SingularityU Finland Global Impact Challenge

What big idea do you have that leverages technology and has the potential to impact millions of people positively?

Lauri Reuter

2017 Winner
Lauri Reuter

Areas of expertise: Technology/Science, Digital Biology, Medicine

Winning idea: Food Without Fields

Food Without Fields culture plant cells and microbial production systems to de-couple food production from the environment.

Tuija Pakkanen

2017 Winner
Tuija Pakkanen

Areas of expertise: Technology/Science, Networks & Computing Systems, Data Science

Winning idea: Justice for Civilians

Justice for Civilians detects and excavates mass grave sites in post-conflict locations using forest inventory methodologies like lidar and hyperspectral imagery.


The 2017 SingularityU Finland Global Impact Challenge (Finland GIC 2017) is an open call to entrepreneurs, technologists, designers, inventors, and scientists with the most innovative ideas for moonshot innovations that have the potential to positively impact millions of people within 10 years. The winner of the challenge receives a full sponsorship to attend the transformational Global Solutions Program (GSP).

Global Impact Challenge focuses on ideas that leverage exponential technologies, such as artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, robotics, data science, digital biology and biotech, medicine, nanotech and digital fabrication (i.e., 3D printing), networks and computing systems. The accelerating rate at which these technologies are advancing creates unprecedented opportunities for new solutions leveraging them to scale rapidly. As Finland is reaching its 100th year of independence this year, we welcome innovations that positively impact the lives of people living in Finland, but with an ability to scale and impact a billion people worldwide in 10 years. Your idea does not need to be at a certain stage; it can range from a concept with immense potential to an invention you have patented or a startup that you have founded.

For the first time, our Global Solutions Program (GSP) will have an overarching theme: climate change. We are ideally looking for applicants who have the skills and passion to develop a moonshot idea and launch a startup that addresses climate change. 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.

We also welcome applicants who have other areas of expertise and choose to innovate in other challenge spaces. Singularity University has defined 12 global grand challenges: energy, environment, food, shelter, space, water, disaster resilience, governance, health, learning, prosperity and security.

Five finalists will be selected to attend the prestigious 5-day SingularityU Denmark bootcamp in Copenhagen March 14th-18th, 2017. This program will teach participants how to apply exponential technologies and increase the impact potential of their ideas. At the end of March, the five finalists will pitch their ideas at the grand finals in Helsinki, after which a winner will be announced.

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

The winner of this challenge will secure a full sponsorship to attend the transformational Global Solutions Program at Singularity University. The program runs from June 17 to August 17, 2017, on the SU campus at NASA Research Park.

Five finalists will receive a fully funded seat at the SingularityU Denmark bootcamp in Copenhagen, in March 14-18, 2017.

Dates and timeline

Applications open: January 25, 2017
Applications close: February 26, 2017
Notification to finalists: March 1, 2017
Finalist bootcamp in Copenhagen: March 14-18, 2017
Grand finals pitch event & winner announced: March 29, 2017

Sponsored by:

Frazer logo KAUTEsaatio logo Teknologiateollisuuden logo

SITRA logo Tivia logo

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Rules & Criteria

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The challenge is open to residents and citizens of Finland
  • 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 on March 29

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 Finland
  • Feasibility, viability, and coherence of implementing the idea
  • Entrepreneurial and innovative potential, with a focus on technological novelty
  • Applicant’s leadership experience and quality, 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: January 25, 2017
  • Applications close: February 26, 2017
  • Notification to finalists: March 1, 2017
  • Finalist bootcamp in Copenhagen: March 14-18, 2017
  • Grand finals pitch event & winner announced : March 29, 2017

GIC Organizing Team

Anni Laurila

Anni Laurila

GIC Finland 2017 Organizer

GSP 2015, GIC Finland 2015 Winner

Jouni Lounasmaa

Jouni Lounasmaa

Executive Director, KAUTE Foundation

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. Your idea can range from a concept with immense potential, to an invention you have patented or a startup that you have founded.

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

The first phase involves a review of all applications to determine 5 finalists who get the prize to attend the SingularityU bootcamp in Copenhagen on March 14-18. The second phase involves final judging to select the winner at the grand final pitch event in Helsinki at the end of March.

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.

The winner and finalists are responsible for their own travel expenses.

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?

Get in touch with the Finnish GIC organizers by emailing them at [email protected], or contact the Global Impact Challenge team at SU at [email protected].