Equal Rating Innovation Challenge in One Minute!

Announcing panel of judges for Mozilla’s Equal Rating Innovation Challenge


Mozilla is delighted to announce the esteemed judges for the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge:

  • Rocio Fonseca (Chile), Executive Director of Start-Up Chile
  • Omobola Johnson (Nigeria), Honorary Chair of the Alliance for Affordable Internet and Partner of TLcom Capital LLP
  • Nikhil Pahwa (India), Founder at MediaNama and Co-founder of savetheinternet.in
  • Marlon Parker (South Africa), Founder of Reconstructed Living Labs

These four leaders will join Mitchell Baker (USA), Executive Chairwoman of Mozilla, on the judging panel for the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge. The judges will be bringing their wealth of industry experience and long-standing expertise from various positions in policy, entrepreneurship, and consulting in the private and public sector to assess the challenge submissions.

“Mozilla seeks to find novel solutions to connect all people to the open Internet so they can realize the full potential of this globally shared resource”, said Katharina Borchert, Chief Innovation Officer at Mozilla and one of the initiators of the Challenge. “We’re both thrilled and proud to have gathered such a great roster of judges for the Innovation Challenge – it’s a testament to the global scope of the initiative. Each one of these leaders has already contributed in many ways to tackle the broader challenge of connecting the unconnected and it is an honour to have these global heavyweights in our panel.”

The Equal Rating Innovation Challenge will support promising solutions through expert mentorship and funding of US$250,000 in prize monies split into three categories: Best Overall (with a key focus on scalability), Best Overall Runner-up, and Most Novel Solution (based on experimentation with a potential high reward).

The judges will score submissions according to the degree by which they meet the following attributes:

  • 25pts: Scalability
  • 20pts: Focus on user experience
  • 15pts: Differentiation
  • 10pts: Ability to be quickly deployed into the market (within 9-12 months)
  • 10pts: Potential of the team
  • 10pts: Community voting results

The deadline for submission is 6 January 2017. On 17 January, the judges will announce five semifinalists. Those semifinalists will be provided advice and mentorship from Mozilla experts in topics such as policy, business, engineering, and design to hone their solution. The semifinalists will take part in a Demo Day on 9 March 2017 in New York City to pitch their solutions to the judges. The public will then be invited to vote for their favorite solution online during a community voting period from 10–16 March, and the challenge winners will be announced on 29 March 2017.

View the judges here.

Expert Panel Discussion in New Delhi Explores Local Barriers and Challenges to Open Internet Access


On November 18 in New Delhi, Mozilla partnered with the Software Freedom Law Centre (SFLC.in.) to host a conversation about connecting millions more people in India to the free and open Internet.The panel gathered experts in policy, law, and venture capital, and included Jochai Ben-Avie, Senior Global Policy Manager at Mozilla, Mishi Choudhary, Executive Director at SFLC.in, Mahesh Murthy, Founder of Pinstorm, co-Founder at Seedfund, as well as Smriti Parsheera, Consultant at National Institute of Public Finance and Policy. The group had a lively conversation and offered differentiated perspectives around these central questions:

  • What have been core developments after India’s ban on differential pricing earlier this year?
  • What are the biggest challenges to bringing all of India online and what areas are ripe for innovation?
  • What values are important to guide innovation in connecting the unconnected?
  • In which ways can digital literacy initiatives complement efforts focusing on infrastructure and affordability barriers in India?
  • How can more initiatives like the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge foster innovative thinking, broaden the set of possible solutions and enable the transition from ideas to scalable market solutions?

“While the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India has recognized that some business models are too harmful to competition and users to be allowed in the market, the very real challenge of bringing all of the Internet to all people remains. To advance this goal, Mozilla’s ‘Equal Rating Innovation Challenge’ is designed to catalyze new thinking and innovation in providing affordable access and cultivating digital literacy,” Mozilla’s Jochai Ben-Avie said.

“The debate around Internet openness and access has been playing out in India like nowhere else, and Equal Rating models can help to bring the Internet to all in line with TRAI’s regulation. Building on Mozilla’s strong commitment to net neutrality, the central tenet of Equal Rating models is that they treat all content equally, and that users are able to choose the content they want to see based on the quality of that content and not the commercial relationships of a given provider,” he added.


