Dell Social Innovation Challenge

dellDeadline: 13 February, 2012

That’s what the Dell Social Innovation Challenge is all about. Since 2007, more than 15,000 students from 90 countries have proposed more than 3,000 ideas for tackling social and environmental problems. We give participants the mentoring, tools and cash prizes needed to take their projects to the next level. 


We’ve awarded more than $350,000 to teams from around the world who’ve had the courage, vision and passion to turn their “What Ifs” into action.

Our challenge is a project of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin. Dell is our title sponsor.


Any undergrad or graduate student in any field of study, from any country, can enter our challenge. This isn’t your traditional business plan competition – you can enter a project at any stage, whether you’ve just thought of an idea or are already running an organization. It doesn’t matter if your idea is nonprofit or for-profit. Great ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, so let’s hear yours!

Most projects are lead by teams of students. If you need more help, our full challenge website (launching January 3), will let you to connect with potential team members.


Our challenge site will be the world’s largest community of student social innovators. You’ll get access to the learning, support and feedback you need to hone your innovations. Stay tuned for more details, and get ready for a great adventure!

Global Award Rounds

Five Finalists will be flown to Austin for our Global Awards Event full of networking and mentoring. Plus, they’ll compete live in front of our judges for these Global Awards:

  • $50,000 Grand Prize
  • $20,000 Second Prize
  • $10,000 Third Prize

Two Expertise Award winners (selected by judges) will also attend our Global Awards Event:

  • $15,000 Tomberg Environmental Sustainability
  • $10,000 Dell Technology Innovation

200+ Semi-Finalists (selected by judges) will receive:

  • 1:1 Mentoring from DSIC-Certified Mentor to hone their plans
  • The opportunity to pitch & compete (via online video) for the Global Awards

People’s Choice Awards

17 People’s Choice Award Winners will be selected via online voting.

  • $1,000 Each
  • 11 Focus Awards
  • 6 Regional Awards


We offer four entry categories to reward and support innovations at all stages of development. You can submit as many project proposals as you’d like.

Define: Project exists mainly in your head or a few sketched ideas, with limited research at this point.

Design: Project captured in a written plan, with some more formal market research, the beginnings of formal internal and external teams and more detailed elements such as financial model, pricing, marketing, customer segmentation and risk assessment.

Pilot: Product/service has been tested with a small group of clients/customers. Team continues making revisions based on field knowledge.

Scale: Product/service has proven successful and is being deployed in more than one geographic area. Enterprise has strong and sustainable financial and human resources models, plus a strong board of directors and strategic partners.


We’re looking for social innovations. What’s a social innovation? It’s an idea that can significantly improve an existing social or environmental problem. We’re looking for ideas that can create results, but your passion and abilities are also as important as your proposal.

Our DSIC-Certified Judges will evaluate proposals using three primary criteria:

  1. 1.Clarity and significance of the innovation.
  2. 2.Demonstration of a high probability of success.
  3. 3.Potential impact from winning DSIC.


Entering is free and easy! You can enter as many projects as you’d like, in any category. Entry opens Jan. 3 when our full challenge site launches. Sign up now so you’re the first to know.


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