Last week, we posted an article that highlighted three government challenges - one city, one state and one federal.  This week, we're focusing on four more.

NSF Commuity College Innovation Challenge

To foster the development of crucial innovation skills, the National Science Foundation launched the Community College Innovation Challenge.

Community colleges prepare technicians who will become an integral part of research efforts and students who will continue their education at four-year institutions.  Community colleges have long recognized the importance of mentoring students and have a history of success in educating underrepresented students for successful careers in STEM.

The National Science Foundation's (NSF) thrust of incorporating research into the traditional teaching goals of the community college is a relatively new expansion of its mission. This challenge furthers NSF’s mission by enabling students to discover and demonstrate their capacity to use science to make a difference in the world, and to transfer knowledge into action.

This challenge asks teams of community college students, a faculty mentor, and a community or industry partner to propose innovative STEM-based solutions for real-world problems they identify within one of the following themes: Big Data, Infrastructure Security, Sustainability (including water, food, energy, environment), broadening participation in STEM and improving STEM Education.

Check out this video submission from one of this year's finalists:

Ten winning teams were invited to attend the Innovation Boot Camp, a professional development workshop on innovation and entrepreneurship. Each team received $500 to further refine their idea and exhibit at a reception on Capitol Hill. Travel, room, and board costs associated with attending the Innovation Boot Camp were also paid on behalf of the student and faculty mentor members of the team.

Look for the 2016 Community College Innovation Challenge to launch in mid-October.

United States Patent and Trademark Office

Launched in 2012, Patents for Humanity is a competition sponsored by the U.S. Department of Commerce's United States Patent and Trademark Office. It recognizes innovators who use game-changing technology to meet global humanitarian challenges.  The program provides business incentives for reaching those in need: winners receive an acceleration certificate to expedite select proceedings at the USPTO, as well as public recognition of their work.  The awards showcase how patent holders with vision are pioneering innovative ways to provide affordable, scalable, and sustainable solutions for the less fortunate.

Participating patent owners or licensees submit applications describing how they've used their patented technology or products to address humanitarian challenges for the less fortunate. Applications compete in five categories of global challenges:

  • Medicine - any medical-related technology such as medicines, vaccines, diagnostics, or medical devices
  • Nutrition - technologies which improve nutrition such as higher yield crops, more nutritious food sources, food preservation, storage, or preparation
  • Sanitation - improving lives by addressing environmental factors such as clean water, waste treatment, air pollution, and toxic substances
  • Household Energy - technologies providing power to energy-poor homes and communities for household needs like lighting, cooking, and heating
  • Living Standards - technologies that raise living standards to empower people to escape poverty, such as literacy, education, communications, information delivery, access to markets, and microfinance

The 2015 award ceremony was held at the White House.  You can watch the video below.

Moving beyond the United States here are two more examples of government supported competitions.

Best M Govt Award Trophy

The “Best m-Government Service Award” is an annual award that stems directly from the newly launched Smart Government vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai which aims to stimulate and encourage government entities to provide creative and innovative solutions via smart phone applications, mobile phones and smart wearables. It will also ensure access to government services around the clock that are easy, efficient and transparent to meet the public needs and exceed their expectations.

Solutions can be submitted in any of these ten categories:

  • Health
  • Education
  • Environment
  • Social Affairs
  • Safety & Security
  • Tourism
  • Economy and Commerce
  • Transportation and Infrastructure
  • One Stop App
  • Smart Wearable

The "Best m-Government Service Award” is open for United Arab Emirates Federal government Entities and local government entities in addition to governments from the Arab region and the World. The award also targets United Arab Emirates university students.

You can see a listing of the 2015 winners here.


The citizens of Canada are changing health and healthcare in their country through the ImagineNation Challenges.  Managed by Canada Health Infoway, the goal of these challenges is to improve the quality of care and the patient experience.  In 2011, the Ideas Challenge was launched, asking the public to submit bold new ideas to transform healthcare – how would they enhance access to services, improve quality of care delivery or make the system more efficient?  Over a thousand clinicians, health professionals, academics and Canadians submitted ideas or cast their votes to select their favorite entries.  Judges recognized 50 of the top ideas.

With the success of the Ideas Challenge, Infoway quickly followed up with the Outcomes Challenge, tasking health care professionals to accelerate the use and growth of digital health solutions in their practices or organizations in four categories: e-Scheduling, Patient Access to information, Clinical Synoptic Reporting and Medical Reconciliation.  Participating groups saw an incredible 95% increase in users amounting to over 3 million uses of these solutions.

Since the Outcomes Challenge, Infoway has launched 7 additional competitions.

Perhaps one of the most impressive results came from the e-Connect Impact Challenge, where Canadians and healthcare providers connected digitally over 71 million times in a 15 month period.  Top teams were rewarded with $500,000 in prizes.

The examples in these two posts are just drops in the bucket of all of the competitions, challenges and contests that government entities all over the world are sponsoring to effect change for cities, states, provinces and even entire countries.

We very proud to say, all of the examples in this post and the the previous post are challenges powered by Skild.

Expect to see new competition launches later this year, and early next year for the National Science Foundation's Community College Impact Challenge, USPTO's Patents for Humanity, Best m-Government Service Award and Canada Health Infoway's latest event.

Share this article