How best to meet the most urgent challenges of a global community beset by inequity, injustice, and indifference? Imagine if that lofty mission were your actual day job. Alexandra Amouyel, executive director of MIT Solve, an initiative that connects tech entrepreneurs around the world with partners, funding, and resources, doesn’t have to imagine. Each year, the initiative invites anyone, from anywhere, to propose practical, scalable solutions to a select series of Solve’s hot-topic challenges.
Previously at the Clinton Global Initiative and Save the Children, Amouyel was recruited five years ago as Solve’s first executive director, tasked with ensuring the initiative can identify and support the right global solutions by fostering open innovation. This year, Amouyel and her team solicited input from the Solve community and decided to center the 2021 challenges around five relevant themes: antiracist technology, digital inclusion, equitable classrooms, health security and pandemics, and resilient ecosystems. HP is a sponsor of the digital inclusion and antiracist technology challenges, hosting the HP Prize for Accelerating Digital Equity, which will distribute $100,000 across four “Solver” teams within these two categories.
“I don’t believe that one can change things alone,” says Amouyel. “There is no lone innovator, or no lone activist.” Here, she explains what goes into a good challenge and even greater solve.
What attracted you to this unique position?
Solve is the vision of MIT president L. Rafael Reif. MIT’s mission is to advance knowledge and educate students to best serve the nation and the world. Solve is an acknowledgment that, as an institute, we need to have different ways of doing that — especially when there are almost eight billion people on the planet. There are innovators out there who are doing great work and who actually have more proximity to the real problems that communities face. I wanted to support these people.