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1. Why the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge (Fowler GSIC)?

People around the world increasingly view themselves as global citizens and favor companies that are socially and ecologically conscious. As the world becomes more interconnected, it is vital to bring these conscious citizens of the world together to solve the most pressing and chronic problems faced by communities around the world. The Fowler GSIC is designed to be such a platform through which we can inspire, learn from, and join forces with one another to help make this world a better place. Participation in the Fowler GSIC gives the students a hands-on opportunity to closely examine a global societal or environmental issue that impacts the lives of many, and think about the ways in which private, public and social sectors can collectively implement a solution that is impactful, sustainable, and scalable around the world. Along the way, students acquire necessary tools, receive mentoring, and possibly funding, to help them implement their social venture.

Ultimately, the Fowler GSIC serves the society by equipping tomorrow’s citizens with the awareness, empathy, and understanding of sustainable development challenges, and by enabling them with the necessary knowledge and skills to develop practical yet impactful solutions that can positively shift the behavior of complex societal systems. Even if the participants do not implement their proposed social venture after taking part in the challenge, the learning experience makes them a much more socially and environmentally conscious decision maker regardless of the sector they end up working in after their graduation.

2. How does the Fowler GSIC Team define Social Innovation?

Social Innovation comprises of a novel solution to a social/environmental problem that is more effective, efficient, sustainable, or just than existing solutions and for which the value created accrues primarily to society as a whole rather than private individuals.1

Social Innovation can take many shapes while creating a positive impact on the 5 Ps– Planet, People, Prosperity, Peace, and Partnership.

See some of the ways social innovators are changing work in the 21st century.

1 PHILLS JR, J. A., DEIGLMEIER, K. & MILLER, D. T. 2008. Rediscovering Social Innovation. Stanford Social Innovation Review, 6, 34-43.

3. What are the requirements for students’ topic selection?

Students get to choose an issue to address but are asked to align their efforts to one (or more) of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the UN.

4. What are the prizes?

Seed funding totaling $60,000+ and a host of in-kind prizes will be awarded following the Fowler GSIC final in June 2023 at the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. In addition, your institution may offer its own set of prizes and other resources to participants/ semi-finalists/finalists.

5. Who is eligible to participate?

The Fowler GSIC is open to all degree and diploma-granting postsecondary education institutions such as universities/colleges located anywhere in the world that register for Fowler GSIC participation by November 30, 2022.

Any current student (as of December 2022) of a participating institution can participate in the Fowler GSIC individually or as part of a team (with a maximum of five members per team). At least one team member must be a current undergraduate / postgraduate/ doctoral student as of at any of the participating institutions. The rest of the team members can be from any walk of life (i.e. belong to the same institute OR another participating institute or another non-participating institute, or not be a student at all)!

In the case of proposals from an existing nonprofit or for-profit organization, at least one student team member must be a C-level officer or a director of the organization (e.g., Executive Director, CEO, COO, etc.) or a  majority owner of the business.

Each participating institution may also have additional eligibility criteria, so please get in touch with the Fowler GSIC representative at your institute who can advise you further.

6. What are the team size requirements?

  • Minimum team size is 1 (i.e. a student can participate as an individual).

  • Maximum team size is 5.

  • If a venture team has more than five members, the team will need to select a subset of up to five members that can represent the rest of the team in the GSIC, and obtain a written consent before the deadline for round 1 submission from those venture team members that are excluded from the Fowler GSIC team.


7. How about teams made up of members from multiple participating institutions?

Teams made up of members from multiple participating institutions are absolutely welcome!

Each participating institution gets to nominate up to two teams to the Global Finals. Therefore, if a team has members from more than one participating institution, the team must secure the nomination from one of these institutions for the Global Finals. In addition, one of the team members must be a current student (as of December 2022) of the nominating institution.

8. Do I get to choose an issue to address or do I have to select from a predefined list of issues?

You get to choose an issue to address. You will be asked to align your efforts to one (or more) of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the UN.

9. What is an appropriate scope for my topic?

Start by identifying WHAT (i.e. a problem or an issue you want to solve) and then define WHO (i.e. the target population you aim to help in solving this problem) or start with WHO and then define WHAT. Look at the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) put forward by the UN if you want additional inspiration. Now, decide on how narrow or wide the geographic focus you want to have for your proposed innovation. You are free to focus at a local, regional, national, or even international level. However, when you move from defining the problem to identifying potential solutions, it generally helps to narrow down the geographic focus further.


  • Showcasing a clear and nuanced understanding of the current problem and solution landscapes will give you the best chance to advance from Round 1 to Round 2/your Campus Finals.

  • Formulating a potential solution that passes through the considerations of measurable impact, feasibility, acceptability/desirability, sustainability, vulnerability, and scalability/replicability will give you the best chance to advance from Round 2 to the Global Finals.

  • A compelling implementation plan and team commitment to take the venture forward will tremendously improve your chances of winning seed funding in the Global Finals.


10. I am not a student at one of the participating institutions. Can I still participate?

Yes, you can explore the following two possibilities:

  • Ask your institution to register for the Fowler GSIC and/or send us an email at about your interest so we can follow up with your institution.

  • Alternatively, you may be able to join an existing team at one of the participating institutes. Please contact the Fowler GSIC champion at any of the participating institutes to see if there are opportunities to join an existing team.

11. Can I participate in multiple teams?

Yes, we allow participation of a single individual in multiple teams provided your institute is ok with that.

However, we know from experience that the winning teams put a significant amount of effort into their submissions. This puts any team with members who straddle multiple teams (and therefore, multiple venture proposals) at a significant disadvantage. Therefore, we highly recommend (but DO NOT require) that you focus only on one topic to maximize the chance of winning seed funding at the global final in San Diego.

