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IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Challenge
Call for Participation

The submission deadline has passed for the 2021 Connecting the Unconnected Challenge. We intend to run this competition again in 2022, so please stay tuned for announcements from our team. You can sign up for email alerts here. 

Also, mark your calendars for the Connecting the Unconnected Summit on November 3-5. We will send an email alert to the community when registration opens.


Before send your project, please read carefully the documents in the links below

Who can apply?

The competition is open to private sector companies or startups, nonprofits and grassroots groups, university projects, students, government organizations, any other organization or individual participants from anywhere in the world. Competitors from developing/emerging nations are especially encouraged to apply. Individual participants must be at least 18 years old.

Participants who represent underserved communities and/or the Global South are highly encouraged to apply.

Award Criteria

The submissions will be assessed based on a number of technical and societal impact criteria. These will include novelty/innovation of the idea/project and relevance to the CTU topic, as well as scalability, sustainability (from a business/deployment perspective) and readiness of the proposed solution. The submissions will be also evaluated on their potential for inclusion, impact, efficacy and risk level.

Competition rules and expectations

The competition will be executed in three stages. In the first stage (Phase 1)  participants are expected to submit a short initial submission that includes a 500 word abstract describing their solution.Those who advance to Phase 2 will be asked to complete a second, more detailed online submission, which may include additional supporting materials. In Phase 3 (Final), a select number of applicants will be invited to present to our selection committee in a closed door, live/virtual session with Q&A. The whole process is expected to last approximately 3 months from start to finish. Winners will be recognized at an awards ceremony during the IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Summit in November 2021, where they will be invited to present their solutions to the summit audience. 

  • All finalists will be required to present their solution online to the selection committee on either September 31, 2021 or October 1, 2021. 
  • All finalists will be required to undergo a due diligence procedure in October to verify submitted information before final ranking is determined. 
  • All awardees will be required to produce and submit a video of their solution which can be posted publicly by IEEE.
  • All awardees will be required to provide updated information about their solution 1 year following the award date. IEEE will not conduct a follow on audit and participants will not be required to indicate how the award money was used.

All awardees will be required to present at the Summit on November 3-5 2021.  

Selected submissions may be encouraged or invited to publish in IEEE publications.