Big Data for Development Innovation Challenge

Big Data for Development Innovation Challenge

Background Information

The African Institute for Mathematical Sciences – Next Einstein Initiative (AIMS-NEI), in partnership with the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), is launching the Big Data for Development (BD4D) Innovation Challenge. 


The BD4D Innovation Challenge aims to support emerging young African data scientists to develop innovative solutions that leverage new and non-traditional sources of data to address development challenges.  


  • Seed funding grants of up to USD 10,000 
  • Mentorship support
  • Public recognition and opportunity to network 

Innovation Challenge Awards

Selected candidates will pitch at the Final Challenge and compete for seed funding awards and mentorship support. 

Challenge Winners will be selected and awarded for the following categories:

  1. Best BD4D-IC solution: Up to $10,000 
  2. Most Innovative BD4D-IC solution: Up to $10,000 

 AIMS-NEI will extend an invitation to the winning solutions to explore ways to collaborate in validating, implementing or scaling the project’s reach. All winning projects will be recognized through public communications from the AIMS-NEI, IDRC and the World Bank Group and may be mentioned as part of a high-profile international event where the BD4D network will participate. 

The prizes will be awarded in disbursements, based on a deliverables plan which will be agreed with each team. 

Program Structure & Challenges

The challenges 

For this pilot program, the following three challenges have been selected. In future editions, there will be additional challenges in different development areas. 

Before submitting your application, we kindly invite you to click on each link below and take time to read the information provided about each challenge.

  1. Youth employment 
  2. Financial inclusion
  3. Food security


  • 25 July 2019: Applications open
  • 21 August 2019: Applications close 
  • 27 August 2019: Accepted applicants will be notified 
  • 9 September 2019: Final Challenge competition
Application & Selection Process

BD4D Innovation Challenge Application  

  1. Applicants must use this online form to submit their application for the BD4D Innovation Challenge.
  2. The best submissions will be invited to pitch at the Final Pitch Competition. 
  3. The Pitching Competition will take place on September 9th, 2019. Winners will be announced on the same day.

Expected Submissions

SOLUTIONS: These are innovative big data-driven solutions that address one of the challenge statements presented in the BD4D Innovation Challenge. The submitting solutions should have been tested or validated at a basic level and demonstrate this through the submission form. 

 PROTOTYPES: These are innovative functional prototypes that are yet to be validated, and that address one of the challenge statements. Prototypes will be expected to justify the value of their concept through written documentation, supporting data, screenshots, videos or other relevant media files. 

  • Each Solution or Prototype must leverage or create some type of Big datasets. Combinations of traditional and new or unconventional data sources will be acceptable. 
  • Submissions may be any kind of a research proposal, insight or data-driven solution, be it for the web, a personal computer, a mobile handheld device, console, SMS, or any software platform broadly available to the public. APIs and algorithms will also be accepted.  
  • Submissions may incorporate open source or any new technology. 

Eligibility Requirements

The BD4D Innovation Challenge is open to Applicants from member countries of the African Union. Applicants may be individuals or teams of individuals. Teams are encouraged to combine skills in data science and data engineering. Applicants are responsible for compliance with the legal requirements of their country. 

Applicants must submit a solution to one of the 3 challenges: 

Submission Period

The BD4D Innovation Challenge Submission Period will begin on July 25th, 2019 at 12:00 PM Central Africa Time (CAT) and end on August 21st, 2019 at 11:00 PM CAT.

How to submit your solution

  • Registration

Applicants visit this online form to submit an entry. Registration is free. Only applications submitted through the online form will be accepted.

  • Online Submission Requirements

Each Contestant will be required to provide the following as part of his or her Submission:

  1. A link to a demo of your solution/prototype, which could be in the form of a Kaggle kernel, Youtube video, Medium article, or hosted web application, among others.  
  2. A text description of your solution/prototype 
  3. Electronic acknowledgement through the website that the entrant(s) have read and agree to the Terms and Conditions.

Submissions must address one of the following Challenges: 

  1. Youth Employment
  2. Financial Inclusion
  3. Food security
  • Submission Requirements
  1. Submissions must be in English.
  2. Submission must: a) be original; b) be solely owned by Applicant, who represents that no other party has any rights or interest, whether known or unknown; and c) not violate the Intellectual Property or privacy rights of other parties. Intellectual property rights of submitted Applications will be owned by the Applicants. AIMS-NEI disclaims any liability for infringements or other violations of intellectual property rights based on claims of ownership by Applicant. Applicant by entering the BD4D Innovation Challenge agrees to hold harmless and indemnify AIMS-NEI against any third party claims.
  3. Once a Submission is done, the Applicant cannot make any changes or alterations to the Submission until the judging is complete.
  4. All winning Submissions may be linked to AIMS-NEI’s website. By submitting a solution, you grant AIMS-NEI a non-exclusive, one-year, royalty-free right to use for promotion, public display, informational, educational or awareness purposes your solution. AIMS-NEI may at its sole discretion, decide not to expose any solution on its website.

Judging Criteria and Process 

A. Applications will be judged on the following Judging Criteria:
  1. Relevance to challenge focus areas (20%)
  2. Innovativeness (20%)
  3. Practicality of use, impact and potential for scale (20%)
  4. Technical feasibility (20%)
  5. Team (background, capabilities) (20%)

B. Screening and Judging Process

  1. Submissions will initially be screened by a Technical Committee that will verify that the applicant meets the Eligibility criteria and Submission Requirements.
  2. All Submissions that pass the Technical Committee screening will be judged by an AIMS-NEI Internal Panel to select finalist Applications based on the Judging Criteria.
  3. Finalist Applications will be invited to pitch at the Final Challenge Competition and judged by a Finalist Judging Panel based on the judging criteria to select those solutions to be awarded recognition.


Submission Terms and Conditions

The terms and conditions will be presented as the final question on the Submission form and Applicants will be required to check a box indicating that they agree to the terms and conditions. 

  • I acknowledge that all information provided to register for this challenge is true and correct. 
  • I am submitting to the BD4D Innovation Challenge only non-confidential and public domain materials.
  • I acknowledge that I am the sole author and owner of all rights, title and interest (including intellectual property) subsisting in my entry. 
  • I am authorized to submit this application to the BD4D Innovation Challenge and indemnify all Challenge participants, partners and organizers from any and all claims related to my intellectual property.
  • I retain full rights over respective intellectual property. 
  • I grant the BD4D Innovation Challenge organizers and partners the right to share and distribute my submission materials for review purposes and for the marketing and promotion of the Challenge. 
  • I understand the eligibility and submission requirements and attest that I meet all requirements listed.
  • I agree that AIMS-NEI and its appointed partners will determine participation eligibility, declare winners (including but not limited to in the event of a tie), and award prizes in its sole and absolute discretion. I agree that such decisions are final and are not subject to review or reconsideration.
  • I understand that in the unlikely event that Challenge organizers alter the Terms and Conditions, all applicants will be informed in writing.

Frequently Asked Questions