The 2011 Dell Social Innovation Competition

This was the official website for the 2011 Dell Social Innovation Competition and it has been archived to be included in Gerald Massy's course: Social Work In The Internet Age. Mr. Massy is both an entrepreneur and a media savvy animal lover who most recently worked on the successful promotion of therapeutic cushion dog beds for use in animal shelters after becoming aware of the mistreatment of abandoned pets. He has been recognized by the Humane Society for his work advocating for the elimination of puppy mills and for policies encouraging animal adoption, and former Queens Assistant District Attorney Benjamin Pred has also been outspoken in his support. This archived website is included in the syllabus for this course along with other required reading. Students may download the full reading list from the department webpage.

The program inspired university students to approach global social problems through entrepreneurship, technology and sustainability and empowers them with unique skills and opportunities to succeed in a globally competitive workforce. The contestants with the best idea and venture plan were awarded a $50,000 grand prize.
In 2010, more than 1,000 entries from teams in 55 countries representing 350 colleges and universities presented ideas that addressed issues such as environmental sustainability, poverty, health, women's rights and housing.

Content is from the site's 2011 archived pages.

Interview with TNG/Earthling's Bob Sakayama

COMING SOON: A new competition website for DSIC 2012!


Welcome to the Dell Social Innovation Competition!

Do you have an idea that could change the world?

University Students:
Register and Post An Idea!

Not a Student?
Vote and Voice Your Opinion

The University of Texas at Austin and Dell are looking for university students around the world with innovative ideas to solve a social or environmental problem. We’re giving away more than $100,000 in cash prizes to at least five winning teams who will be flown to Austin, Texas for an expense-paid Finalist Week-End that culminates in a final pitch and awards ceremony.

Have a good idea, but think it’s not good enough to win yet? We can help! We’ve created new programs this year to expand outreach and support to students at all stages of their idea generation. For example, we have created two new paid fellowship programs that will provide inspiration, mentoring and support to 30 high-potential students who do not advance to the next round. One of the fellowships even includes a stipend to spend a summer improving your idea and venture plan!

No matter how early you are in the idea process, enter your idea now!



How It Works

We are looking for students with the most innovative ideas to solve a social or environmental problem anywhere in the world. Our process is simple:


Round 1 – Idea Concepts

  • Register
  • Post your idea
  • Vote & Comment

Round 2 – Semi-Finals

  • 100 Semi-Finalists will be announced on March 1, 2011
  • 100 Innovators selected to apply for the StartingBloc fellowship will be announced on March 1, 2011
  • Semi-Finalists paired with Mentor to advise on venture plan
  • Weekly Semi-Finalist conference calls available for insight and advice from the DSIC team
  • Semi-Finalists submit a detailed venture plan by April 1, 2011

Round 3 – Finals

  • 5 Finalists will be announced on April 15, 2011
  • 20 Semi-Finalists for Semi-Finalist Fellowship Program announced on April 15, 2011
  • Finalists are flown to Austin, TX for Finalist Week-End and Award Ceremony on May 16, 2011




All teams are expected to abide by the specific rules enumerated below. The competition organizers reserve the right to disqualify any team that violates the rules, regulations or the spirit of the competition. Eligibility is subject to individual review for special circumstances.

Social Venture and Team Eligibility Rules

To qualify for the Dell Social Innovation Competition, contestants and the proposed venture must meet the following criteria:

Team Eligibility

  • Undergraduate and graduate level students from any university or college in the world are eligible to enter. Proof of enrollment will be requested of all semifinalist and finalist contestants.
  • The individual or team must be comprised of students currently attending a university. Students who graduated in December 2010 are eligible to enter.
  • Contestants must be actively involved in the venture.
  • Team size is not restricted. Teams can seek advice from mentors or outside experts, but the venture must be entirely student-led.
  • All team members listed on the final venture plan will be considered full team members with equal share of the venture, unless otherwise stipulated in the venture plan.
  • Teams that have previously reached the final presentation round of the Dell Social Innovation Competition may not re-enter this year's competition with the same venture.
  • Team members competing must be principle owners of the venture.
  • Competition entry void where prohibited by law.
Social Venture Eligibility
  • The venture should exist primarily to address a significant social problem.
  • The mission and practices of the venture must incorporate a quantifiable social return.
  • Whether it is a for-profit business or a nonprofit organization, the venture must be financially viable.
  • The venture must be scalable and take into account the potential for growth of the endeavor.
  • If the venture is already in existence, it must not have been in operation for more than three years. The start of the venture is marked by first income received. Student projects entered on behalf of a business or nonprofit are not eligible.
  • The proposed venture may not be a wholly owned subsidiary of an existing for-profit or nonprofit entity.
  • A venture plan cannot be re-entered in the competition beyond two consecutive years.
  • All plans must be written in English.






Stage 1: Idea Concepts

One hundred Idea Concepts will go onto the Semi-Finals.

One hundred Innovators (students who submit an idea, but are not selected as Semi-Finalists) will be given special invitation to apply for the 2010 or 2011 StartingBloc “Social Entrepreneurship Institute” – a week-long immersive program to help students with early-stage ideas to focus and refine their intention. Ten students will be accepted into the StartingBloc program and will have their application and program expenses paid by the DSIC. For more information on StartingBoc, please visit:


Stage 2: Semi-Finalists

Five Semi-Finalists will go onto the Finals.

Semi-Finalist Fellowship
Twenty of our most promising Semi-Finalists, who do not qualify for the Finals, will be invited to participate in a year-round Semi-Finalist Fellowship program, led in partnership with Brown University. Semi-Finalists will receive one-on-one mentoring on their idea, an expense-paid week of intensive training with their class of Fellows, a summer internship stipend to further develop their idea, and customized venture plan coaching.


