Why CrowdSolve? The Powerful Impact of Open Innovation and Engineered Partnerships

Why CrowdSolve? Managing Director at MIT Solve, Hala Hanna, speaks about the power of open innovation and engineered partnerships.

It’s getting crowded. Today, there are around 7.6 billion people in the world. The world population is projected to reach 8.5 billion in 2030, and to increase further to 9.7 billion in 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. Alongside this dramatic population growth, technology continues to alter society at an exponential rate.

How do we ensure advances in technology support our expanding population, enabling more good than evil? How do we use technology to improve the lives of all — not just a fortunate few?

To keep up with this exponential change, we need exponential collaboration. That’s what CrowdSolving is all about — using open innovation and collaboration to find and support the most promising solutions to complex global Challenges. Read on to learn how it works.

“If we include everyone, we can solve everything.”

Have you ever used the app Duolingo to learn languages, or edited a Wikipedia page? If you answered yes, then you’ve personally participated in mass collaboration. You’ve contributed free time to build a reliable translation engine, or the world’s largest encyclopedia.

Examples of mass collaboration leading to problem-solving are everywhere. Online gamers collaborate for discoveries, such as figuring out the structure of an AIDS-related enzyme in 10 days on Foldit—a breakthrough that took scientists a decade.

Data sharing on collaborative platforms enable widespread improvements in well-being such as real-time traffic sharing that saves local drivers time and gas on their commutes. Additionally, many purpose-driven organizations use crowdsourcing to achieve their core objectives, from Kiva crowd-vetting loan requests to Ushahidi crowdmapping elections and human rights violations.

At Solve, we believe this collaborative talent, ingenuity, and creativity exists everywhere. To find them, here are three things we do when sourcing solutions to our Challenges:

  • Anyone, anywhere can apply: There are no prerequisites for becoming a Solver —some of our Solver teams are pro-bono experiments, others are venture-backed companies.
  • Worldwide outreach: To ensure our call is heard worldwide, we hold independently organized Solveathon workshops in cities like Beirut, Ho Chi Minh, Berlin, and Portland, ME. You can host one by filling out this short application form.
  • Frictionless collaboration: Our online innovation platform allows contributors to interact, build teams, and vote up and down solutions. Join in on the fun here.

Our goal is to include as many people as possible. As Megan Smith, 3rd Chief Technology Officer of the US, said during our Solve flagship meeting, “If we include everyone, we can solve everything.”

Engineering and supercharging trustworthy partnerships

Open innovation has the power to catalyze scalable solutions and systemic change. To unlock that power, it takes partnerships. Building partnerships is an art as much as a science. It’s an exercise in trust that cannot be coded. Solving the complex problems of our time requires participation at all levels across industries, governments, and civil societies.

Take for example Kiron, one of our solutions to Solve’s Refugee Education Challenge. Kiron is a Berlin-based open education startup that allows refugees to earn free college credits and degrees. It reaches thousands of refugees because its programs are recognized by governments and certified by global universities. Through its multi-stakeholder partnerships, Kiron has established the credibility and support to scale.

Related Articles: Supporting Innovation in Refugee Inclusion | Innovative Healthcare Startups from CES2021

Solve helps broker similar partnerships between Solver teams on one hand, and leaders from the public, private, and philanthropic space on the other, so that the most promising solutions submitted on our open innovation platform can scale. Here are three ways we do this:

  • Curated community: The Solve network is made up of the selected entrepreneurs, business leaders, policymakers, researchers, and other change-agents who have a shared purpose of supporting the most promising solutions to pressing problems. To become part of the community, here is more information.
  • Dedicated support: Relationship officers get to know closely the social, environmental, and impact goals of both the Solver teams and the community members, and together develop a targeted support plan.
  • Convening: Our meetings supercharge the community. Through carefully engineered working sessions, we see conversations blossom into commitments at a rate and speed they otherwise wouldn’t. We saw this in full swing at our recent flagship meeting, Solve at MIT.

If you’d like to join our efforts, make a difference by becoming a member of the Solve community, and sign up for The CrowdSolve newsletter to hear inspiring stories from our Solver teams.

Let’s Solve together. Join the movement today.

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About the Organization: Solve is an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a mission to solve world challenges. Solve is a marketplace for social impact innovation. Through open innovation Challenges, Solve finds incredible tech-based social entrepreneurs all around the world. Solve then brings together MIT’s innovation ecosystem and a community of Members to fund and support these entrepreneurs to help them drive lasting transformational impact. Join Solve on this journey at solve.mit.edu.


Article updated on the 25/01/2021

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed here by Impakter.com columnists are their own, not those of Impakter.com. In the Featured Photo: Ushahidi dev meetup.  Featured Photo Credit: afromusing

About the Author /

Hala is Managing Director, Community at Solve. She oversees Solve’s work advancing tech solutions to economic, social, and environmental global Challenges through open innovation and partnership. Hala’s career revolves around building catalytic partnerships and strategies for social impact. This work has included a public-private initiative for employment in the Middle East at the World Economic Forum, advising governments on public sector reform and donor engagement through her work at the World Bank and the UN, and building strategies and business models for nonprofits. Her last appointment at the World Economic Forum was as Director of Strategy and Impact. In 2015, she cofounded a policy platform that counts over 100,000 subscribers. Hala holds two Master's degrees—one in Public Policy from Harvard University, and one in Development Economics from American University, DC. She earned a Bachelor's degree in Economics from the American University of Beirut. She served as a Global Leadership Fellow of the World Economic Forum and as Senior Advisor to the Women Political Leaders Global Forum.

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