DOIT Social Innovation Idea Challenge

Are you between 6 and 16 years old? And do you have an idea that could make the world a little bit better? Then we want to hear it!

Think about the things that matter to you and that you might be worried about. Whether it is environmental, health, accessibility, safety or other issues, there are many things affect your life and lives of other people around the world.

We want you to find a particular problem and think of a possible practical solution or improvement that could be created. It could be an electronic gadget, an object, a large structure... Be creative and think like a social innovator and maker! You can work on your own or in a small team of two, and send up to two ideas.

Between 15 and 31 May 2019, you will be able to send us your sketch and a little description in English of what it is and how, if built, it could help with a particular problem. We will share these on our website online, so that others can see them too. Our jury will select the ideas they like the best and give feedback on each at the end of June. Some of the young social innovators will then get the chance to work with an experienced mentor over three months to make their idea even better and explore it in more detail. In October, we will look at your final proposals. How far will you come? But remember, this is about challenging yourself too – use your creativity and see how good a social innovator you might be!

Check the details below!

All the entries will be uploaded later here: DOIT Challenge: Ideas

DOIT Challenge poster_May 2019_final


What is this all about?

We would love to see your ideas for things that could help solve or make better a problem or a challenge, from ecological problems to helping disadvantaged people or making difficult tasks easier. You can send one or two ideas any time in the second half of May 2019, with the very last day to send your idea on Friday 31 May.

Don't worry if you've never done anything similar or think that your idea won't be as good as others'. Believe in yourself and what you can come up with. Maybe it will be a brilliant idea! And in any case, you've got nothing to lose. :)


Who can take part?

Children and young people aged 6–16 who live in Europe can enter, as individuals or as small teams of two.

You have to be no older than 16 and no younger than 6 on the day of the deadline (31 May 2019) to enter. On the same day, you also need to be living in a European country (including non-EU countries in Europe), or need to have spent most of the past year living in Europe.

We will have two age categories: one for those of you aged 6–10 and one for 11–16. For small teams, we will look at your average age (so, if one of you is 10 and the other 12, the average is 11 and so you would be in the older category).

If you have no experience of designing or making gadgets to solve problems, that's perfectly fine – everyone is very welcome to try out. If you think of yourself as an experienced young social innovator, someone who has already been designing and building/programming many prototypes or perhaps teaching others how to do it, that's fine too, just let us know when entering the Challenge. If we have a lot of experienced social innovators entering, we might create a separate category for these to make sure those with very little or no experience don't feel like they don't have a chance.

You need to speak English well enough to understand what DOIT Challenge is about and to prepare some text to send us (this is explained later), though you can get someone else to help you check it. If your idea gets shortlisted as one of the few we liked the most, we will offer you the chance to work online with a mentor to work on your idea a bit more, and we need to make sure that you can communicate with them in English, as they might not speak your other language(s).


What should you send us and how?

We simply want to see how you think your idea might work and why it's a good one.

We want you to send us:

  • a picture (such as a drawing, a sketch or a scheme – can be done electronically or a scan/photo of a picture on paper) showing what you imagine the object to look like
  • short answers to a number of questions, such as your or your team's (nick)name (don't simply use your real name(s) but instead think of a cool nickname you like – EcoGirl, The Maker Wizards, Alex the Great, SuperTina – anything that you think fits you) and age(s), the title of the idea/object, and some description of how it would work, why you think it's important, what problem you are trying to help with and similar:

    Your nickname (as 1 person or a team of 2):

    Age as of 31 May 2019 (if you are a team of 2, age of each of you):

    Would you call yourself an experienced (social) innovator or maker? (Please, indicate Yes if you have already been designing or building/programming prototypes for several months or teaching others how to do it or you have won an award for your work. If you just took part in one DOIT pilot activity without having done anything similar before or after, you can choose No.) Yes or No [choose one]

    Title of your idea (invention, gadget, object or set of objects...):

    What is the topic or the problem that your idea is about? [no more than 200 words, please]

    How could your idea help if it were produced and used? How would it work? [no more than 350 words, please]

    While working on your idea, did you use any of the tools in DOIT Toolbox or did you get inspired by any of the success stories or videos of young people that we shared? If yes, which ones, for example?


