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2021 ITU Innovation Challenges

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ITU Innovation Challenges Overview

One year in, the COVID-19 crisis continues to have a significant impact on society. It has exposed the fragility of the current economic system across the globe, but it has also provided a powerful lens to examine the underlying conditions that led to this fragility, and illuminated gaps in economic and social values chains, providing the opportunity to improve economic resilience and related issues.

Digital technologies have shown great potential in mitigating, recovering from as well as preventing pandemics and other disasters. Economic recovery and resilience in the “new normal" will come through the power of digital transformation.

Therefore, there is a need to identify, recognize and support the development of digital communities accelerating digital transformation in the post-COVID-19 era. Hence, the overall theme of the 2021 ITU Innovation Challenges is Building vibrant digital innovation communities to unlock digital transformation potential for the new normal.

This year's challenges, therefore, highlight the significance of digital innovations and communities fuelling COVID-19 resilience. Each challenge category focuses on a specific community — from youth to entrepreneurial support groups — that is accelerating digital transformation during the pandemic, and future-proofing economies and societies.​

Milestones


​​​​Ke​y Dates​
​Activities​​
​​2 June​ 2021
​Launch of Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation an​d
Generation​ Connect Video Pitch Challenges 
​15 July 2021
​End of Glo​bal South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge 
31 July 2021
End of Gene​ration Connect Video Pitch Challenge
​​​16 ​August 2021
​Winner Announcement: Generation​ Connect Video Pitch Challenge 
12 September 2021 (To be confirmed) 
​Winner Announcement: Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge
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Challenge Scope

The following challenges will be​ launched in June, while additional challenges will be added at later stages.
  1. Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge (co-organized by the United Nations Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC)). This challenge seeks scalable innovative digital solutions that can: (i) enable countries, societies, communities, institutions and individuals from the Global South to deal with the cascading effects of the pandemic across governance, economy, social sectors and wellbeing; and (ii) contribute to the organizations' respective focus on South-South Cooperation and digital technologies​.
  2. Generation Connect Video Pitch Challenge (co-organized by ITU's Generation Connect programme)​. This challenge seeks promising and meaningful ideas to connect the unconnected to close the digital divide, highlighting the importance of youth involvement. ​

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge- only legally registered organizations/institutions from developing countries [1] are eligible to participate in this challenge. The challenge is open to governments, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, private sector and start-ups, research institutions, academia, and civil society organization (CSOs).
  2. Generation Connect Video Pitch Challenge- young ICT enthusiasts aged between 18 to 30 years are eligible to participate in this challenge. 
  3. Only one entry per challenge is permitted. Multiple entries from the same applicant for one challenge will be disqualified.

[1] These include the least developed countries, small island developing states, landlocked developing
countries, middle-income, low-income countries and countries with economies in transition.
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Note: ​Additional eligibility criteria may be applied for specific challenges. Consult the individual challenge briefs for details.

Evaluation Criteria


Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge
​The evaluation criteria below will be used by the selection committee for both the shortlisting of 20 to 25 best submissions, and the final selection of the winning submissions. Each criterion has been assigned a percentage weight for sc​​oring.​

Generation Connect Video Pitch Challenge​​
​The evaluation criteria below will be used for the selection of the winning proposals. Each criterion has been assigned a percentage weight for ​scoring.

Awards


Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge
The organizations/institutions whose submissions have been finally selected by the selection committee as the winning proposals will, through their appointed representatives: 

Generation Connect Video Pitch Challenge​​


Note: ​Additional terms and conditions may be applied for the above awards. Consult the individual challenge briefs for details.

Selection Committee


Global South COVID-19 Digital Innovation Challenge
A selection committee of experts from ITU, UNOSSC and supporting partners will be convened to shortlist the 20 to 25 best submissions, and the final selected proposals​​.

Generation Connect Video Pitch Challenge​​
​A selection committee of experts selected by ITU and supporting partners will be convened to select up to 10 winning submissions. The committee will be composed of at least 5 experts, including outside experts and with at least one member from the board of ITU Generation Connect. The committee's selections will be based on overall performance and the evaluation criteria during a live pitching event.