Past Challenges

Innovating for a Sustainable Post-Pandemic World

In spring 2020, in the mist of the global COVID19 pandemic, we challenged students to come up with bold ideas for how to tackle pandemic and post-pandemic challenges with crowdsourcing and open source solutions. The competition was open to high-school students, undergraduate students and Master students, from any field and region, and was run as a Summer Challenge, with daily coaching sessions over the full month of July 2020.

AI for the SDG

In spring 2020, AI for the SDG targeted AI applications to benefit the SDGs, and it was run in collaboration with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO),  Goodwall, and AI for Good. The competition, open only to undergraduate students from any field and region, rewarded those with a bold idea for how to combine Artificial Intelligence with crowdsourcing for the the SDGs.

Tackling Plastic Pollution

In fall 2019 the challenge targeted one of the most pressing problems for our environment, Plastic Pollution. The coaching was run in collaboration with UN Environment, and the challenges demanded innovation in science, advocacy, and action. More than 200 students applied from all over the world, and 32 were selected for the online coaching, which featured experts from international organizations and academia. Prizes included invitations to the WSIS Forum 2020 and AI for Good events in Geneva.

Scaling Education for the SDGs (SDG 4)

In spring 2019 the challenge targeted SDG 4: Scaling Education for the SDGs, and young innovators explored the use of crowdsourcing and Open Data, combined with new technologies and social networks, to maximize the impact of SDG Education. The challenge was run in collaboration with the second edition of the Geneva Trialogue. At the event, University of Geneva in collaboration with UNITAR, the UN Institute for Training and Research, and XuetangX, China’s largest MOOC platform, convene thought leaders, education innovators and decision makers from educational institutions, international organizations and the private sector.

Mobile health for non-communicable diseases (SDG 3)

In spring 2018 the challenge targeted SDG 3: Healthy Lives and Well-Being for All at All Ages, and was run in collaboration with Be He@lthy, Be Mobile, a joint program between the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the World Health Organization (WHO). Students (Bachelors or Masters level) were coached by experts from ITU, WHO and Tsinghua X-lab about crowdsourcing solutions to mobile health for non-communicable diseases, using open data.75 students registered from around the world, and 35 were selected to form 9 teams. Prizes included invitations to UNLEASH Innovation Lab in Singapore (Carlsberg Foundation, Dalberg, Deloitte and UNDP) and to the SDG Summer School.

What should the job of the future look like? (SDG 8)

The Challenge was organized in 2016 in collaboration with the Alliance4YOUth, a pan-European business initiative to promote youth employment. The theme of the challenge was SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth. 100 students participated from all over Switzerland and they were coached by experts from ILO and mentored by senior staff from the Alliance4YOUth private sector partners. The challenge ended with a final sponsored pitch event and prizes included internships at Alliance4YOUth companies.

Sustainable Cities (SDG 11)

In the summer of 2016 the O17 challenge was inspired by the upcoming UN Habitat III cconference (Quito, Ecuador). In the end, 12 participants and 6 projects were selected. The participants included students, NGOs and individual citizens. Projects included mapping food markets as potential hotspots for epidemics, tracking stages of reconstruction in Gaza, and providing cheap and sustainable clean water in Nigeria. The projects were featured in a dedicated public exhibition at the UN Habitat III conference, which was visited by UN delegates and the local public.

Pilots (All SDGs)

The first two pilot editions of the O17 challenge invited a wide range of participants to tackle SDG-related issues, with the only requirement of using crowdsourcing and existing Open Data. In total, 18 participants and 7 projects were selected, including, among others, crowd mapping sexual violence in India, monitoring the use of water resources in Nigeria, tracking the extent of poverty in Mexico’s slums and putting rural Tanzania on the map. (2015 and 2016)