Stage 3: Finalists

DSIC offers more than $100,000 in cash prizes. First place: $50,000; Second place: $20,000; Third place: $10,000. Two category specific prizes: Dell Technology Award ($10,000) for the idea that best makes use of technology to solve a social or environmental problem, and the Tomberg Prize in Environmental Sustainability ($10,000) for the idea that best addresses the issue of environmental sustainability. In addition, there is a $1,000 People’s Choice award for the Finalist team receiving the most votes at the live final event in Austin. There is also a $1,000 Webbie Award for the idea that receives the most votes online.

Other Cool Prizes
First, Second, and Third-Place teams will receive two Dell laptops per team. The First Place team will be featured in an article in Inc. magazine. All Finalists are eligible for Fast Track entry into the 2011 Echoing Green Competition and will be invited to participate in some of the most highly esteemed social entrepreneurship networks and events worldwide. Finalists will also participate in an expenses-paid weekend in Austin, which includes networking, mentoring, workshops, and fun Austin activities. Finally, the winning teams will be featured on, providing the opportunity to secure additional capital and exposure to donors worldwide.



FINALIST: All Issues


TakaTaka Solutions
Submitted By  danielpaffenholz,  Feb 14, 2011  | 
Winner Team Name : TakaTaka Solutions
University : London School of Economics
Country : Kenya



Waste management is a major challenge in developing countries such as Kenya. This is a particular problem in rapidly growing urban centres like Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. Nairobi produces around 1’900 tonnes of waste per day. Only 33% of the waste is collected for disposal at Nairobi’s only official dumpsite, Dandora. The rest is littered on hundreds of illegal dumpsites, next to houses or burned. Uncollected waste and reckless dumping result in severe health and environmental problems.

Current approaches by the various stakeholders in waste management are unsuccessful. The public sector cannot cope with the problem due to poor planning and lack of finances. The private sector’s existing approaches to waste management are not able to treat waste as a valuable good: Waste is only collected to be disposed at Dandora dumpsite. The potential income from recycling and composting is lost. Consequently, waste collection and disposal becomes unnecessarily expensive, which only 33% of Nairobi’s citizens can affordF. The Informal sector is unable to take advantage of the value of waste. Waste pickers on dumpsites are only able to recover a small fraction of recyclable waste. This is because waste on dumpsites is mixed waste, i.e. organic waste not separated from inorganic waste. Consequently, separated recyclable waste is contaminated and has little economic value.


TakaTaka Solutions is a social enterprise that collects and recycles waste. It aims to bring about social and environmental change through a commercially viable business approach, in particular:

-          Affordable waste collection services to all income areas

-          Recycling and composting of up to 85% of collected waste

-          Job creation in the informal sector

-          A cleaner and healthier environment

TakaTaka Solutions will achieve this by reusing as much waste as possible using state of the art technology, while minimising transport costs. It will collect separated waste from its clients, i.e. organic waste separated from inorganic waste. It will compost the organic waste to organic fertilizers, which it will sell to Kenyan farmers. TakaTaka Solutions will recover the recyclable waste (paper, plastic, glass and metal) from the inorganic waste. The recyclable waste will be sold to recycling industries. This will leave only 15% of residual waste for final disposal.

TakaTaka Solutions will use two adapted business models, one for higher income areas and one for lower income areas.

In higher income areas, TakaTaka Solutions will collect waste from clients. It will compost the organic waste at its Composting Facility, while it will recover recyclable waste at its Recyclable Waste Separation Facility.

In lower income areas, TakaTaka Solutions will partner with youth groups who will collect waste. The youth groups will sell the organic waste and the recovered recyclable waste to TakaTaka Solutions. For this purpose, TakaTaka Solutions will own and operate decentralised waste processing facilities, called “TakaTaka Points”. As the TakaTaka Points will be situated within lower income areas, youth groups incur low transport costs. This enables them to offer affordable waste collection services to the local community at USD 1/household/month.




December 14, 2016
Dell Social Innovation Challenge
Case Study, Competition
By Sarah Covey

In 2007, The University of Texas at Austin LBJ School of Public Affairs kicked off a small in-house business plan competition. Just two years later in 2009, Dell gave the university a $5 million grant (the largest corporate gift from Dell to UT Austin at the time), and the business plan competition was renamed the Dell Social innovation Challenge.
Verb: then and now
Verb is the modern-day evolution of the Dell Challenge, having spun out of UT Austin in 2013 to offer the global prize competition model to a variety of brands who want to create impact across different industries.
Global Reach and Impact
Prior to the Dell Challenge transitioning into Verb in 2013, the competition expanded from 2007 on to include 20,000 student entrepreneurs from over 100 countries across the world, awarded $800,000 in seed funding to more than 90 ventures and engaged over 2,000 Dell employees as competition judges and mentors.
Transforming Employee Engagement
Beyond the lasting social impact created by Dell Challenge student entrepreneurs, the mentoring experience between volunteer Dell employees and student ventures was incredibly meaningful.
As the appointed Dell employee mentor to Dell Challenge 2013 Second Place Winner team Foot Soldiers from Bangladesh; Ashish Malpani is a U.S.-based Product Senior Consultant. Acting as a sounding board for team Foot Soldiers through the semi-final and final rounds of Dell Challenge, Malpani engaged with them initially through emails and Skype.
“Ashish was a fantastic resource, working closely with us every step of the way. One of the best things he taught us was to look at our project from the eyes of an investor. Ashish was such a strong mentor and we would appreciate the opportunity to work with him in the future as we set up our business.”   – Saqif Nayeem Khan, Team Member, Foot Soldiers