IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Competition 2022

Deadline: 20th of July, 2022

The IEE Competition is organized by Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). The IEEE’s Future Networks Initiative (FNI) has worked to promote a competition to find and honor creative concepts and early-stage initiatives that have the potential to link the disconnected in light of this urgent and growing need. By keeping creative people or groups, IEEE may increase public awareness of the digital divide and promote fresh business initiatives to link underserved communities to the internet.

The competition Tracks

There are two primary tracks in the contest:

  1. Proof-of-Concept track: This category is for people or organizations who have previously proven their invention through a simple proof-of-concept implementation or pilot program and can provide early results or successful field rollout (s). A description of the basic design and the suggested functionality, together with the implementation of particular elements, should be included in the application for this category. It can also involve a (small-scale) deployment or exercise to demonstrate the idea’s viability in addition to execution. The competition is not searching for well-known apps with a sizable user base or particularly cutting-edge efforts; it should be mentioned.
  2. Concept-Only track: These are people or organizations with innovative concepts currently “on paper” and have simulation or analytical findings that show promise for the CTU objective of inexpensively connecting disconnected communities. Compared to the POC track, this track’s prizes will be lesser.  FNI also acknowledges that despite the availability of access, not everyone uses the internet and that other barriers require innovation to be addressed. Three subcategories within each track have been established by the Connecting the Unconnected Challenge to address these issues: submissions focused on innovative Technology Applications (TA) to improve broadband access or otherwise enable connectivity; suggestions focused on innovative Business Models (BM) that result in increased affordability, and submissions focused on innovative Programs that increase Demand.


  • Winners in the various tracks will receive cash prizes; there will be no individual awards.
  • Greater than $10,000. Prizes for proof-of-concept will be worth more than those for concepts alone.
  • Awardees will have possibilities for significant exposure from IEEE Future Networks through this initiative.
  • Winners will be invited to participate in a mentoring program and present their solutions at a global (virtual) IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Summit, which will also feature keynote speeches, panels, and other presentations from influential figures in business, politics, and non-profit organizations.

Eligibility Criteria

  • The competition is open to participants from anywhere in the world, including private sector businesses or startups, nonprofits and community organizations, university projects, students, government organizations, and any other type of organization or individual participants.
  • Participants must be at least 18 years old to participate.
  • Applications are strongly welcomed by participants representing underprivileged groups in emerging/developing countries and the Global South.

Competition Rules

  • The tournament will take place in three stages.
  1. Participants will submit a brief first proposal (Phase 1) that contains a 500-word abstract detailing their approach.
  2. Those that progress to Phase 2 will be required to submit a second, more extensive online application, to which additional supporting materials may be included.
  3. A chosen number of candidates will be asked to present to their Selection Committee in a closed-door, live/virtual session with Question & Answer during Phase 3 (final).
  • Winners will be honored at an awards ceremony during the IEEE Connecting the Unconnected Summit in November 2022 and will be asked to present their ideas to the summit audience.
  • Applicants will have the opportunity during Phase 2 to have their contribution examined by the IEEE Standards Association for future standardization possibilities within their Rural Communication program. This review is entirely optional and does not influence the competition.
  • All finalists will be asked to submit their proposals to the selection committee at a live/virtual session in early October 2022.
  • Before the final ranking is decided, all candidates will be subjected to a due diligence exercise in October to validate submitted information.
  • All winners/awardees will be asked to prepare a video of their approach, which IEEE will make available. They do not anticipate any expense burden for this movie, and IEEE will give video development guidelines.
  • All winners/awardees must be available to speak at the CTU Summit in November 2022.
  • All winners/awardees must provide updated information about their solution one year after the award date. However, IEEE will not undertake any more audits.
  • The publishing of selected submissions in IEEE journals may be encouraged or invited.
  • Submissions chosen may additionally be encouraged or asked to participate in IEEE Standards Association projects.
  • The proposals will be evaluated using various technical and societal impact criteria.

Click here to apply

Oyin Olufayo

Oyin Olufayo is a Sustainable Development Goals Advocate. A recent graduate of The School of Politics, Policy, and Governance (SPPG) She is a Technical Writer, Political Writer, and a Content Writer. Her passion for sustainable development goals has been implemented by creating tangible solutions. She has featured in grassroots initiatives like TedX, World Literacy Foundation, Spur Nation Media, FRCN, Naija Law and etc. spreading the impact of Sustainable education, and also facilitated numerous events regarding SDGs.

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