challenge series. Winners were determined based on combined scores tabulated from public voting and expert judging. Judges were drawn from the organizations sponsoring challenges as well as a broader pool of business leaders and entrepreneurs who volunteered to score competition entries. Each winning team received a $1,500 cash prize, plus $500 for their school or nonprofit organization. Runner-up teams each received a prize of $300.

The winning teams, by challenge category:

  • Moody’s Responsible Consumption Challenge Winner: a team from Mounds View High School in Shoreview, MN, developed the idea for Solupal Bags, a water-soluble and eco-friendly alternative shopping bag that eliminates the need to use—and the waste caused by—plastic shopping bags.
  • EY Future of Work Challenge Winner: a team from the Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria in Astoria, NY, developed the idea for SIM’s Project: Job Security, an app that evaluates users using assessments of the skills they already have, generates relevant job listings, and provides personalized recommendations for online courses and educational services to help them qualify for jobs.
  • Go Daddy Reliable Internet Challenge Winner: a team from Peak to Peak Charter School in Lafayette, CO, developed the idea for Internet Consistency in Eritrea and Ethiopia (ICEE), a company with the goal of bringing the World Wide Web to less developed countries by routing a high speed submarine fiber optic cable from Saudi Arabia to Eritrea, building internet infrastructure in Eritrea and Ethiopia.
  • NFTE Climate Change Challenge Winner: a team from Newton South High School’s chapter of Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) in Newton, MA, developed the idea for AlgaCulture, an innovation to help transform rice farms impacted by climate change into profitable algae farms, enabling villages to export algae for food and biofuel.
  • SAP Natural Disaster Challenge Winner: a team from Pine Crest High School in Fort Lauderdale, FL, developed the idea for Foresight Fire, an innovation that revolutionizes safeguards against wildfires by using measurable data of vulnerable areas to target and treat to prevent fire before it happens.

“NFTE’s World Series of Innovation focuses attention on the power of youth to change the world with their creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurial thinking. We issue new challenges in every competition cycle, and all are designed to inspire young people to think big,” says Shawn Osborne, President and CEO of NFTE. “Exciting ideas emerge from our next generation of entrepreneurs. They’re eager to tackle tough challenges and work together to develop innovative solutions.”

NFTE will be launching a whole new set of World Series of Innovation challenges on February 11, 2019. Young innovators between the ages 13 and 24 are invited to compete in the Spring 2019 challenges. Visit innovation.nfte.com to learn more.

About NFTE :
NFTE is the leading educational nonprofit focused on teaching startup skills and activating the entrepreneurial mindset in young people from under-resourced communities. Research shows the entrepreneurial mindset—skills including problem-solving, adaptability, initiative, and self-reliance—leads to lifelong success. Equipped with the business and academic skills NFTE teaches and empowered by the entrepreneurial mindset, NFTE alumni are prepared to thrive. NFTE works with schools and community partners across the country through its nationwide network of program offices. Alliances with global youth development organizations bring NFTE programs to additional students internationally. NFTE reaches more than 100,000 young people annually and has served well over a million students since its founding. Learn more at nfte.com.