SingularityU Japan Global Impact Challenge

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 January 31, 2017

Yuki Hanyu

2017 Winner
Yuki Hanyu

Areas of expertise: Technology/Science, Entrepreneur/Intrapreneur, Digital Biology, Medicine, Nanotechnology

Winning idea: Shojinmeat Project

The Shojinmeat Project is an open-source cultured meat cellular agriculture initiative.

Sho Nakanose

2017 Winner
Sho Nakanose

Areas of expertise: Technology/Science, Entrepreneur/Intrapreneur, Robotics, Networks & Computing Systems

Winning idea: GITAI

GITAI is a humanoid telepresence robot that uses virtual reality, robotics, and communication technologies to realize teleportation to increase the spans of the human body.


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

The challenge we face

Our society is full of great convenience. But, still, we fall short in creating a society that has zero problems. From polluted emissions, homelessness, and popping-up disputes, to late disease detection and acute mental health needs, Japan has many challenges.

Under SONY’s theme “Road to Zero” and Sony’s global environmental plan, we are aiming to create a society that could use exponential technologies such as AI, robotics, biotech, and nanotech to address our biggest problems.

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 candidates 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 only 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?

The prize

The winner of this challenge will secure 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.

Dates and timeline

Applications open: November 19, 2016

Applications close: January 31, 2017

Pitch event: February 25, 2017

Winners announced: February 25, 2017

Sponsored exclusively by:

SONY logo

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Rules & Criteria

Applicants must meet the following eligibility requirements:

  • The challenge is open to residents and citizens of Japan
  • 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

You’re an ideal candidate if you:

  • Are an experienced entrepreneur who has already turned over at least one successful company, and are ready to do it again in the impact space
  • Are an accomplished technologist, scientist, or change agent and are recognized as a thought leader in your chosen field(s)
  • Have a background in or a passion for addressing climate change
  • Have an innovative solution to an urgent global challenge—ideally, but not limited to, climate change—that leverages exponential technologies and can positively impact a billion people within 10 years
  • Are prepared to commit to launching a startup around your innovation and remaining attached to that venture, wherever the journey may lead post-GSP, based on your GSP team project

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 Japan
  • 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 (1 – 5 pages)
  • An abstract of the project idea (200 – 1000 words)
  • Video (provide url) of the project idea (2 minutes)
  • Applications open: November 19, 2016
  • Applications close: January 31, 2017
  • Pitch event: February 25, 2017
  • Winners announced: February 25, 2017

GIC Organizing Team

Jovan Rebolledo

Jovan Rebolledo

Researcher, Entrepreneur, Visionary

GSP09 and GIC Organizer

Kazunori Saito

Kazunori Saito

Entrepreneur and Consultant


Kuni Sasso

Kuni Sasso



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?

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