How to apply for a challenge

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How to apply for a challenge

Challenge Centre is a marketplace where open innovations happen.

Challenge Center is a part of a big and friendly family of innovative hubs which all together form a Network of Smart Caffes in online space and physical spaces created within 3 Higher Education Institutions in Armenia, 2 Higher Education Institutions in Belarus, 6 Higher Education Institutions in Moldova and 2 Higher Education Institutions in Georgia. Joining us and get excellent opportunities to be connected with experts across different sectors (academic, industry and non-governmental).

Companies launch their challenges and receive a valuable feedback from students or start-ups, the creative students or start-ups submit their solutions and receive the prize in case they fit best to the requirements announced by the companies.

Creative students or start-ups can come up with the solutions on different subjects and be involved in multiple challenges, for example on operational efficiency, production costs, creation of new products, innovations and/or strategic collaborations.

Any company can became a partner of the Network of Smart Caffe, submit a challenge and receive a solution. Similarly, any creative student or start-up enrolled on-line or off-line in one of the Smart Caffe within the Network of Smart Caffes can submit a solution and win the prize. Eligibility criteria both for challenges and the solutions are given below.

The Network of Smart Caffe is operating as open network of innovation hubs linking SMART project universities’ academic communities with potential innovation recipients from the business and non-governmental sectors, which have the capacity and are open and mature to accept and rely on knowledge and innovation generated beyond their entity’s boundaries.

Not sure how to apply? See below some helpful tips and tutorials to get started. You can also get enrolled in the Competitive Intelligence Programme of the Network of Smart Caffe, including business development and digital skills to learn how to articulate your impact goals, theory and practice, and plans to scale.

How does Challenge Centre work?

  • Companies launch their challenges and receive a valuable feedback from students or start-ups, in turn creative students or start-ups submit their solutions to open innovation Challenges hosted on cmartchannel.org platform and receive the prize in case they fit best to the requirements announced by the companies.

    Creative students or start-ups can came up with the solutions on different subjects and be involved in multiple challenges, for example on operational efficiency, production costs, creation of new products, innovations and/or strategic collaborations.

    Any company can became a partner of the Network of Smart Caffe, submit a challenge and receive a solution. Similarly, any creative student or start-up enrolled on-line or off-line in one of the Smart Caffe within the Network of Smart Caffe can submit a solution and win the prize. Eligibility criteria both for challenges and the solutions are given below.

    The Network of Smart Caffe is operating as open network of innovation hubs linking SMART project universities’ academic communities with potential innovation recipients from the business and non-governmental sectors, which have the capacity and are open and mature to accept and rely on knowledge and innovation generated beyond their entity’s boundaries.

    Users may also comment and vote on published solutions, which are visible on Challenge Centre. All judging is completed inside the platform, with solutions assigned to specific judges to review and evaluate.

  • Our judges are experts and leaders across academic environment, industry and non-governmental sectors. Non-governmental organization “Association for Supporting Innovations and Sustainable Development “Impuls” and other members of the community of projects co-funded by the EU nr.585620 and nr. 617393 will conduct an initial review to select semi-finalists, then Challenge Leadership Groups will review semi-finalist solutions and select finalists. Judges will score solutions along the following criteria:

    • Alignment: The solution matches the requirements specified by the company and uses technology or methodology to address this specific challenge. Is the solution relevant to the company’s profile and to its wider business and economic context?
    • Potential for Impact: The planned solution implementation has the potential to impact the company and attend the general objective. Does the proposed solution bring innovation and value to the company? Is the company capable to implement the proposed solution?
    • Feasibility: Solution implementation is feasible, and the team has a plan for financial sustainability. Are the company and/or the market ready for this type of solution? Does the proposed solution seem sustainable?
    • Innovative Approach: The solution includes a new technology, methodology a new application of technology, a new business model, or a new process for solving the Challenge. Does it challenge a status quo in a new way?
    • Technical Feasibility*: In case of new technology, if it underlying the solution already exists, it has been proven to work in other contexts, and is being appropriately applied to the solution; or, if the underlying technology is novel, the applicant has provided convincing evidence of its potential function.
    • Creativity*: Is the proposed solution unique and novel? Is it different from what is already being implemented or is in place?

