People’s Insights Volume 1, Issue 23: Dell Social Innovation Platform

The Dell Social Innovation Challenge recognises and supports young social innovators who dedicate themselves to addressing the world’s biggest problems. The issues they deal with are related to economic development, education, energy, food and sustenance, health and human rights. Participants can register on The challenge is divided into 3 rounds: Entry, Semi-Final and Final. Individuals or teams must create a Project Page and complete all required fields including information about the members, the idea, why it will work and so on.

Semi-finalists will need to upload a video pitch on YouTube or Vimeo and embed it on the project page. They also need to create a project roadmap. This includes a checklist of 10 basic elements every team or individual can address to improve their project’s probability of success.

Finalists will have to make a 15 minute live presentation at the Finalist Weekend in Austin, Texas USA to a panel of international judges, followed by a 15-minute question and answer session. The Dell social innovationwebsite says:

Anyone and everyone can join our growing online social innovation community and support students on their projects but only currently enrolled university and college students may create project entries and compete in our annual grand prize competition.

The annual Dell Social Innovation Challenge is open to college and university students across world. The competition has participants from Asia, South America, Africa, Australia among other places. The Dell website explains:

We provide university students with world-class teaching and training, as well as with start-up capital and access to a network of mentors and advisors. There are Grand Prizes, Expertise awards and People’s Choice awards.

Five Grand Prize winners chosen by judges bag cash prizes amounting to $105,000. The People’s Choice Awards are based on online voting in 17 categories. The winner in each category gets $1,000 prize. The award list is as follows- Grand Prize Awards • $50,000 grand prize • $20,000 second prize • $10,000 third prize Two Expertise Award winners (selected by judges) who will also attend the Finalists Weekend will get: • $15,000 Tomberg Prize in Environmental Sustainability • $10,000 Best Innovation Leveraging Technology presented by Dell 200+ Semi-Finalists (selected by judges) will receive: • 1:1 mentoring by a DSIC-certified mentor to refine the project page and required materials for the finals. Dell is looking for social innovators who can create a global impact with ideas that can significantly curtail existing social or environmental problems. The judges include an esteemed panel of experts from various social and environmental fields from across the world. The 3 main judging criteria according to Dell are: 1. Clarity of the innovation and significance of social impact. 2. Demonstration of a high probability of success. 3. Potential impact after winning Dell Social Innovation Challenge Explaining the mission, Dell states:

The mission is to identify and support promising young social innovators who dedicate themselves to solving the world’s most pressing problems with their transformative ideas.

Dell has a separate community section where people can get a lowdown on projects, other community members and gather support or support projects through various functions.

A glance at the community shows 93,000 registered profiles with 68,000 general public, 24,000 students and the rest mentors and faculty. Each member has an influence score — something like a Klout score — that is measured on the basis of activity, profile views, projects supported, votes for projects and popularity The page also has a Twitter stream that shows what people are saying about the platform.

Users can describe themselves in the ‘About’ section where they can share personal information, work experience and educational background. Users can follow projects or people, find project team members, attract support for personal projects or vote for projects as well. Dell has undertaken corporate citizenship projects in the past. Previous activities include Dell’s Go Green Campaign. Dell’s CSR mantra on their website is

Across the globe, Dell strives to make being “green” easier for customers and provide underserved youth access to technology, education and training so they can unlock their true potential.

This philosophy drives the way Dell approaches and engages its communities, people and the planet. Dell believes that access to the right tools and skills, people, organisations and communities can help achieve anything. Dell’s CSR activities spread across corporate responsibility reporting, environment, communities, diversity and inclusion, corporate accountability, governance and supply chain. Corporate social innovation is defined as:

Corporate Social Innovation is when commercial companies integrate innovative solutions to a problem or a need on a society level in their core business, through core competences. Like Dell, an increasing number of brands are using social innovation to elevate corporate citizenship. Leading companies such as Shell, Abbott Laboratories, Dow Corning, and IBM are using various models and methods of social innovation.

We have previously reported how Mahindra’s Rise (link), Intel’s Innovator Competition (link), Starbucks’ ‘Vote.Give.Grow’ (link) have been using innovative solutions. With the internet strengthening its impact in developed countries and growing in developing countries, social, economical and environmental solutions can now be addressed from one end of the world for problems in the other and the trend is certainly here to stay. (MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities. As an example, 50+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on corporate citizenship, crowdsourcing and storytelling on the MSLGROUP Insights Network. Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the iPad-friendly People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities. As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at

Rooshabh Doshi

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