What is IDEAS?

“We see humanity’s pressing global challenges as invitations to action.” -- President Rafael Reif

IDEAS is an annual innovation and social entrepreneurship competition for MIT students and their collaborators. We enable students to apply their MIT education in real-world situations to tackle quality of life issues for people around the world. Winning teams receive up to $15,000 to launch their projects during a 15-month grant period.

How we help.

Throughout the academic year, we offer students and their potential collaborators opportunities to meet one another at various events and share their ideas and expertise. Teams take part in an initial proposal review process, which provides feedback, staff support, and potential mentor matching.

Final entries are judged in the spring on their innovation, feasibility, and community impact by a panel of experts who represent the range of subject matter included in the submitted proposals.

Why you should.

Students and communities alike benefit from the IDEAS program. Students gain skills in proposal writing, teamwork, prototype development, communication, fieldwork, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Teams often leverage their award to attract additional investments and build social enterprises that make lasting contributions to human well-being in the communities being served. Recent winners have (among other things):

  • Improved people's health and saved lives, through the development of equipment (like better wound care devices, all-terrain wheelchairs, or infant resuscitators), diagnostics (like better malaria detection), and practices (such as computerized medical records or apps).

  • Improved our planet, by developing sustainable farming practices using social enterprise models, reducing waste by converting trash into energy or useful items like 3D printer filament, or providing alternatives to motorization.

  • Improved people's access to critical resources, by improving educational opportunities, making alternative energy cheaper and more easily available in remote places, and connecting workers with jobs.

Read more about the competition cycle here.


About MIT IDEAS from MIT IDEAS on Vimeo.

Join us! Through MIT IDEAS you can: