Call for Proposals: Designing Solutions for Poverty Competition

“Through this competition, we want to expand and deepen the partnerships we have that can connect UCI’s expertise to those aspects of poverty for which there are engineering and IT solutions. This is part of our broader initiative to bring the vast stock of ingenuity, creativity, knowledge and passion that exists across the campus to bear on alleviating poverty at home and abroad.” -Richard Matthew, Professor and Director, Blum Center for Global Engagement, UCI

Designing Solutions for Poverty Competition, Spring 2015

RELEASE DATE: March 30, 2015

DEADLINE: May 15, 2015 at 11:59 pm Pacific Time


The Blum Center for Global Engagement invites UC Irvine undergraduate students, graduate students, postdocs, faculty, staff, and alumni to submit a proposal of a design or technology-based solution with the capacity to be applied to a real world, poverty-related problem in areas such as financial inclusion, energy, water, health, and services. Successful concepts will be technologically driven and will combine an architectural, engineering and/or IT approach with research and knowledge of poverty-alleviation, development, and the social sciences. Submissions from the Orange County community are also welcome.

Proposals should elaborate on an idea that is sustainable– a prototype is helpful, but not necessary.

Applicants from all disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to apply – applicants need not come from an engineering or IT background.

Deadline: 11:59 PM US Pacific Time on Extended – May 15, 2015

Click HERE to apply to Designing Solutions for Poverty.

AWARD: Applicants submitting the top three proposals will be invited to a private salon to present their concepts to experts and potential investors to be held Saturday, June 6, 2015. One winner will be selected at the salon and will receive an all-expense paid weekend at Pelican Hill for his or her self and up to 5 guests.

EVALUATION CRITERIA: Proposals received by the submission deadline will be pre-screened for eligibility by staff. A panel of faculty and experts will rank eligible applications. Proposals will be judged according to the following criteria:

  1. Impact of Concept: The proposal should articulate a concept with the potential to have a clear impact on a pressing poverty-related challenge. The proposed solution should be innovative and research-driven, closely connecting the technological idea with an economic or social obstacle.
  2. Feasibility of Idea: The specific obstacle to be addressed by the concept should be well defined. The idea and approach should be realistic, and the resources needed should be clearly outlined.
  3. Vision for Scale: The concept has the compelling long-term vision and the potential to advance a larger effort. The idea has potential for scalability and/or multiple avenues of application.

The concept narrative should not exceed 4,500 characters (approximately 750 words) and should include the following:

  • Poverty Challenge: What is the specific social or economic obstacle you seek to address? Who would benefit from the development of this concept?
  • Innovation Idea: Describe the technology solution that you propose to develop. Base your description on the following questions:
    • What do you foresee as the mechanism for implementing this idea (e.g. mobile application, device, diagnostic tool, etc.)?
    • To the best of your knowledge, do similar technologies already exist? Why do you think your innovation could be more promising (e.g. cost-effective, versatile) than existing alternatives?
  • Approach and Development Strategy: How does your approach translate into improved outcomes for the poor? Provide a rough outline of the resources needed to advance your idea from conception to prototype.

For examples of project ideas, please visit UC Berkeley’s Development Impact Lab. Each applicant can submit multiple proposals to this call. Any updates posted online will supersede previously circulated or posted materials.

Download this summary here.

Designing Solutions for Poverty Spring 2015_5