Canada | May 16, 2018

SOLVE’ing global (and local) challenges takes center stage at MIT

Dennis Price
ImpactAlpha Editor

Dennis Price

UPDATE: May 18. – At the MIT Solve conference in Cambridge, Mass., Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke about effective leadership, gender equity and the time he learned that Santa doesn’t exist. ImpactAlpha’s Jessica Pothering, in the crowd, filed these additional dispatches.

  • On the millennia-old solutions of Canada’s indigenous communities: “We have systematically and deliberately over the course of generations and centuries oppressed, marginalized, ignored and otherwise tried to assimilate indigenous peoples… We are now at a point where it’s untenable from a moral but also a practical and economic perspective… The people who have lived on this land for millennia have figured out how to be long-term responsible, sustainable, open to diversity—all of those things that we’re struggling with now—many of them have solutions millennia ago that we tried to erase and now need to be valuing and drawing back and celebrating.”
  • On investing in Canadians: “We have more STEM grads in our largest province Ontario, population 13 million people, than they do in California, which has a population [the size] of all of Canada. We have been doubling down on education, doubling down on skills training… We have put in, deliberately, significant supports for people going back to school, even if they have a family, even if they have a job, to try and make sure that people are getting the tools that they need—programming, technical training and skills development—so that they can get those new jobs… so there’s that reassurance and investment in our people.”

ImpactAlpha, May 16 – When Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addressed the French National Assembly in April, he called on France, Canada and other members of the G7 to “have the audacity to build a world together that is more progressive, more diverse, more green, more inclusive, more open, more democratic; a world with more freedom, more equality and more kindness.”

It’s a message that no doubt resonates with the past and future finalists of MIT’s Solve competition—and one which he will likely reiterate in his address at Solve’s flagship event in Cambridge, Massachusetts, this week.

    • Identifying challenges… Solve is wrapping up its 2017 challenge and inaugurating this year’s competition, which focuses on four themes: work of the future; frontline health workers and services; teachers and educators; and climate mitigation and adaptation for coastal communities.
    • Speaker lineup… The event features an all-star lineup of speakers including Trudeau, Yo-Yo Ma, Ursula Burns, Alphabet’s Eric Schmidt and Mozilla’s Mitchell Baker.
    • Good ideas… MIT launched Solve in 2015 as an open-source innovation challenge for major global issues. Solve seeks to open up access to resources and networks for global problem solving and says that anyone with an idea is eligible to participate. “You don’t need to carry an MIT ID card to have a good idea,” Solve’s executive director Alex Amouyel told ImpactAlpha.

To date, 66 finalists, or Solvers, have been selected from the eight challenges held. They come from 23 countries and 42% are women. The challenge and its member network aim to match individuals and teams who have ideas with funders and mentors who have the resources to support them.