Over 50 percent of the world's population now live in cities all around the world and by the year 2050, the proportion is estimated to increase beyond 65 percent.
Urbanisation in Bangladesh itself has staggeringly grown in the past few decades, the results of which we see reflected in our daily traffic commute, environments, housing conditions for the poor and so on. The city of Dhaka has a population of 15.4 million, making it the 9th most densely populated in the city and with the current growth rate of over 2%, there is no question we'll see a rise in the ranks.
With this in mind, BRAC is launching the “Urban Innovation Challenge” to give a platform to and work with young, urban innovators who carry the potential to reinvent the future for the urban poor in Bangladesh. Together, the goal is to promote efficient utilisation of resources and bring about a sustainable change in the community by providing solutions through new ideas or social innovations.
Starting tomorrow, the Urban Development Programme and Social Innovation Lab, BRAC, will accept ideas for the Urban Innovation Challenge. Proposals will be accepted with a focus in three areas – health, transportation and increased earning opportunities for the informal sector workers. Applications can be submitted by individuals or a team of maximum 4 members. The organisers have also selected Campus Ambassadors who will promote the challenge in university campuses around the country from the first week of November. Multiple rounds of the challenge will see participants work closely with BRAC to polish their ideas, with valuable input from specialists in the field after which, four to five winners will be selected by a jury for the incubation phase. Each winner will receive a grant of up to BDT 5 lacs, along with all sorts of technical and design support from BRAC and external partner organisations.
The prototype development and field testing for winning ideas will take place throughout next year, with the final evaluation done in around September-October of 2017.
The organisers have high hopes on engaging the youth of the nation in stepping up to take matters in their own hands and believe it is they who can be the real ambassadors of change.
We don't see any urban policy or dialogues taking place regarding urban issues. But what we do see is the youth speaking up about a lot of important issues. We want to attract this young population and support them in bringing about positive, sustainable solutions for Dhaka city. It is high time that we join forces to solve our own problems,” expressed Ahmad Fazlullahil Baqi, senior programme manager, Urban Development Programme, BRAC.
BRAC envisions that the Urban Innovation Challenge will be a launchpad for impact-driven enterprises bringing sustainable solutions at the doorsteps of urban poor. At the end of the challenge, the incubated enterprises should be ready to take their products and/or services to the market and ready to pitch for investment. The call for ideas start tomorrow, Friday, October 28, 2016; for more information, visit the website at uic.brac.net or the Facebook page at facebook.com/uic.brac
With the organisers BRAC, the Urban Innovation Challenge will work with IDEO.org as knowledge partner, Beatnik as the digital engagement partner and SHOUT (The Daily Star) as the media engagement partner.