Massachusetts Institute of Technology SOLVE in the USA invites applications from entrepreneurs worldwide for the Circular Economy Challenge in 2019.

Every year, the world creates more than 2 billion tons of solid waste—roughly five times the total weight of all people on the planet. The linear supply chains used to extract and process material into goods produce a significant amount of carbon emissions while exposing people and ecosystems to disruption and chemical risks, whether through mining, dyes, leaking landfills, or microplastics.


Linear models of designing and producing clothing, plastics, electronics, and other goods have been led by high-income countries: the supply chains for goods consumed by the richest 10 percent of the world’s population are associated with 50 percent of carbon emissions. Yet, the resulting climate change will drive more intense droughts, floods, and heatwaves everywhere, particularly in countries with the fewest resources to adapt. For everyone’s benefit, the world’s supply chains and the hundreds of millions of people employed by them need to shift towards a circular approach that targets zero waste and minimal impacts.

A smartphone designed for repair and recycling decreases mining for minerals in conflict-prone areas. Clothes made with renewable fabrics that can biodegrade will not require petroleum or landfill space. Shifting business models from frequent purchases to goods for local repair, rental, or reuse reduces the number of products that need to be manufactured or transported in the first place. Finally, choosing materials produced and recycled with zero-carbon energy lowers the carbon footprint for all products or later uses. Building a circular economy will require changes in product design and business approaches that have ripple effects throughout supply chains and economic systems.

Worth of Award

  • All solutions selected for Solve’s four current Global Challenges will receive a $10,000 grant funded by Solve.
  • In addition to Solve funding, Solver teams who also fulfil the criteria below are eligible for the following prizes and partnerships. You do not need to meet these requirements to apply to the Circular Economy Challenge:
  • AI Innovations Prize: Solutions that are propelled by advanced computing techniques or that leverage artificial intelligence to address the Challenge are eligible for the AI Innovations Prize.Up to $500,000 will be granted across several recipients selected for the prize.
  • GM Prize on Circular Economy: Solutions that help communities shift towards a more circular economy through zero waste and zero carbon, including through STEM education for new design and manufacturing techniques, are eligible for the GM Prize on Circular Economy, made possible by General Motors. Up to $50,000 will be granted to two Solver teams within the Circular Economy Challenge.
  • Innovation for Women Prize: Solutions that use innovative technology to improve the quality of life for women and girls are eligible for the Innovation for Women Prize. Up to $75,000 will be granted across up to three Solver teams selected to receive the prize.
  • Innospark Ventures Prize: The Innospark Ventures Prize is open to AI-based solutions from across the cybersecurity, education, healthcare, life sciences, and business services sectors focused in the United States. Up to $100,000 will be granted to up to four eligible Solver teams from across any of Solve’s current Global Challenges.
  • The Rockefeller Foundation will host representatives of up to four of the teams who are awarded an AI-focused prize (the AI Innovations Prize or the Innospark Ventures Prize) at its high-level summit on AI taking place at its Bellagio Center on Lake Como, Italy, in October 2019.


To shift towards circular supply chains where the goods we use are zero waste with minimal impacts, Solve is seeking solutions that enable:

  • Increased and equitable production of renewable and recyclable raw materials for products and packaging;
  • Design and production of mass-market clothing and apparel that are recycled and recyclable or biodegradable at end of life;
  • New business models that encourage extending the lifetime of products rather than frequent purchases; and
  • Recycling of complex products like electronics.


  • Alignment: The solution addresses the challenge that has been set forth using technology.
  • Potential for Impact: The planned implementation of the solution has the potential to impact lives.
  • Scalability: The solution can be grown and scaled to affect the lives of more people.
  • Feasibility: It is feasible to implement the solution, and the team has a plan for the solution to sustain itself financially.
  • Innovative Approach: This is a new technology, a new application of a technology, a new business model, or a new process for solving the challenge
  • Partnership Potential: The applicant clearly explains how the solution would benefit from the broad range of resources that the Solve community is positioned to provide.

How to Apply

You can submit your solution through the application link on their website

Deadline: deadline to apply is July 1, 2019.


Click here for more details and to apply

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