12. Does the participation in the Fowler GSIC count for university credit?

Not automatically! We do not require participating institutes to count participation in Fowler GSIC towards any college/university credit. However, participating institutes are free to consider this option. Please speak with the Fowler GSIC champion at your institution to find out!

13. Can I reuse work I have already submitted for a course or work that I have presented/published elsewhere, or work that I have done/am doing jointly with others who are not on my Fowler GSIC team?

You are welcome to reuse and build upon any of your own previous work. We ask that you cite all the sources that you use, including your own.

If the work that you plan to reuse has contributors that are not on your Fowler GSIC team for any reason, you must obtain separate written consent from each of those individuals. This consent must be dated before February 2023, and must clearly specify that individual’s expectations around acknowledgment/attribution.

14. How do I cite my sources of information? Can I use external media and graphics from other reports or sources?

You can follow any of the established and well-known styles (such as APA, MLA 7, MLA 8, Chicago, Harvard etc.). Just be consistent across all your documents across all rounds of submissions.

Yes, you can use external media and graphics, provided you correctly and adequately cite the source.

15. Will my submission be made public?

One of the primary goals of the Fowler GSIC is to facilitate learning for everyone and to contribute towards achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals proposed by the UN.

To help further these goals, we will publish the submissions of the finalists on our website. We may also publish the Round 1 / Round 2 / Global Finals submissions of any of the teams who submit high-quality work.

16. What are the terms and conditions I need to agree to before submitting my entry?

The authors of each submitted venture proposal will retain ownership of their entries. However, by entering the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge, you grant the Fowler GSIC Team and its respective employees, agents, and assigns a perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free, non-exclusive, and unconditional license to record, edit, modify, reproduce, copy, transmit, livestream, telecast, publish, post, broadcast, display, adapt and/or use or reuse your submitted venture proposal, your pitch, and any materials submitted or prepared for use in the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge, your name, image, voice, likeness, statements, background and biographical information in any and all media (including but not limited to print, electronic, video, digital, radio, television, internet, etc.) for publicity, promotion, advertising, fundraising, administrative, academic or educational purposes. To the extent any monies are earned as a result of the license granted, the monies shall be used to defray the costs of future Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge competitions or other such initiatives undertaken by the Fowler GSIC Team.

By entering the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge, you acknowledge and certify that you own all of the content included in your submitted plan or otherwise have obtained any required permissions to use such content, and that your submitted venture proposal does not include any content (e.g. trademarks, company names, photos, music, works of art, or images) that infringes or violates the rights of any third party.

Entrants should not have an expectation of confidentiality with respect to any data or information submitted, discussed, or presented in connection with the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge. Due to the nature of the competition, judges, reviewers, staff, the audience or others will not be asked or required to agree to a non-disclosure agreement in connection with any venture proposals submitted in connection with the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge.

You authorize the Fowler GSIC Team and those acting pursuant to its authority to record, broadcast and distribute via any means (e.g. print, radio, television, internet, photograph, video, audio, digital, or otherwise) your plan and your participation in the Fowler Global Social Innovation challenge, and to use your name, photograph or likeness, as well as your testimonials, quotes, comments, or biography for publicity, promotion, advertising, fundraising, administrative, academic or educational purposes. Any such recordings or broadcasts shall be the property of the Fowler GSIC Team.

You release the University, sponsors, and those acting pursuant to their authority from liability from any and all claims arising out of or relating in any way to your participation the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge.

Right to Disqualify

The Fowler GSIC Team reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any entry it determines to be ineligible or that does not comply with these terms and conditions. A venture proposal entry that is not submitted through the designated online platform and/or does not include all of the required components and/or is not received by the Fowler GSIC Team by the applicable deadline and/or is not viewable online for any reason will be rejected automatically and will not be considered for advancement/prizes.

Award Distribution

Prizes may be awarded directly to the student who submitted the application, to a business organization created as a result of the student project, or to a business organization led by a current eligible student who participates in the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge (provided that the student is an officer or director of the organization and, in the case of a for profit organization, is a majority owner, or is part of a team of eligible students who collectively are the majority owners).

The Fowler GSIC Team reserves the right in its sole discretion to distribute the prize money as a lump-sum or in tranches, and may require the winning teams to meet specific milestones within pre specified time limits and provide periodic progress reports as qualifying conditions for disbursing the initial or the subsequent tranches of the prize money.

Seed funding awarded as Fowler GSIC prizes may be subject to taxation (including tax withholding at source) by US and the destination country for the funds. It will be the responsibility of the winning team to provide necessary information to the Fowler GSIC Team as requested to determine such liability, and comply with the relevant tax laws. If the destination country or the individuals or entities concerned for the prize money are on the OFAC list, the Fowler GSIC Team may need to withhold or cancel the prize award to comply with the US government regulations. It will be the responsibility of each team participating in the Fowler GSIC to check this list before deciding to participate in the challenge. The Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the US Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on US foreign policy and national security goals against targeted foreign countries and regimes, terrorists, international narcotics traffickers, those engaged in activities related to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and other threats to the national security, foreign policy or economy of the United States.


Award Obligation


Monetary Prizes are designated as “Seed Funding” for the concerned venture proposal, and must be spent in direct support of the project and adhere as closely as possible to the final written plan. Students must submit monthly / quarterly progress reports to the Fowler GSIC Team for a period of six / nine / twelve months following the receipt of an award.

17. How do I enter the Fowler GSIC?

If your college/university is already listed as a participating institution for this year’s Fowler GSIC, please get in touch with the Fowler GSIC champion at your university.

If not, please write to us at to express your interest in the Fowler GSIC, and we will follow up with your institution to facilitate their Fowler GSIC registration.

Still have unanswered questions or concerns?

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