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2017 Competition & Awards

CVC SIPA Deans Challenge


In September 2016, eleven semi-finalist teams were chosen in the fourth competition of the SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge. Semifinalist teams participated in bootcamps including Prototyping, Financial Planning, Law and Startups and Effective Pitching. Teams were also provided support through funding and a team of Advisors. In January 2017, six finalist teams were selected to further refine and develop their projects. Winners of the fourth round of competition were announced in April 2017. 


Students: Sophia Burton, Alice Bosley, Patricia Letayf

FiveOne Labs: 4.8 million Syrian refugees now sit outside Syria’s border in neighboring countries, or are making the perilous boat journey to Europe. In this era of growing humanitarian need, the most sustainable solutions must leverage the latent talent, skills, and capacity of displaced communities and define refugees as agents of change rather than beneficiaries. FiveOne Labs, an online startup incubator,  will empower a new generation of refugee and conflict-affected entrepreneurs to create sustainable livelihoods. FiveOne Labs participants will enter a three-month long incubation program that includes training in business development, marketing, and design thinking; mentorship from experienced entrepreneurs and impact investors in New York City and the Silicon Valley; and the opportunity to compete for seed funding at the end of the program.

Students: Michael Alvarino, Olivia Marie Arguinzoni, Wayne Kunze, Sukumar Muramula, Malgorzata Rejniak, Kathryn Uhl

HelmetSmart is a technology company whose mission is to encourage motorcyclists in India to wear helmets while riding to eliminate preventable traffic-related injuries and deaths. We provide a telematics-based, helmet-safety solution for the motorcycle and health insurance industries, corporate HR departments, and logistics companies. Our solution is comprised of a device that attaches to motorcycle helmets and tracks helmet-wearing and riding behavior, a mobile app where riders upload their data, and an online analytics dashboard where companies access individuals’ riding and helmet-wearing activity. Our corporate partners can then incentivize prudent riding through adjusting insurance premiums or offering corporate benefits for those who ride safely. In India, traffic accidents kill thousands of people every year and leave many more injured and unable to provide for their families. In fact, one person dies every four minutes on India's roads. HelmetSmart will help break this status quo and save lives.

Students: Xinwei Gao, Seungwook Kim, Fang Liu, Yue Wang, Sihan Zhang

I-Care is an online platform that utilizes technology and medical data to provide disabled senior citizens and their families with more and better choices. We provide online training courses both for professional caregivers seeking to gain employment and for family caregivers stepping into caregiving roles for loved ones. We then match seniors with registered professional caregivers according to their medical record, special needs and location.


CiteMe is a mobile application that uses standard smartphone technologies to involve citizens in carefully tailored, results-driven field data collection. Our vision is to help citizens find and engage in projects that they want to contribute to—and to give them the tools they need to do it. When you join the CiteMe community and participate in a Challenge, you'll gain experience in different fields, collect data in the field using the photographs, GPS, and audio/visual capabilities of your smartphone, and peer-review data logged by other participants. All of the data collected in-app will be made publicly available (though the research organization that posted the challenge gets the first crack at it). At the conclusion of the challenge, all of the data that meet a set confidence threshold (driven by community review) are compiled and delivered to the organization that posted the challenge. When that organization uses those data in their research or other official operations, you’ll earn experience that builds your reputation in the community as well as real-time updates on the project you contributed to. You’ll also get a formal citation on your public CiteMe profile. 

Students: Alexei Gittelson, Johnathon de Villier


Demoperate is an online social platform for citizens to collaborate, network, and engage with one another and with their local governments to create, showcase, and comment on community projects, local infrastructure needs and improvement ideas. We will leverage a Kickstarter approach to crowdsource community project proposals and apply a Change.org e-participation model on a hyperlocal platform to champion local community improvement ideas.  Demoperate’s unique social network model encourages citizens to garner support from neighbors, friends, and community members in an open and transparent environment that can signal to public office holders of the real needs of the community. Local governments will also be able to use this platform to seek public feedback on existing project proposals and identify the projects with the highest measured social return on investment. Demoperate is the leading force for the next stage of citizen-government e-collaboration initiatives that will turn citizen-driven ideas into reality.

