SingularityU Costa Rica Global Impact Challenge

A moonshot idea addresses a huge problem, proposes a radical solution, and uses breakthrough technology.

What moonshot idea would you develop that would impact the lives of a billion people in the next 10 years by applying exponential technology to address a global grand challenge?

Submit your idea by February 27, 2017

Arnoldo Muller-Molina

2017 Winner
Arnoldo Muller-Molina

Areas of expertise: Technology/Science, Entrepreneur/Intrapreneur, AI & Machine Learning, Data Science

Winning idea: Kind Transportation Network

Kind Transportation Network opportunistically connects existing transportation services in a seamless way to reduce traffic and to socially connect individuals.

Maricel Saenz

2017 Winner
Maricel Saenz

Areas of expertise: Entrepreneur/Intrapreneur

Winning idea: Ocean Guard

Ocean Guard is a platform to monitor the ocean using hyperspectral sensors and satellite images to empower ocean guarding bodies.


The purpose of the SingularityU Costa Rica Global Impact Challenge is to foster moonshot innovations and startups that positively impact the lives of people living in Central America, with an ability to scale and impact a billion people worldwide in 10 years

This year, for the first time, we are ideally looking for applicants who have the skills and passion to develop a moonshot idea and launch a startup company that addresses climate change, although we will also accept outstanding applicants who have other areas of expertise or choose to innovate in other fields.

Climate change is a broad focus area that includes many areas ripe for innovation. For example, if you’re developing sustainable food sources or alternative energy sources, developing governance models for policy, or focused on issues such as biodiversity or water access, you already fall within the climate change theme and should definitely apply.

Again, we welcome entrepreneurs, technologists, scientists, and other experts from all disciplines to apply, and we will not require participants to innovate in the climate change space.

What moonshot innovation would you develop to solve a global grand challenge (environment, energy, water, food, health, disaster resilience, governance, learning, space, security, prosperity, or shelter) using exponential technology that would impact the lives of a billion people in the next 10 years?

New for 2017

This year, the GSP has two big changes: (1) climate change is the overarching theme, and (2) we have a new collaboration with XPRIZE.

We selected the climate change theme because it has consequences for every industry, geographic region, and way of life. Even if you don’t consider yourself a climate change authority or innovator, your skill set can probably help mitigate the effects of climate change. If you’re already passionate about impact or working in the impact space, you can create a moonshot innovation to address this urgent global problem.

We will not require participants to innovate in the climate change space, and welcome people from all disciplines to apply, but this theme will inform the program curriculum. We are looking for applicants from ANY technology or science discipline because we know a challenge as huge as climate change can only be solved within the convergence of multiple disciplines and exponential technologies.

Our collaboration with XPRIZE will give you an extraordinary opportunity to tap into the wisdom and expertise of the best minds working in this field today and their established network of funders.

The prize

Ready to join our quest and help create positive impact in the world, or amp up the work you’re already doing? Excellent, we hope you’ll apply! The ultimate winner of this challenge will obtain a FULL SPONSORSHIP to attend the prestigious Global Solutions Program at Singularity University. The program runs from June 17 to August 17, 2017, and is held on the SU campus at NASA Research Park.

But wait! There’s more!

All finalists of this challenge will be invited to participate in an immersive experience in Costa Rica with the opportunity to attend a 1-week camp in Silicon Valley to learn more about exponential technologies and the startup life! So make sure you have your passport and visa ready!

Dates and timeline

Applications open: December 19, 2016

Applications close: February 27, 2017

Pitch event: April 1, 2017

Winners announced: April 1, 2017

Sponsored exclusively by:

micitt logo

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Rules & Criteria

  • You must be age 21 or older on the first day of the GSP
  • You must be fluent in written and spoken English
  • You must be able to participate in the entire GSP17 program from June 17 – August 17, 2017
  • Applicants selected as finalists will be interviewed by a panel of judges in person on the week of March 5, 2017
  • The challenge is open to residents and citizens in Costa Rica; the challenge is also open to residents and citizens of Belize, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama who can make themselves available in person for the pitch event and, if selected, all of the experience activities for finalists

We look for people from all professional backgrounds, but will be really thrilled to find you if:

  • You’re an accomplished entrepreneur, technologist, scientist, or change agent with expertise in your chosen field(s)
  • You have a background in or a passion for addressing climate change or are working to address any of the direct or indirect effects of climate change, such as governance, security, sustainable water supplies, and alternative food or energy sources
  • You’re already considering how to leverage exponential technologies to create positive impact in the world
  • You’re committed to the long-term journey of launching an impact-focused startup

We will evaluate submissions using the following criteria:

  • Degree of the solution’s relevance to the theme of the challenge
  • The regional relevance in solving the challenge in Costa Rica
  • Coherence of the idea and the feasibility and viability of implementing it
  • Entrepreneurial and innovative potential, with a focus on technological novelty
  • Quality of applicants’ leadership experience, profile, achievements, and potential
  • CV or resume
  • Summary of accomplishments
  • An abstract of the project idea
  • Video (provide url) of the project idea
  • Applications open: December 19, 2016
  • Applications close: February 27, 2017
  • Pitch event: April 1, 2017
  • Winner announced: April 1, 2017

GIC Organizing Team

Priscilla Chaves Martinez

Priscila Chaves Martínez

Impact entrepreneur, business leader and technology enthusiast

GSP16 and GIC Organizer

Roberto Sasso

Roberto Sasso

Business and Technology Leader, Entrepreneur and Consultant


Frequently Asked Questions

Global Impact Challenges (GICs) are annual incentive competitions held in partnership with sponsor organizations worldwide and organized by geography and theme. These challenges act as a platform to identify outstanding entrepreneurs, leaders, scientists, and engineers with the most innovative ideas for moonshot innovations and startups that can positively impact a billion people in 10 years. The winner of each challenge receives a full sponsorship to attend our transformational Global Solutions Program.


No, ideas do not have to be at a certain stage to be submitted.

Intellectual property resulting from a GIC belongs to the applicant(s).

The selection process has 2-3 phases, depending on the GIC. The first phase involves a review of all applications to determine 5-10 finalists, and the second phase involves final judging to select the winner at a pitch event.

No, there’s no such obligation from either SU or the GIC Sponsor. The GIC winner can elect to recruit fellow GSP classmates to work on his or her winning project or create an entirely new project during the summer.

GIC winners are responsible for their own travel expenses to/from SU.

In all cases where a GIC winner cannot attend GSP, the winner forfeits his or her GSP seat to the first runner-up and would then need to reapply for admission in a future year.


Still have questions?

Follow us on Facebook at Global Impact Challenge Costa Rica, or on Twitter @sucostarica

Get in touch with the Costa Rica GIC organizers by emailing them at [email protected], or contact the Global Impact Challenges team at SU at [email protected]