Toyota, Net Impact Team Up to Promote Social Equity Through Mobility Solutions
Net Impact, Toyota (No. 34 on the DiversityInc Top 50 Companies list) and the Toyota Mobility Foundation announced the second year of the Next Generation Mobility Challenge, a competition to inspire millennials to develop solutions to meet critical mobility needs through design thinking. This year's challenges will focus on tackling issues related to social equity and inclusion.
Net Impact is a global community of students and professionals who aspire to be effective drivers of social and environmental change. Toyota is again executing the challenge through the Toyota Mobility Foundation (TMF), which was established in August 2014 to enable more people to go more places.
"Mobility is a powerful equalizer. Together with Net Impact and students across the country, we are working to tackle issues of social equity through new mobility solutions. We're bringing our know-how to campuses across the country and, we always say, when good ideas are shared, great things happen," said Latondra Newton, Chief Social Innovation Officer, Toyota and Chief Program Officer, Toyota Mobility Foundation. "Year after year, we are amazed by the creativity of millennials. We can't wait to see what great ideas come out of the second year of the Challenge."
"Our goal is to inspire young people to frame social issues as opportunities to create shared business and social value. Working with the Toyota Mobility Foundation allows us to bring to life the close link between business innovation and creating social good," said Liz Maw, CEO of Net Impact. "Today's young people are passionate about improving their world, and the Challenge is a perfect opportunity for students to build practical design skills while tackling meaningful questions."
Throughout the Fall of 2016 and Spring of 2017, local Net Impact chapters around the country will host Challenge events at university campuses. During the events, multidisciplinary teams of students will work together to develop solutions through a design thinking process. Transportation, engineering and design experts from Toyota, as well as local relevant experts, will offer feedback and a real-world perspective.
Solutions will be judged based on the clarity of their goals, project design, feasibility, creativity, and social impact. The top team from each event, as well as three "wild card" teams, will enter the semi-finalist round and submit a pitch digitally to Toyota, TMF, and Net Impact judges. The top three teams will be invited to a "boot camp" to hone their pitch and develop other key business skills. The finalist teams will participate in a virtual pitch-off.
Judges will determine the winners at the end of the 2016-2017 academic school year. The winning team will be offered summer internships through Net Impact and Toyota. Additionally, the winning idea may be considered for funding from the Toyota Mobility Foundation to develop the mobility solution as a foundation project.
During the Challenge's inaugural year, nearly 670 students from 60 colleges and universities across the country participated in fifteen campus events, pitching 154 ideas. The winning team pitched a concept for an app that would help people who are blind or visually impaired navigate their surroundings with greater confidence. Members of the winning team received internship placements to support Toyota's Partner Robot team. The interns blogged about their internship experience; read their posts here, here and here. During their internship they supported efforts to advance the freedom of mobility for all as well as to delve into a deeper understanding of the mobility needs of the blind community and develop the design of their concept.
The winning team of last year's Challenge, along with the two finalist teams, will attend the 2016 Net Impact Conference in Philadelphia, November 3-5, courtesy of Toyota. Toyota is the title sponsor of the Net Impact Conference for the third time.
For the 2016-2017 Challenge, Net Impact will host the Challenge at 15 campuses, including:
- University of California, Los Angeles, CA
- Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA
- University of Colorado, Boulder, CO
- Texas A&M University, College Station, TX
- California College of the Arts, Oakland, CA
- Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
- Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
- Northwestern University, Chicago, IL
- New York University, New York, NY
- University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA
- University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
- University of Texas, Austin, TX
- Howard University, Washington, DC
- Villanova University, Philadelphia, PA
- Boston University, Boston, MA