Mahesh Murthy called Mozilla’s challenge a real “game changer” which can help bring the next 300 million Indians online. He added: “I was part of the team that helped fight Free Basics – because it simply gave too much power to one company. But I was always cognizant of the need for the less privileged to get free Internet access. We want companies to come up with solutions that offer free net access, without the restrictions – and with the freedom for a user to visit any site she chooses. I’m glad to see that Equal Rating offers exactly that: plan to offer a certain amount of free and unfettered Internet access to all users, without restrictions or bias.”

Mishi Choudhary commended our initiative during the discussion, “Connecting the unconnected while propagating the values of an open Internet is what we all must work for. Mozilla’s challenge is the correct way to solve the problem of access. I hope for more such initiatives to be rolled out and we can address the challenge innovatively to educate every being on earth through an open Internet.”

“India has shown the world that it can protect the openness of Internet in the TRAI ruling earlier this year,” Smriti Parsheera said. “The global community has taken note of India as a country where even before any reference framework on net neutrality existed, the regulator took a view on ‘zero rating practices’ and ‘discriminatory pricing practices’, leading to a rollback of Free Basics,” she added.

We’re very pleased and excited about the positive reactions and fruitful conversations we had in New Delhi. And we keep going! On November 30, we will host an event in Santiago de Chile together with Start-Up Chile, a program created by the Chilean Government that seeks to attract early-stage, high-potential entrepreneurs to bootstrap their startups using Chile as a platform to go global. If you want to register, please RSVP.

We’re looking forward to meeting you there!

Webinar: Innovation Challenge Mechanics

Today we hosted an interactive webinar diving into the “mechanics” of the innovation challenge — basically, how the innovation challenge structure works. We covered four topics, and then opened the floor to questions. You can watch the video here, or read the summary of key points!

See the webinar here.

Topic 1: Our Mission – Mozilla’s mission to ensure the Internet is a global public resource, open and accessible to all. Our work in Equal Rating includes ongoing in-field research, policy engagement, and now this public challenge to spur innovation. We hope this innovation challenge will invite people to find new ways to provide affordable access to the unconnected as well as stimulate new conversations, connections, and experiments.

Topic 2: EqualRating.com – We highlighted key resources from the EqualRating.com website – specifically the Overview and Key Facts pages, which provide salient reports and articles describing the current barriers to Internet adoption. These resources also offer stimulating statistics to help drive new ways to think about this topic.

Topic 3: Proposals – The types of solutions we expect to spur through this challenge may include anything from consumer products and mobile services, to new business models and infrastructure proposals. The innovation challenge award money may support a team in building their entire solution, or it might help with initial research as they pursue future grants or proposals. We intentionally have left the call for proposals broad so that we can inspire a broad and creative` response!

Topic 4: Submission Form – We have a one-page submission form that is designed to be straight-forward and fairly short. After you enter information about the team, there are about 10 questions about the proposal that align with the Criteria listed on the website. You can also view the scoring matrix that the Judges will use to make their determination.

Good luck to all, and mark your calendar to get your submission in by January 6!

If you have any questions, please email us at equalrating@mozilla.com. We’re here to help!


Submissions Open - Let the Challenge Begin

We are excited to announce that submissions for the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge are now open!

From now on until January 6th you will be able to submit your proposal to connect more people to the full diversity of the open Internet. Solutions can range from consumer products and mobile service, to new business model and infrastructure proposals.

Central to the submission is a description of your solution, the intended user experience for your target audience, and the roadmap to the future. The submission form has a dozen questions and should be easy to navigate.


We are always happy to answer any questions you have at equalrating@mozilla.com. In addition, we invite you to watch an interactive webinar about the Innovation Challenge Mechanics on November 7th, which will be publicly streamed at Air Mozilla and recorded for viewing later too.

To get some inspiration, you can see a few examples of what is currently on the market in the Current Solutions section of the site. One solution is BRCK which was designed in Narobi, Kenya and is able to support up to 40 devices and remain functioning for 8 hours when power is out, as well as managing changes between Ethernet, Wifi, and 3G. Another example is Project Isizwe which collaborates with local, provincial, and national government to provide Wi-Fi to low-income communities. In order to pursue their purpose of education, economic development, and social inclusion.

Let the Challenge begin!