New groundbreaking MIT IDE Inclusive Innovation Competition to award a total of $1 million to organizations creating economic opportunity in the digital era


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 7, 2016––The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) today announced the launch of the first annual Inclusive Innovation Competition (IIC). Developed in collaboration with the MIT Innovation Initiative (MITii), the competition will award prizes to organizations that are inventing a more sustainable, productive, and inclusive future for all by focusing on improving economic opportunity for middle- and base-level income earners.

The IIC seeks solutions-focused applicant organizations that have harnessed the modern toolkit of technology and developed breakthrough approaches that raise economic prospects for workers around the world. Both for-profit and non-profit organizations of any size, age or type, and from any nation are encouraged to apply.

The competition is being funded with support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, the NASDAQ foundation, and Eric and Wendy Schmidt. A total of one million dollars will be awarded to organizations that compete in the following four categories:

  1. Skills: How do we re-skill members of our workforce to prepare them for opportunities of the future?
  2. Matching: How do we connect qualified individuals with open opportunities for work? How do we better match labor supply with demand?
  3. Humans + Machines: How do we use technology to augment human labor so that the outcome is greater than either human or machine could achieve alone?
  4. New Models: How do new operational practices and business models revolutionize the existing labor market and thus create new economic opportunities?

Four grand prize champions, one in each of the four categories, will be selected to receive $125,000 awards. Sixteen competition winners will also be selected, four in each category, to receive $25,000 awards.

In addition to the grand prize champions and competition winners, IIC judges will select a handful of uniquely inventive organizations to receive “Judges’ Choice” awards. Two pools of judges will rate and select winners from the applying organizations:

  • A panel of approximately 30 Core Judges will review the organizations’ applications and will winnow down the field to 25-35 finalists
  • A smaller Champion Committee comprised of the IDE Advisory Board and other industry experts will review the 25-35 finalists and select the four grand prize champions, 16 competition winners, and “Judges’ Choice” award recipients

Participating Core Judges will include Naveen Agarwal (SVP & Chief Customer Officer, Prudential Financial), Bob Alig (EVP, GMAC), Bill Aulet (Executive Director, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship), Andrew Dunckelman (Portfolio Manager,, John Irons (Managing Director, Global Markets, Rockefeller Foundation), Donna Levin (EIR, Martin Trust Center for MIT Entrepreneurship; Co-Founder,, Conor McKay (Director, The Aspen Institute's Future of Work Initiative), Matt Muench (Senior Program Officer, Education & Employment, The Joyce Foundation), Brad Peterson (EVP & CIO, NASDAQ), Nasir Qadree (Head of Education, Village Capital), Carmen Rojas (CEO, The Workers Lab), and Zeynep Ton (MIT Sloan).

Participating Champion Committee members include Ellen Alberding (President, The Joyce Foundation), Brad Feld (Co-founder, Foundry Group). Mitch Kapor (Founder & Partner, Kapor Capital), Fiona Murray (Co-Director, MIT Innovation Initiative), and Tim O’Reilly (CEO & Founder, O'Reilly Media Group).

Applicants must register by June 1, 2016 and submit applications by June 15, 2016 when the competition closes. Winners will be selected on September 6, 2016 and announced in partnership with MIT SOLVE ( during Boston’s HUBweek ( at the end of September.

An IIC showcase featuring organizations representative of competition applicants will be hosted at the IDE On-Demand Economy Conference ( on March 15, 2016.

Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the IDE, says, “The IIC will recognize digital innovations that create shared prosperity. We want to motivate people to be creative about how to lift the economic prospects of the base of the workforce by leveraging their talents and skills.”

Matthew Muench, senior program officer at the Joyce Foundation says, “For all of the advances we have experienced in recent decades, so many Americans today struggle to secure consistent, well-paid work, or live in a state of anxiety that a single health or work crisis could send the family into a tailspin.” Speaking of the new technologies and new business models that shape economic opportunities, he noted that “these are not forces acting upon us; it is up to us to determine whether they help or harm struggling individuals—or are a distracting irrelevance. And too rarely have they helped.”

"MITii is excited to collaborate with the IDE on the inaugural Inclusive Innovation Competition,” says Fiona Murray, Co-Director of the MIT Innovation Initiative (MITii). “MITii is focused on strengthening pathways for all MIT students and our broader global community to move ideas that impact the world, not only through technological innovation but also via skill development and organizational design. The IIC prizes will catalyze action around these important topics and celebrate pioneers who are making tremendous, as well as inclusive, progress."

For more information on the IIC competition, please visit

The MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) explores how people and businesses will work, interact, and prosper in an era of profound digital transformation. Working alone and with public and private sector partners, the IDE supports and conducts groundbreaking research in the areas of productivity and employment, big data, new digital business models, and social analytics. The IDE sponsors fellowships; hosts competitions, conferences, and roundtables; and supports other events that inspire new ideas. The IDE believes that challenges posed by the digital economy not only are solvable, but that technology will create new opportunities for people and businesses to thrive. For more information, visit

The MIT Innovation Initiative (MITii) is an Institute-wide agenda to educate the next generation of global innovators, preparing them to move ideas to impact more effectively throughout their lives by combining hands-on “innovation practice” opportunities for building expertise in the innovation process with evidence-based insights developed from innovation science research. The MITii Laboratory for Innovation Science and Policy connects faculty and students from all five MIT schools to systematically study the innovation process and the factors that drive its outcomes. Initial themes of the Lab focus on innovation metrics, including the development of new measures of entrepreneurial quality and innovation ecosystems, and the central challenges inherent in building a more inclusive innovation economy. For more information, visit

The MIT Sloan School of Management is where smart, independent leaders come together to solve problems, create new organizations, and improve the world. Learn more at

Related Articles