Deadline: 29 January 2021
Digitize. Do More Good.
Cisco is committed to positively impacting 1 billion people by 2025. As part of our work, we seek to inspire and empower a generation of global problem solvers who will not only survive – but drive and thrive – in our increasingly digital economy. With the Internet of Things (IoT) and digital technologies connecting devices and data, good ideas now have the ability to make a difference more quickly than ever before – and we’re here to help.
Our fifth annual Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge aims to recognize new business ideas that leverage technology for social impact from entrepreneurs around the world. Our goal is to advance early-stage projects that are beyond the concept or idea formation stage, but which have not yet generated over $1M USD in funding and/or revenue.
$1,000,000 USD in prize money will help accelerate the adoption of breakthrough technology, products, and services that drive economic development and/or solve social or environmental problems.
- $250,000 USD Grand PrizeA single team will be designated the grand prize winner.
- $75,000 USD Regional First Runners-UpThree teams from Americas, EMEAR and APJC will be designated the regional first runners-up and will receive $75,000 USD each.
- $50,000 USD Second Runners-UpThree teams will be designated the second runners-up and will receive $50,000 USD each.
- $25,000 USD Third Runners-UpThree teams will be designated the third runners-up and will receive $25,000 USD each.
- $10,000 USD Fourth Runners-UpThree teams will be designated the fourth runners-up and will receive $10,000 USD each.
- $10,000 USD People’s ChoiceThe finalist entry that receives the most votes will receive the People’s Choice Award.
Special 2021 Prizes
- $50,000 USD Greenhouse Gas Solutions PrizeA single team will be designated as the winner of this prize.
- $50,000 USD Ethical AI PrizeA single team will be designated as the winner of this prize.
- $50,000 USD Digital Inclusivity PrizeA single team will be designated as the winner of this prize.
- $50,000 USD HBCU Startup PrizeA single team will be designated as the winner of this prize.
- $50,000 USD Pandemic Response PrizeA single team will be designated as the winner of this prize.
More detail about the prizes can found here.
Why should you participate?
In addition to a cash infusion to develop your solution, it will be reviewed by Cisco technology experts and high-profile judges. You’ll receive peer and industry validation for your solution, as well as have a great opportunity for global recognition and publicity.
Should you enter?
If your solution uses digital technology to positively impact society or the environment, consider entering. Areas of impact include, but are not limited to, critical human needs like water or food security, healthcare, financial inclusion, education, accessibility, and the environment. Our goal is to advance early-stage projects that are beyond the concept or idea formation stage, but which have not yet generated over $1M USD in funding and/or revenue. We look for projects with a dedicated team and that have completed a proof of concept for the core functionality of the product/service at a minimum. For detailed eligibility requirements, please reivew the rules.
Register to Participate
You can participate as an individual, as part of a team, or as a business entity. Teams may have a maximum of 5 members. If you are registering as part of a team, your team leader will need to register first and then can invite you to register as a member of the team, using your email address. For detailed eligibility requirements, please review the rules. Once you are ready, click here to register.
Prepare your Submission
There will be two distinct submission rounds.
Round one opens October 27, 2020 and closes January 29, 2021, at 5:00 pm PT. To prepare your submission you will need to complete an online questionnaire which will cover the following topics:
- Defining the problem you are solving
- Explaining the solution, including:
- Its benefits and how it uses IoT or digital technologies
- How it is unique and will be taken to market
- Risks associated with the solution
- 90-second pitch video explaining the solution
Once you are ready, click here to register (or log in) and prepare your submission.
Submit Your Solution
Once you’ve prepared and double-checked all your materials, be sure to login and submit them. You must upload all materials and submit them before January 29, 2021, at 5 pm PT. Remember, you must click submit before the deadline in order for your entry to be considered.
Please check your entry for completeness and ensure your video does not exceed 90 seconds. Also, do not use unlicensed images, music, or video content in your submission.
Judges evaluate submissions and are looking for ideas that are especially innovative and clearly articulate the use of technology, feasibility, and scale of impact.
On March 30, 2021, Semi-Finalists will be invited via email to submit a more detailed proposal. The round two application window opens March 30, 2021 and closes April 23, 2021, at 5 pm PT.
In addition to the information provided in round one, the online round two questionnaire for Semi-Finalists will include the following sections:
- Problem and solution summary explanation
- Detailed technical overview of solution
- Timeline for next 12-24 months
- Addressable Market
- Financial model
- Team bios
If you are selected as a Semi-Finalist, be sure that your team leader logs in to the Challenge website before the April 23, 2021, 5 pm PT deadline to double check all of the materials and click submit in order to be considered for the final round.
Be sure to check that your content meets the submission guidelines, or your entry may be disqualified. It’s also important to check for completeness, appropriate content, video length, and unlicensed images, music, or video. If your round two application is not submitted by the deadline, it will not be considered.
Vote and Promote
If you are selected as a Finalist, we recommend that you share your participation in the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2021 with your supporters and invite them to vote for their favorite entries. Voting for the People’s Choice Award takes place from June 2 – 18, 2021.
Celebrate the Winners
Once the submission period closes our judges will begin evaluating the submissions, looking for solutions that are especially innovative and which clearly articulate their use of technology, feasibility and scale of impact. Winners will be announced on June 29, 2021!