Community News

Nike, City of Boulder and Others Run New Contests on the Climate CoLab


Organizations work with the MIT-based center in innovative take on finding climate solutions.

Today, Nike; the City of Boulder, Colorado; and the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts’s Kendall Square EcoDistrct opened up three new contests on the Climate CoLab’s open-innovation platform.

The contests allow thousands of people around the world to contribute their own ideas – as well as help develop other people’s ideas – on how to confront specific aspects of the climate challenge: How can we rethink how we value and use materials? How can we build community engagement and connectivity around climate change? And how can we encourage the use of sustainable transportation, such as biking?

The contests include:

  • Materials Matter, with Nike – According to MIT’s Materials System Laboratory, the global apparel industry is expected to produce more than 400 billion square meters of fabric per year — representing nearly enough material to cover the state of California — and is estimated to consume nearly 1 billion kWh (kilowatt hour) of electricity every year. This contest seeks revolutionary new ideas for how to engage industries, designers and consumers in valuing, demanding and adopting low-impact fabrics and textiles. (Nike’s release)
  • Climate Collaboration, with City of Boulder, Colorado – Boulder is a community that houses, per capita, more tech and natural food start-ups, impact investors and entities working on behalf of the environment than anywhere in the world. Yet, the city lacks the ability to effectively align collective agendas for greater impact, and it is not alone. Lack of collaboration is a struggle recognized in many communities, nationally and internationally, and is often due to a shortage of resources—time and money—to collaborate. This contest seeks dynamic platforms to build community engagement and help leverage and coordinate existing efforts.
  • Designing High Density Urban Bike Parking, with Kendall Square EcoDistrict, City of Cambridge, Massachusetts – As more and more city dwellers choose bicycles as their preferred mode of transportation, the availability of high-quality bike parking at certain locations has been a serious challenge. This competition aims to solve the problem by revealing design solutions that provide high-density, accessible, cost-effective bicycle parking in and around Cambridge’s Kendall Square. But while this competition is focused on Kendall Square, designs can be applied to other cities. The winners of this competition could potentially see their prototype come to life in Kendall Square, and then multiplied in cities around the world.

These three contests are part of a larger suite of 15-20 contests that the Climate CoLab runs each year, all of which focus on specific aspects of climate change, such as decarbonizing energy supply and transportation, preparing for the impacts of climate change, and shifting the public’s perception of climate action.

To date, the Climate CoLab has brought together a growing community of 50,000 people, including a broad range of scientists, policy makers, business people, investors, and concerned citizens. Anyone, form anywhere in the world, can contribute an idea to the contests. The ideas are then judged by a panel of experts, and the winners receive cash prizes.

“A complex challenge like climate change requires more expertise than any one person – or even small group of people – can possess,” says Prof. Thomas Malone, director of the Center for Collective Intelligence at the MIT Sloan School of Management and founder for the Climate CoLab. “This online problem-solving platform brings in the new voices and creative approaches that are needed to take effective action on climate change.”

These contests end in January and winners will be announced in the spring of 2016.   Stay tuned for other contests being launched throughout the year.

Learn more about each contest and submit proposals by clicking the links above.