2014 Social Innovation Relay Winners

What do malaria-fighting mosquito traps, a hydro-bucket that can reintroduce plant life to arid regions and urban-exploration mobile apps have in common?

Bright young minds have been hard at work coming up with these creative ideas.

Getting young people excited about entrepreneurship is key to building businesses and expanding economic growth in any society. Skilled young entrepreneurs will be the job creators of the future.

That’s the goal of the Social Innovation Relay (SIR)—to encourage the next generation of socially responsible entrepreneurs to develop game-changing concepts. Developed by HP, in partnership with Junior Achievement-Young Enterprise (JA-YE), the SIR is a worldwide competition that challenges students aged 15 through 18 to create innovative business concepts to help solve some of the world’s most pressing challenges. The collaboration is part of HP’s Living Progress initiative—our vision for creating a better future for everyone through our actions and innovations.

This year, more than 2,000 teams from 18 countries submitted papers and presented their business concepts, supported by nearly 400 HP volunteers. Teams from each country competed at national finals, and the winning teams from each country competed at the online global finals on July 8.

Team Malre Kenya, took home the global title for their winning concept— an innovative mosquito trap.

“We are proud to have represented our country and our school on a global platform,” said Austin Kiugu, member of the Kenyan team. “We have had an opportunity to build our confidence and the ability to present our dreams to a team ready to support and build them to a reality.”

Rounding out the SIR’s top three spots were Team Green Barriers, from the United States, which came up with a device that taps into deep layers of groundwater, helping to reduce desertification; and Team Sonder, from China, which developed an interactive app that allows city residents to explore their urban environment.

“This year features an exciting new element,” said Ann Ewasechko, SIR program manager. “The Pwee Foundation, which joined as a partner this year, is offering coaching and potential funding to the winning teams to help bring their business concepts to reality.”

Hundreds of HP employees participated in this year’s SIR in a number of different roles. Some acted as business advisors, guiding the students as they refined, explained and defended their ideas. Others helped to coordinate the competition, visiting schools to raise awareness and increase participation. HP employees also acted as judges for the national and global finals along with representatives from the European Commission, the Skoll Center for Entrepreneurship and the Pwee Foundation.

The Social Innovation Relay is aligned closely to HP’s online business and IT skills training program, HP LIFE e-Learning. The program’s social entrepreneurship module is a cornerstone of the Social Innovation Relay content.

“Every year, the Social Innovation Relay shows us how human ingenuity and technology can be combined to create positive social change,” said Jeannette Weisschuh, director of HP’s Economic Progress team. “This exciting, hands-on competition provides students all over the globe with a great opportunity to think and act like social entrepreneurs and is one of the ways we are applying  our talent and technology at HP to reshape the way learning happens, both in and out of the classroom.”

What a journey for these bright, young minds. Thanks to the SIR they learned to think like innovators while developing skills that will help them grow into globally minded, socially responsible entrepreneurs.

For more information about the SIR finalists, visit the JA-YE site and watch videos from all 18 teams.