    *This criterion will not be considered during the initial review to select semi-finalists.

    Finalists will pitch before the Challenge Leadership Group. The most promising finalist solutions will form the Challenge Centre class and build partnerships with its community across different countries and nations.

    In case of any questions, please email us at [email protected] We are looking forward to receiving your application!

How to Apply if you are a creative Student or Start-up?

    • Step 1: Log in or create an account on smartchannel.org
    • Step 2: Answer the required questions to submit a challenge. Required fields are given in red color on “Your Profile”, “Edit your Challenge” and “Solution Overview” pages. We highly recommend that you answer as many questions as possible—this will help the judges better understand your solution. We encourage all applicants to apply and test their innovative ideas. Please note that for Challenge Centre, your application must be completed in English. However, submissions in other languages are acceptable if it has been specified in the specific eligibility requirements.
    • You must click the Continue button or Save Draft & Exit button at the top or bottom of the screen to save your work— the page will not automatically save your content.
    • Please pay attention to character and word limit requirements given in red as you are typing your answers to the questions. You will be able to save your responses even if you exceed the character or word limits, but when submitting your solution, you will receive an error message requesting you to shorten your responses.
    • Please note that for security reasons, your session will automatically time out after 2 hours of inactivity. A message on the screen will appear after 90 minutes as a notification. If you have your application open in a tab but are not editing it, you may miss this message. Please note that you must save your content several times during each session to avoid losing your work due to a session timeout.
    • Step 3: Submit your challenge indicating the evaluation criteria and the deadline for your Challenge. You must click the “Launch a Challenge” button in your user dashboard for your solution to be considered for the Challenge. This button will become active once all of the required questions have been answered; when completed, the button will turn yellow allowing you to click on it to submit your solution. Until then, it will appear gray.

    Important: You must click the “Launch a Challenge” button in your user dashboard to submit your challenge for review to be presented in the Challenge Centre.

    After clicking Submit Solution, your solution will be made publicly accessible on the smartchannel.org platform, and you will begin to receive comments and feedback from the community enrolled in our Network of Smart Caffe. We encourage you to submit your solution as soon as you can—and keep logging in to the page to the review the comments and to continue editing your solution. (Even after submitting your solution, you may still edit it before the deadline for your Challenge.)

    If you do not wish to Submit your solution straight away, you must click Continue or Save Draft & Exit once you have provided responses to the required questions.

  • Adding Team Members to your solution allows multiple users to edit the application and provide responses. To add Team Members, open your Dashboard and click “Edit Your Solution” for the solution you wish to add team members to. Then, scroll down to the bottom of this page and click on the “Add a team member” button.

    If a Team Member already has a user account, search for them here and send them an invitation to join your team. If they do not have an account, type in their email address and send them an invitation to create an account and join your solution as a Team Member.

    Once you have added your Team Members, choose your Team Lead. The Team Lead is the only user who has permissions to add or remove users from the application. The Team Lead will be the person invited to pitch the solution and, if selected as a Solver for our Hackathon for Open Innovations within the Network of Smart Caffe, will be the lead participant there.

    If you have not submitted a solution before the deadline set for your Challenge, your application will not be considered for review. So submit your solution today! If you are selected as a finalist for the Challenge Centre, you will be invited to pitch in front of judges at a Hackathon for Open Innovations within the Network of Smart Caffe.

  • The following eligibility criteria will apply to potential participants of the Challenge Centre:

    • The Challenge Centre is open to both individuals and teams consisting of up to 5 members.
    • Only individual participants or innovation teams with at least 1 member who are registered in one of the Network of SMART Caffe users and who have submitted its duly filled solution description up to the deadline mentioned by the company will be eligible to be selected as winners thus gaining the prize or/ and admitted to participate in the Annual Online Hackathon organized by the Network of Smart Caffe.
    • Participation of start-ups, young entrepreneurs and students of universities outside the SMART project consortium is welcomed for the purposes of peer learning and networking. External participants in the Smart Online Hackathon will be awarded a certificate of accomplishment and cannot receive any financial support or prize.
  • It is possible for an individual or start-up to apply to multiple Challenges. However, you will only be allowed to pitch one solution to the judges if you advance. You should apply to the Challenge that most aligns with your solution for the best chance of advancing.