Students: Andy Chen Wang, Srujan Routhu, Shreemathi Tumkur, Andrea Venzon, Moritz Wussow


SunCommunity is a matchmaking platform that connects potential consumers and suppliers of solar technology in developing countries. SunCommunity aggregates high-end urban consumers to strengthen their negotiation capacity and thereby reduce the selling price of solar technology. Further, SunCommunity will lever these transactions to bring electrification to rural communities through an innovative financial model.

Students: Gabriel Guggisberg, Anders Enghild



Beyond the Board is a dual-component professional development resource for teachers in developing and remote areas, as well as in emergency and post-emergency situations. Our teacher training resources include pre-developed modules that focus on pedagogy rather than content — on “how” to teach, instead of “what” to teach. Beyond the Board’s platform also offers ongoing support to teachers through a web and mobile platform. This platform enables teachers to connect with mentor or partner teachers who provide support as they implement new teaching methods. We believe that all children should have access to quality education, and that quality education starts with quality teaching.

Students: Daniele Selby, Tabatha Pilgrim Thompson, Alexandra Wilcox


By Your Side is a remote parenting tool aimed to improve the frequency and quality of communication between migrant workers residing in cities and their children left behind in rural areas in China, with the hope to improve mental well-being of migrant worker families. Over 60 million children in China (1/5 of all Chinese child population) face long-term separation from their parents due to the country's rapid urbanization; similar phenomenon are also observed in other developing countries. As a result of parent absence, left-behind children are at higher risk of developing mental health issues (even suicidal tendencies), school drop-out and human trafficking. By Your Side will educate, prompt and enable migrant worker parents to gather crucial information of their children on a regular basis, facilitate two-way communication and provide overall emotional support, potentially through a combination of mobile app and wearable device technologies. 

Students: Rui Zhang, Rui Huang, Zhenyi Stephanie Shi, Alexandrea Logan, Yingxin Ye, Akshit Mehta


The Hyperlocal platform will connect you with people living in your building, to share or rent the things you need instead of buying them. Cities drive massive production of manufactured and perishable goods. Many of these products are rarely used and eventually thrown out, resulting in unnecessary carbon emissions, resource depletion and landfill. By allowing city-dwellers to communicate and share things, HyperLocal will enable more sustainable consumption patterns.

Students: Jay Bhankharia, Kunal Mahajan, Benjamin Jai-Ming Tan, Mihir Prakash


Schools' Voice is an online platform (app and website) that will empower Brazilian teachers and students by enabling them to share their views on the educational system they are part of. The basic idea is to collect inputs from schools, such as complaints and suggestions, and allow civil society to pressure government for change and government itself to have on-the-ground geo-referenced data about the day to day of its educational units. On one hand, the platform will allow teachers and students to share, anonimously or not, aspects of the schools that impact the quality of education: violence, infrastructure, parents participation, adequacy of curriculum, students' learning, need for their psychological monitoring and others. On the other hand, Schools' Voice will deliver this time-referenced data to the public through maps, graphs and tables -- allowing for better and more targeted policies. It will allow both teachers and students to communicate their needs and suggestions without intermediaries. Additionally, this intervention could also have the effect of motivating teachers, since one of the great causes for their dissatisfaction is the feeling that their views on the educational system were not being listened to, as shown by a study conducted by the Lemann Foundation in Brazilian public schools in 2014.

Students: Alessandro Passos, Daniel Barros, Yusuf Yavu


Trust Psychology aims at providing access to a trust-based online international psychological community, specifically designed at Chinese college students, between the ages of 18-25. This online platform will provide access to mental health resources, as well as the added benefit of confidentiality and anonymity. In the long run, Trust Psychology plans to work cooperatively with Chinese university mental health care system, and be efficiently engaged in youth mental counseling and therapy based on psychology-related big data.

Students: Shan Huang, Shanqing Tan, Mei Wang, Joshua Elder