Overview Apply FAQ Current Competition Awards

2020 Competition & Awards

SIPA Dean's Challenge Grant 2020


In September 2019, twelve semi-finalist teams were chosen in the seventh 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 February 2020, six finalist teams were selected to further refine and develop their projects. Winners of the seventh round of competition were announced in May 2020. 


Tịnh Tâm: Tịnh Tâm (Pure Mind) is a comprehensive mobile application aiming to empower Vietnamese youth with mental health resources at their fingertips. It provides real-time assessment gauging the needs of each user, flags critical mental health scenarios, and connects individuals to appropriate mental-health resources (hotline, in-person therapy, “friend” counseling chatbot, and more). Tịnh Tâm seeks to support and build local Vietnamese healthcare capacity, overcome the burdens of cultural mental health stigma in Vietnam, and address the current need-gap for youth-focused mental healthcare. Through a comprehensive, youth-centered digital platform, Tịnh Tâm provides a  quality, personal, and cost-effective solution for a stronger and healthier Vietnam. 

Students: Loan Kim Chu, Khanh Vu, Taylor Light, Dan Poniachik, Martin Jose de Aubeyzon


VocatiNest: VocatiNest is an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based online job platform that provides end-to-end services from integrated personality & cognitive tests, tailored digital resume, to skill & personality job matching features. The objectives are to empower 5 million Indonesian vocational students and 1.7 million graduates annually to consolidate their competencies or take necessary actions to improve themselves to get fit in targeted jobs. At the same time, VocatiNest will deliver values to the employers through AI-based job matching feature to increase the qualified candidate pool and increasing the recruitment process’s effectivity & efficiency. We aim to create societal impacts on unemployment rate reduction, with the spill-over effect on the poverty rate alleviation.

Students: Edi Saputra, Lindi Anggrani, Daniel Oscar Baskoro, Rendy Dwi Novalianto


Art for Africa: Africa is known for its rich artistic and cultural heritage, but traditional artisans in Africa have little institutional support and often live in extreme poverty. With few local clients for their work and without access to the international market, many artisans are forced to abandon their trade - and centuries of tradition - in order to survive. We envision Art for Africa as a platform bringing talented, passionate artisans together with socially conscious, culturally curious customers. This online platform will leverage e-commerce as a means for financial inclusion and economic development, building sustainable, inclusive communities in post-conflict countries.

Students: Brit Felsen-Parsons, Junghoon (Erica) Lee, Jiayi Li, Isabel de Katona, Mihret Moges, Yao Wang


GreenItUp: GreenItUp believes that consumers will choose sustainable products, provided they are given the information they need to make environmentally-responsible purchasing decisions within their price range. Through a mobile app designed for both in-person and online use, GreenItUp will grant shoppers easy access to the hidden environmental costs associated with their purchasing decisions. By making sustainable consumption quick and easy, GreenItUp aims to unleash the purchasing power of environmentally-conscious consumers, sending strong demand-side signals to producers to adapt into a more sustainability-oriented marketplace.

Students: Maya Zamir, Sophia Ng, Kevin Karl


Ciclico: City Climate Company (Ciclico) aims to serve the ideal of replacing currently vicious city climate cycles (urban heat leading to air-conditioning leading to greater heat),  with virtuous cycles of natural cooling and lower energy usage. Central to Cilico’s mission is a technology solution which creates transparency into which urban cooling solutions create the greatest climate impact. Ciclico’s product overlays Satellite Geodata, Hyperlocal weather data, Community Survey data and data from custom installed IoT sensors. Ciclico will target one specific use-case of urban cooling i.e. ‘Rooftop Urban Farms’ prior to expanding the product for other use-cases.   

Students: Pranav Ramkumar, Valerie Ho, Jeremy Seah, Perry Landesberg, Yian Ke, Wissam Abdel Nour, Eduarda Zoghbi 


E-Maharat: E-Maharat -which means skills in Arabic- is a digital platform focused on increasing economic inclusion for refugees and forcibly displaced persons. We believe that empowering refugees with opportunities to both provide and seek services can formalize an already existing informal market that that is resilient and less reliant on external funding. To accomplish this, we are creating a platform that allows refugees in both urban and rural settings to share their skills with other refugees as a way to earn income, build social capital, and form a digital identity. With our model, E-Maharat helps to ease the pressure in host countries, as refugees build self-sufficiency and self-reliance by earning an income of their own and continuing to build the skills to offer to the host country’s labor market and economy.

