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Ideas Made to Matter

These 12 North American startups are improving lives through technology


A second chance for sex trafficking survivors, advocacy for Mexican migrants, affordable internet, financial security for the financially insecure.

The 12 North American finalists of the global MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge are “using technology to reinvent the future of work,” according to the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy.

The challenge is the flagship program of the initiative, and this year the initiative launched a worldwide competition divided into five regions: North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa, and Asia.

“If we employ inclusive innovation globally, it could be the best thing that ever happened to humanity,” Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the initiative, said in a statement. “We can have more wealth, better health, and widely held prosperity.”

The 2018 Inclusive Innovation Challenge has two rounds. The first round involves 12 selected startups across four categories competing at “celebration events” in their home continents. The four categories are skills development and opportunity matching, financial inclusion, income growth and job creation, and technology access. The competitors are judged on vision, impact, participation, and scalability.

The winner of each category then goes on to compete in November during the Global Grand Prize Gala at MIT. The gala includes four $250,000 prizes, one for each category.

The finalists are traveling to Detroit, Michigan, in late September, where they will pitch their ideas at a regional competition.

The North American finalists are:

Income growth and job creation


AnnieCannons helps survivors of sex trafficking learn marketable software skills.


Bak USA designs and builds computers in the United States.

ULTRA Testing

ULTRA Testing employs people with autism for software testing services.

Skills development and opportunity matching


CareAcademy provides online courses for caregivers.

Centro de los Derechos Del Migrante

Centro de los Derechos Del Migrante provides advocacy and training for Mexico-based migrant laborers coming to work in the America.


PAIRIN provides workforce training courses, with an emphasis on soft skills.

Technology access

Apps Without Code

Apps Without Code teaches entrepreneurs how to develop business applications without the need for code-writing skills.

Detroit Community Technology Project

The Detroit Community Technology Project builds wireless networks in low-resource areas of Detroit.


EveryoneOn is a nonprofit that works with internet service providers to offer affordable home internet packages to low-income households.

Financial inclusion

Fig Tech

Fig Tech partners with nonprofits to offer loans.


Forge offers a digital platform for a company to manage its work schedule.

The Financial Clinic

The Financial Clinic offers advice and strategies to poor people to build financial security.

For more info Meredith Somers News Writer (617) 715-4216