MIT Sloan Launches Inclusive Innovation Competition to Improve Economic Opportunity for All Workers

inclusive innovation

This post has been republished in its entirety from original source

As tempting as it may be to believe that a rising tide of technological innovation will lift all boats, too often low and middle income workers are left behind—or even harmed by advances that otherwise benefit business, economy and society. To meet the challenge of “inclusive innovation”—innovation that improves economic opportunity for allMIT Sloan School of Management earlier this month launched a new competition designed to crowd source entrepreneurial and innovative energy toward this end.

The MIT Inclusive Innovation Competition (IIC), funded by the Rockefeller and Joyce Foundations, was announced on October 7th as part of the launch of Solve, a new cross-disciplinary program at MIT to address the greatest challenges facing the world today. IIC is a joint effort of MIT’s Initiative on the Digital Economy (IDE) and the MIT Innovation Initiative (MITii).

“The goal of the competition is to draw both attention and innovative activity to an important task—understanding and improving the economic opportunity for all workers, but particularly for low and middle income workers,” MIT Sloan Professor and IDE Director Erik Brynjolfsson said in a statement.

In recent years, low and middle income workers have faced stagnant incomes, decreased upward mobility and greater financial strain, Brynjolfsson explains. “The IIC will raise awareness about and celebrate something very different: those who are using the modern toolkit of innovation—networks, platforms, devices, data, apps, analytics and so on—to be part of the solution for all workers as they seek to improve their economic lives.”

Using a crowd-sourced approach, the new annual competition will invite participants to explore innovative ways to harness technology as a job creator—rather than allowing technological advances to destroy jobs through the automation of lower-skilled work and the reduction of worker power.

“For all of technology’s benefits to the economy and consumers, its advance might worsen job prospects for the disadvantaged,” Matthew Muench, program officer at the Joyce Foundation, said in a statement. “On the other hand, technology and entrepreneurship may also be able to provide solutions to our national challenge of upgrading workers’ knowledge and skills,” he said. “We think it is imperative to try.”

The ICC will open for nominations in January 2016, and monetary prizes will be awarded in at least four categories: skills development, income enablement and wage equality, augmented labor and public-sector programs. A panel of judges drawn from industry, academia, private foundations and public policy will select semi-finalists in May 2016, and grand prizes will be awarded a year from now, in October 2016.

“Building a more inclusive innovation economy is a central challenge of our times,” Catherine Fazio, managing director of the MIT Innovation Initiative’s Laboratory for Innovation Science and Policy, said in a statement. “This prize opens the prospect of finding novel solutions that better balance the oft-competing dynamics of innovation, growth and inclusion.”

Learn more about MIT’s New Inclusive Innovation Competition.



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