Each participant (individual or team) can send one or no more than two separate ideas.

You can send this by email from your own email account if you have one, or you could ask your parent, older sibling, teacher or another person that you see often, as long as they are happy to then let you know if we write back to you – such as if your ideas is among the best ones!

Please, send your idea(s) to our email address challenge [at] Put all text in the body of the email (copy the questions into the email and add your answers), and the picture can be attached (as .jpg or .png file, not larger than 4 MB, with the name of your idea used as the name of the picture).* If you want to send more than one idea, please, send each in a separate email.


What will we be looking for?

We want you to focus on a problem that matters and draft a useful solution that would make things better or simpler. We want to see original ideas that would potentially work well. All ideas should be based on realistic expectations and not ignore scientific facts. But, simply, we want you to have fun, think about how people, no matter how young, could help make a difference and change things for the better, and work on your own or with one more person to think of a possible solution and how best to present it to others.


What kind of problems should you focus on?

Think about things that matter to you, that affect your everyday life or that of other people you are concerned about, things that could be improved. It should be a problem or a topic that affects not only you or a very small number of people but also others in your town, your country or around Europe. However, your proposed solution does not have to try to solve a big global problem – it can also be a small thing making lives of a group of people just a little bit better or easier. Innovation and progress is not just about a few very big ideas but also about thousands of small ones, helping with one problem at a time, making their own little contribution to a positive change.

To get some inspiration, just look around you, talk to your friends, relatives or teachers and have a think about what you think could be better and an invention could help with. You could also think about basic human rights, children's rights, the Sustainable Development Goals or others agreed as important global topics that you might have discussed at school, but remember to try to keep your goal realistic.

We would recommend you think about examples for the following:

1. What would help me and other people protect the environment and the Earth and live in a more sustainable, eco-friendly way?

2. How could we make it easier for children and young people to live a healthier life (both physical and mental health)?

3. What practical solutions could help in children and young people's everyday lives in areas such as education and learning, play and free time offline and online, friendships, family, safety in their neighbourhoods and towns, equal treatment and opportunities despite being different, or others?


Where can I find some inspiration?

Check out our DOIT Toolbox for a lot of tips and activities you could use in different situations! We also have videos on our YouTube channel that you might find interesting, such as other children and teenagers explaining their ideas. And we have prepared a lot of success stories of young social innovators – maybe even younger than you! – to inspire you about what you could achieve, and not just in this Challenge.



Who could you be working with over the summer? Say hello to some of the DOIT Challenge Mentors who would love to get to know you and help you on your fun journey to challenge yourself and create something amazing!

John di Stefano

John di Stefano is a passionate entrepreneur who loves the freedom to create his own future. In 2014, he formed the Entrepreneur Academy in Brussels, Belgium with the aim of providing a dynamic platform for entrepreneurs to grow, learn and practise, and serves as Senior Business Coach. He is involved in many student organisations and has extensive experience of offering entrepreneurial mentoring to teenagers and youth from around the world. When he is not generating new ideas and working on his own projects, he helps companies and individuals of all ages to get 'unstuck' and explore new sources of opportunity. His mission is changing people's lives for the better by supporting them in creating a life through which they can help others.

Over the years, working with teenagers and students in several European countries, John's approach has always been to tickle the curiosity. Curious young people want to learn, explore and step-out into the unknown. This is what entrepreneurship is all about.


Rozina Spinnoy_photoRozina Spinnoy is a Design Strategist and Social Entrepreneur running her own NGO and SMEs working across Europe and beyond. Wearing several hats and using her innovation and design management skills across a variety of sectors from Education, Equality, Inclusion, Women's issues, Mental Health, Urban Place-making and Civic Participation. An active volunteer and Board member for community organizations, including youth sports and neuro-diversity. Championing the value of inclusive education and 'designing' inclusive communities with BIDs Belgium and Belgium Design Council. Along with the entrepreneurial and digital inclusion project Analogue to Digital, with STEAM and social impact amongst other projects. Actively networking, with attending and participating in many of the European and global conferences across various sectors and fields from design to the urbanization of our cities.