Students: Natasha Bhuta, Sabaa Notta, Delfina Müller, Alejandra Cordero


Alley Spot: With the advent of autonomous vehicles, a vision of self driving cars has emerged that constantly circulate streets, providing on-demand rides to people that need them.  This contributes to congestion, a wasteful consumption of energy, and a deterioration of roads and municipal infrastructures. Alley Spot leverages data analytics, autonomous vehicles, and parking solution providers to create a more efficient urban traffic flow.

Students: Dustin Martelo, Robert Reagan, Brian Yang


DhanSahay: DhanSahay (Financial-help) is a voice-based interactive system which uses speech recognition and natural language processing to help users make digital banking transactions. At a higher level, DhanSahay will promote financial inclusion beyond just bank account ownership, focusing primarily on rural women in India, who are at the receiving end of a variety of Direct Benefit Transfers from the government. Through innovative use of technology, DhanSahay will process the service requests from the users and provide these women with carefully drafted instructions in their regional languages to help them perform basic banking transactions. 

Students: Ananya Singh, Mandira Sharma, Mayank Saxena


Knot for Profit: Knot for Profit is an Information Design Studio™ on a mission to enable impactful communication with a data driven approach in the non-profit sector. Presently, non profit sector uses separate design, marketing, analytics and research organisations to get their name out in the world. Often, these organisations do not have a sound understanding of the international development sector. We, at Knot for Profit, operate at the juncture of design, marketing, analytics and policy research. Our carefully selected team members bring impressive experience and qualification in the fields of international development, public administration, graphic design, coding, policy research and video & motion design. With a cumulative experience of 80+ years, we offer a unique blend of technologies and in the market which, presently, does not exist.

Students: Shubham Tomar, Tarang Singhal, Mohammad Shadan Khan, Ankit Sharma, Shruti Sharma


Offset: Offset is is a mobile app that allows daily individual users to donate a small sum which would then be invested in user-selected portfolios of carbon scrubbing companies and consumer products that are produced with net-zero emissions.  If successful, this application will allow carbon scrubbing and sequestration to expand in scope, will accelerate the launch of zero-carbon consumer products, and will allow users to simplify their thinking, action, and guilt about climate change with one easy weekly payment. The premise is dispensing with expectations of behavioral change and substituting a simple donation solution that will provide large-scale funding for real carbon reduction technologies and products.

Students: Saif Rehman, William McMillan Plews-Ogan, Pietro Rocco di Torrepadula, Emma Cloyd, Melisa Tapa, Catherina Gioino


Participa Brasil: The Participa Brasil goal is to be the interface for social participation between citizens and congresspersons, as well as the main source of information for a broad overview of social demands priorities. Participa Brasil is an online tool that connects elected legislators to the citizens in an effective way to consult the population and to monitor legislators’ votes vis-a-vis their districts’ preferences. In order to achieve that, we will build a platform in which citizens will be able to vote for specific aspects of proposed bills, as well as propose new issues themselves, and the most representative outcomes will serve as the input for the district legislator’s vote on the matter. This platform will enable social deliberation and social engagement on the Legislative Branch of Brazil, in the Municipal, State and Federal levels.

Students: Bruna Credidio Camara, Tiago Amaral Ciarallo, Brian Kennedy


Sandbox: Sandbox is a mobile gaming platform that detects trauma in migrant children. Based on the Center for Disease Control’s Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) tool that identifies instances of trauma in children, Sandbox will identify if the child falls under one or more ACE categories. Mental healthcare providers will then use Sandbox's results to evaluate a child's risk for poor, long-term developmental outcomes. Sandbox hopes to enable nuanced mental healthcare for a vulnerable population with the potential for broader application globally.  

Students: Fernando Armendaris, Katie Brehm, Martin de Aubeyzon, Serena Tohme