For the youth, rewards for innovation

Delegates at the 2011 Innovation Days, held by the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. This year's challenge is to find an innovative solution to reduce the wasting of food. Photo by: NFTE

Food waste is more than an issue of food security. It also harms the environment, as it adds 3.3 billion tons of greenhouse gases to the Earth’s atmosphere each year and eating up natural resources amounting to the yearly discharge of Europe’s largest river, River Volga.

There is a global initiative to find a solution to the problem. You may get involved there – or, if you’re 11-24 with an innovative idea to reduce food waste, form a team, submit your idea to this year’s World Series of Innovation, and you might just win $10,000 for your group and $1,500 for your school.

“The World Series of Innovation is a great opportunity for all young people to think big and solve real world issues that can make a global impact,” Amy Rosen, CEO and president of WSI organizer, Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, told Devex.

WSI involves a series of contests, including developing solutions to food security and nutrition challenges sponsored by The Howard G. Buffet Foundation’s 40 Chances initiative and coming up with a smartphone or tablet game that can help improve young people’s job fitness and community commitment worldwide sponsored by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. Prizes for each challenge vary.

To join, interested participants need to download the required toolkit, pick a challenge for their teams of at least two but not more than five members, and submit their ideas along with a two-minute commercial for their proposed product or service. The deadline for submission is Oct. 18.

A panel of judges will then pick three finalists for each category, whose ideas will be put to an online public voting during Global Entrepreneurship Week in November. From there, two teams from each category will be chosen as winners.

In the past, winners hailed from North America. This year is expected to be different.

“This is the first year that we have truly opened the challenge to a worldwide audience,” Rosen said. “It was always our plan to start with a pilot among NFTE students only, and then broaden our reach throughout the U.S., and then expand to the rest of the world.”

In the United States, NFTE has launched so-called Innovation Days, which are one-day events where students, with the help of instructors and community volunteers, brainstorm innovative products and services using the WSI toolkit and other materials provided by NFTE to complete the WSI submission forms. According to NFTE, anyone can host an Innovation Day.

So far, teachers and students from 23 countries have downloaded the WSI toolkit, according to Rosen. But she said NFTE hopes to receive submissions from many more countries.

Read our previous #innov8aid and let us know what you think by leaving a comment below.

About the author

  • Eliza Villarino

    Eliza Villarino currently manages one of today’s leading publications on humanitarian aid, global health and international development, the weekly GDB. At Devex, she has helped grow a global newsroom, with talented journalists from major development hubs such as Washington, D.C, London and Brussels. She regularly writes about innovations in global development.

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