Rozina has an enthusiasm and vigor for work, life, family, building relationships. Gaining immense satisfaction with watching people and in particular youth flourish when design and creativity 'touches' their lives. Not afraid to tackle challenging and complex problems, including challenging political systems and traditions.



Summary for parents, teachers, facilitators, etc.:

DOIT Challenge is an online activity that will allow children and young people aged 6–16 from across Europe to submit ideas for practical solutions to societal problems and craft and improve these with the help of experienced jury and mentors. This way, the challenge hopes to develop young social innovators who care about their communities and global challenges and use their curiosity, imagination, creative problem-solving and analytical skills to try to address real problems. Submissions of ideas for practical solutions, consisting of a visual representation (e.g. first sketch of a possible prototype) accompanied by explanation in English, will be showcased on our online platform. In the first round in May–June 2019, the jury will select long-listed and then shortlisted submissions and give them brief feedback. In the second round from end of June until early October 2019, shortlisted individuals/teams will work on improving their idea and preparing a more detailed proposal, with the help of their mentor.

We hope that you can help us share this opportunity with children and young people you know, and if you are a teacher, an educator, a facilitator or a youth worker, maybe you might wish to involve your class/group and give them space, encouragement and support. As many children and teens will not have their own email address, any adults they trust, such as their parent/carer, teacher or similar, can submit entries on behalf of one or more children and young people.* This will then be the email address we will use to inform long-listed and shortlisted participants at the end of June. (Participants that will continue to take part in the 2nd round might choose to change their contact email address at this point, to make sure that any email communication with their mentor can be accessed over summer.)

Feel free to contact us if you would like to see how you could get involved!

Download a larger version of the poster and display it in your class or similar: DOIT Challenge poster [pdf]


* By submitting your entry to this email address, you agree for us to store your email address and information provided and to share these with partners involved closely in organising the DOIT Challenge as well as with jurors (all information apart from email address) and mentors, if taking part in the 2nd round, and for the purposes of the DOIT Challenge only, and for us to contact you on this email address with updates or other necessary communication about the DOIT Challenge in respect to the entries submitted. Furthermore, you agree that the image, the individual's/team's chosen nickname and the text provided (some or all excluding exact age) will be published on the DOIT website on a dedicated page along with all other entries that meet the conditions, until the end of the DOIT Challenge (October 2019) or longer; you may however withdraw your agreement at any point by informing us via the same email address.


Other initiatives you might like

If you like inventing, coming up with ideas to solve problems, or maybe have an idea for a social enterprise or startup or are already running one, below is a selection of the various initiatives you might find interesting:

Little Inventors (ages 5–12)
Children can access inspiring resources and share their invention ideas on the platform, get feedback and possibly see their ideas brought to life by being animated or even made into reality by experienced makers.

World Robot Olympiad (ages 6–25)
A global competition for small teams who need to design, build and program a robot model that is capable to perform a challenge, play soccer or demonstrate a solution for a real-life problem, in 4 categories.

Social Innovation Relay (15–18)
A competition that challenges secondary school students from selected countries around the world to develop an innovative business concept that addresses a social need.

European Youth Award (under 33)
A Europe-wide contest to motivate young people, social entrepreneurs, and start-ups to produce digital projects having an impact on society.

Youth Citizen Entrepreneurship Competition (15–35)
A global competition for young people who have an innovative idea for an enterprise which contributes to one or more of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (category Best Ideas) or are operating such an enterprise (category Best Projects).

European Social Innovation Competition (young people encouraged)
A challenge for any legal entity or individual or a group of these for the most innovative projects solving problems affecting our society, with a set theme each year.

StartUp Europe Awards (existing startups)
An initiative for startups that fosters open innovation and collaboration, with a large number of topical categories.

Social Innovation Tournament (older students and adults)
For social entrepreneurs, including young entrepreneurs and enterprises and student teams, whose primary purpose is to generate a social, ethical or environmental impact, to submit innovative ideas or already implemented innovative solutions.