MIT Solve's Financial Model
MIT Solve was created in 2015 to solve some of the world's pressing issues through open innovation. Funding comes from membership inaugural fees and partnership grants. Other than funding, MIT Solve's programs are sustained through other forms of resources such as mentorship and facilitation. The first round of challenges introduced by the organization was in 2016 and they were able to partner up with huge organizations and influential leaders. $2 million in grant money was pledged for the first round.
Aimed towards expanding social impact and open innovation, MIT Solve was born out of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, in 2015. Its 4-day inaugural conference from October 5 to October 8, 2015 was announced on December 2014. The event was attended by more than 350 leaders in technology, philanthropy, business, and policy. The participants gathered for workshops, talks and discussions focused on urgent global problems around education, resources, health care and infrastructure.
After its first successful major event, teams have taken a number of initiatives including funding an inclusive innovation competition, easing the barriers to building a safe, cheap new nuclear reactor design and project-planning for schools in Johannesburg, South Africa; Haiti; and Seattle, Washington.
In an interview conducted by the Asian Entrepreneur with Alexandra Amouyel, Executive Director at MIT Solve, she describes the organization as a "broker" in terms of funding. Money doesn't flow directly through the organization. She further explained that it is different from other crowdsourcing platforms or non-profits in that it is first and foremost a community of private, public, non-profit and academic leaders that collaborate to solve pressing issues in the world. Although there is funding through partnerships, resources aren't just financial in nature. Help provided through mentorship, business acumen, organizational introductions, office space, lab space, equipment and the like are equally beneficial for the organization's success.
MIT Solve's website has a page for parties who are interested in becoming a member of the organization. The membership is by invitation only so an inquiry form has to be submitted first before being considered for membership. Once approved, there is an inaugural fee of $5,000 that is valid for 12 months. We tried to look for data on how many members MIT Solve currently has but the organization's website and even outside sources do not provide such information. We also checked the annual report for Massachusetts Institute of Technology but it does not contain information about MIT Solve either. The percentage of memberships versus donations cannot, therefore, be determined.
1. United Nations Academic Impact
The UNAI partnered with MIT Solve on November 2016 on the latter's first ever Solve challenge. Through the partnership, ideas and solutions are crowdsourced to address problems regarding refugee education, carbon contributions and chronic diseases. Selected finalists were provided with mentorship, training, and networking opportunities.
2. Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
Announced on May 2017, Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah co-chairs Solve's challenge for Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future.
3. Laurene Powell Jobs, President, Emerson Collective
Along with Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Laurne Powell Jobs is co-chairman of the Youth, Skills, and the Workforce of the Future challenge.
4. Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
DFAT pledged US$1 million in grant funding to successful solvers who can address the needs of women and girls, and people with a disability in the Indo-Pacific.
5. Atlassian Foundation International
Atlassian Foundation International pledged US$1 million in grant funding to innovators who can come up with the most scalable education models for the disadvantaged youth whose skills can be developed to make them the workforce of the future.
6. Yo-Yo Ma, Cellist
World-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma will curate the arts and culture mentorship prize for winners who can provide solutions using arts and culture. Yo-Yo Ma will bring together a group of artists and cultural leaders as mentors.
For the sustainability and women and technology challenges, Forbes has partnered up with MIT Solve.
8. VICE Impact
VICE Impact, an advocacy platform, will help out with the refugee education challenge by releasing a documentary.
Ina Fried, Axios's Chief Technology Correspondent, will send out a special edition of Axios's daily Tech newsletter about Solve's event.
According to MIT Solve's Executive Director Alexandra Amouyel, it is too early to provide quantifiable results regarding the organization's success. The partnerships and participation of people from around the world to provide ideas and solutions, for her, is evidence of progress and early success. She says open innovation is the key to success. Through open innovation, anyone from anywhere can good ideas to solve global challenges.
To help realise MIT Solve's vision of creating widespread social impact through open innovation, the organization seeks partnership with non-profits, academics, private and public companies/individuals to contribute in any way they can. Aside from financial, resources can be in the form of mentorship, sharing best practices, promoting challenges and facilitating introductions.