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The Centennial Innovation Challenge Winners have been announced! Please click on the "awards" page above.

In celebration of our centennial, The Rockefeller Foundation is calling on your ingenuity to chart new paths, paths that will transform the lives of billions working in informal economies across the globe.

It is often out of necessity that 1.8 billion people find their livelihoods in the informal economy - the business enterprises and jobs that exist partially or outside of government regulation. People may benefit from working in the informal economy, in both urban and rural settings. However, many poor or vulnerable individuals working in the informal economy face multiple challenges that can stunt their economic mobility and the overall well-being of their families. The challenges can range from limited opportunity to increase one’s income to job insecurity to poor market information. At the same time, the poor or vulnerable are often excluded from the resources that could improve the quality of their jobs, and, therefore, their lives.

As many as 10 of the Finalists will be invited to apply for a grant of up to US $100,000 each and win support in proposal writing to enable the further development of submitted ideas.

Together, we can solve the world’s most urgent problems — today, and for the next 100 years.

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Please read the FAQ for more details on the solutions we are seeking and for official rules.

This competition is subject to eligibility requirements and official rules and is void where restricted or prohibited by law.

Official Rules

challenge requirements

The Rockefeller Foundation Centennial Innovation Challenge is open only to entrants who are (a) persons age 18 or older at the time of entry, or (b) public or private organizations (e.g. not-for-profit organizations, governmental, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, private businesses, academic institutions, associations, guilds, membership organizations or municipalities) (each, an “Entrant”)

Individuals and informal entities must affiliate with a formal entity prior to applying for a grant from The Rockefeller Foundation.

There is no limit to the number of entries that an individual or organization can submit. Multiple representatives from one organization can submit multiple entries as long as the innovation is different.

To be eligible for consideration, each entrant must:

  • Agree to the Official Rules.
  • Submit an entry form with all required fields completed through the Challenge website at, or by email to
  • Submit the entry in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish or Thai.
  • Complete the entry form and submit or send it before the deadline of April 1, 2013 by 23:59:59 GMT.

All eligible entries will be screened for completeness, compliance with the Official Terms and Conditions, and adherence to the Challenge objective of identifying innovative ideas that address the challenges faced by and support the livelihoods of poor or vulnerable people working in the informal economy.

A shorter list of entrants will be judged by a panel of expert judges using the following criteria:

Centennial Innovation Challenge finalists will be those ideas that:

1. Are new ideas or are existing ideas applied in a new geography, audience, or context.
2. Uniquely and specifically respond to the problem statement.
3. Show the most promise for catalytic innovation, impact, context, and spark, as assessed by the challenge team and panel of expert judges.
4. Garner high scores, ten being the top score using the scoring system below, from the independent panel of judges in the following areas:

a. Catalytic Innovation (4 points) The extent to which the idea:
i. Develops a product, process or service that yields new pathways for solving acute problems;
ii. Reframes, reimagines, or recombines different points of view and different existing elements for sufficient action or impact;
iii. Shows potential for implementation and replication;
iv. Is rooted in a methodology or process;
v. Accounts and accommodates for risks and potential unintended consequences.

b. Impact (3 points) The extent to which the idea could significantly benefit poor or vulnerable people if implemented because it:
i. Improves the livelihoods and quality of life of poor or vulnerable people working in the informal economy;
ii. Is adaptable to different occupations and work situations in the informal economy;
iii. Addresses a core need or core needs faced by the poor or vulnerable population it seeks to impact.

c. Context (2 points) The extent to which the idea responds to context:
i. Accounts for specific contexts (geographies, beliefs, norms);
ii. Attempts to solve a particular problem (or a set of problems).

d. Spark (1 point) The extent to which the idea:
i. Generates excitement for its originality, expression and potential.

The judges will select up to 15 finalists from the shortlisted entrants (each a “Finalist”). The Rockefeller Foundation will select as winners up to ten of the Finalists’ entries that it determines show the most promise for Catalytic Innovation, Impact, Spark and Context, and consistency with The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world (each, a “Winner”).

challenge timeline

Round nameStarts onEnds on
Submission roundFebruary 11, 2013 @ 8:00 AM (GMT)April 10, 2013 @ 11:59 PM (BST)

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