  • It is possible for an individual or start-up to submit more than one solution, but you would have to create another user account to submit another solution to the same Challenge. In addition, you will only be allowed to pitch one solution to the judges if you advance. The judges will select the solutions that are most aligned with the criteria and dimensions of the Global Challenge.

How to Apply if you are a Company?

    • Step 1: Log in or create an account at smartchannel.org
    • Step 2: Answer the required questions to submit a challenge. Requrired fields are given in the red color on the “Your Profile” and “Launch your challenge” pages. We highly recommend that you answer as many questions as possible—this helps us better understand your challenge and evaluate to then post it on the “smartchannel” platform.

    We encourage all applicants to apply and receive valuable feedback from talented students or start-up companies.

    Please note that for Challenge Centre, your application must be completed in English. Challenges submitted in other languages are acceptable if it has been specified in the specific eligibility requirements.

    • You must click the Continue button or Save Draft & Exit button at the top or bottom of the screen to save your work— the page will not automatically save your content.
    • Please pay attention to character and word limit requirements given in red as you are typing your answers to the questions. You will be able to save your responses even if you exceed the character or word limits, but when submitting your solution, you will receive an error message requesting you to shorten your responses.
    • Please note that for security reasons, your session will automatically time out after 2 hours of inactivity. A message on the screen will appear after 90 minutes as a notification. If you have your application open in a tab but are not editing it, you may miss this message. Please note that you must save your content several times during each session to avoid losing your work due to a session timeout.
    • Step 3: Submit your challenge indicating the evaluation criteria and the deadline for your Challenge. You must click the “Launch a Challenge” button in your user dashboard for your solution to be considered for the Challenge. This button will become active once all of the required questions have been answered; when completed, the button will turn yellow allowing you to click on it to submit your solution. Until then, it will appear gray.
    • Step 4: Once you have filled in the requested information on your account, your application will be pre-tested by the Steering Committee of the smartchannel.org website. In case of a negative evaluation, you will receive an email explaining the term and conditions for the improvement of your application. If the evaluation of your submission is positive, your challenge will be uploaded on the smartchannel platform on the “Explore our Challenges” page and will be publicly accessible. You will begin to receive the comments from other users, administrator of the smartchannel.org will also receive it at the same time.

    Important: You must click the “Launch a Challenge” button in your user dashboard to submit your challenge for review to be presented in the Challenge Centre.

  • The following selection criteria will apply to potential Challenge Center participants:

    • The Challenge Center is open to companies with different experience, areas of interest and any type (for example: large, medium, small, micro), which are officially registered in any country in the world and can provide a confirmation document of their registration and sustainability (in the case of a significant prize).
  • Challenge Centre is searching for creative, innovative, braking, human-centered, tech-based solutions to Challenges posted by the companies.

    Through open innovation, Challenge Centre is looking for a diverse portfolio of solutions across users of Smart Caffe enrolled online or offline with variable background. We encourage creative students and/or start-ups of all backgrounds to submit applications.

    Solution applications must be written in English, if otherwise is not accepted by the company. We will consider solutions at all stages of development:

    • Concept: An idea being explored for its feasibility to build a product, service, or business model based on that idea. Please note that concept solutions are unlikely to be selected; you have until the application deadline to prototype and experiment with your idea!
    • Prototype: A venture or organization building and testing its product, service, or business model.
    • Pilot: An organization deploying a tested product, service, or business model in at least one community.
    • Growth: An organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth in multiple communities or countries.
    • Scale: A sustainable enterprise working in several communities or countries that is looking to scale significantly, focusing on increased efficiency.

DISCLAIMER: The European Commission's support for the production of this publication does not constitute an endorsement of the contents, which reflect the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

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