Opening plenary of Solve discusses “Tech for Equality”

Solve announces innovation fund launch

Several speakers, including President L. Rafael Reif, discussed “Tech for Equality” at the opening plenary of Solve at MIT Tuesday. At the plenary, Alex Amouyel, the executive director of Solve, announced the launch of the Solve Innovation Fund.

Solve issues four Global Challenges each year for Solver teams to develop solutions. The challenges for 2019 are Circular Economy, Community-Driven Innovation, Early Childhood Development, and Healthy Cities. Solve then selects the most promising teams and scales their solutions.

The Solve Innovation Fund will raise over $30 million from tax-deductible gifts to make debt and equity investments in for-profit Solver teams. All returns will be reinvested into future Solver teams, according to a statement from MIT Solve.

Reif spoke about Solve as emblematic of MIT’s campus culture of “problem solving” and “serving society.” He also emphasized the importance of a diverse team for tackling major global problems.

Noubar Afeyan PhD ’87, founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering, MIT Corporation member, and founding anchor of the Fund, spoke about his role and encouraged the Solvers to persist with “unreasonable ideas.”

Other speakers at the opening plenary included leaders from international organizations and corporations.

Musician, public speaker, and community organizer Lyla June spoke about the importance of including indigenous voices and performed her song “All Nations Rise,” to a standing ovation.

Stephanie Mehta, editor in chief of Fast Company, moderated a forum between Joichi “Joi” Ito, director of the MIT media lab; Alaa Murabit, UN high level commissioner of health, employment, and economic growth; and Mark Reuss, president of General Motors. They discussed General Motors’s role in tackling inequality, ethical problems in the use of predictive algorithms, and inclusion of communities in conversations about developing solutions for their problems.

Mehta also moderated a forum between Luis Alberto Moreno, president of the Inter-American Development Bank; Precious Moloi-Motsepe, deputy chairperson and CEO of the Motsepe Foundation; and Fohla Mouftaou, manager of Green Keeper Africa. They discussed their visions for West and South Africa, methods for scaling solutions, and the role of technology in enhancing the workforce.

Solve at MIT events end May 9. Teams can submit their solutions until July 1.