World Bank unveils Shs371 million innovation challenge

World Bank unveils Shs371 million innovation challenge

Mission Billion Challenge is about motivating innovators to develop solutions to improve the process of making IDs that are cost-effective and more sophisticated (Picture credit: Daniel Silva Yoshisato)

The World Bank Group through its arm, Identification for Development (ID4D) initiative, has rolled out a multimillion-dollar innovation challenge aimed at inspiring innovators across the globe to come up with solutions that will ease the process of making cost-effective and tech-enabled identification documents.

Dubbed the Mission Billion Challenge, the race, being held for the first time, will see innovators win cash prizes totaling US$100,000 (about Shs371 million).

The top prize in the challenge also seeking to enhance trust and protect personal data from being misused or compromised, will give the top winner a cash prize of US$50,000 (about Shs185 million).

According to the World Bank, around one billion people remain without sophisticated identification documents which excludes them from economic opportunities and a variety of social and political rights.

“Digital identification systems can play a transformational role across key areas such as financial inclusion, access to services and social safety nets, and effective humanitarian response. Yet this can also create important privacy challenges,” said Makhtar Diop, vice president for infrastructure at the World Bank.

“The Mission Billion Challenge offers an exciting opportunity to tap into the most creative minds to help us design digital identification systems to enhance data protection and empower people with greater control over their personal data.”

Sponsored by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Australian Government, and Omidyar Network, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, the challenge seeks new, practical ideas for ‘privacy by design’ features that can be embedded into digital identification systems to address the potential risks that arise from collecting, using and managing personal data such as data protection and cybersecurity challenges.

The inaugural Mission Billion Challenge is powered by the MIT Solve platform, an initiative of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, that uses open innovation and crowdsourcing to solve global challenges.

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Through this MIT Solve platform, innovators and organizations can submit a solution to the Mission Billion Challenge. Submissions will be evaluated by committees comprised of staff members of the World Bank and partner organizations.

The final evaluation panel will be composed of globally recognized experts in the field of digital identification systems.

“MIT’s mission inspires us to use our strengths in education, research and innovation to make a better world, and the World Bank Group’s Mission Billion Challenge represents an extraordinary opportunity for us to help advance work of significant global importance,” said MIT president, L. Rafael Reif.

“In designing the MIT Solve platform, we aimed to create a global community of problem solvers: creative minds focused together on tackling intractable challenges. So we are excited for the opportunity to work with the World Bank Group’s ID4D Initiative to focus that community on ways to provide people in poverty with sound, affordable identification – a basic tool for advancing themselves and participating in modern society.”

The deadline for submitting applications is February 24, the finalists will be announced on March 14 and the pitch event will be held in April in Washington DC.

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