Equal Rating Innovation Challenge Publicly Launched!

On Thursday, October 13, Mozilla’s Chief Innovation Officer Katharina Borchert launched our Equal Rating Innovation Challenge at Quartz’s The Next Billion conference in San Francisco. Quartz brought together over 300 thought leaders, business experts, and tech innovators from around the world to discuss the economic, social, and technological implications for providing full access to the Internet to the next billion people and beyond.


Katharina explained how the innovation challenge is anchored in Mozilla’s mission to ensure the Internet remains a global public resource that is open and accessible to all. Mozilla believes in the power of innovation at the edges and of people on the ground being well-suited to address the challenges that they face. Katharina pointed out the power of collaboration when it comes to tackling global challenges. She also invited the audience to share thoughts and to partner with Mozilla. “This challenge should be only the beginning. We want it to be a starting point for sustainable solutions, inspiring conversations and community partnerships that will last after our challenge has completed.”


Connecting the unconnected = Access + Openness + Inclusion + Innovation at the edges

This week, we were inspired and honored to participate in Global Connect – a two-day multi-stakeholder workshop in Washington D.C., organized by IEEE, Internet Society, People Centered Internet, and the World Bank Group. The goal of session was to find innovative technical solutions for addressing the challenges of providing Internet access to 1.5 billion people by 2020.


Our Executive Chairwoman Mitchell Baker gave a rousing lightening talk and challenged the audience to imagine the ideal the human experience for getting online, and to examine how we can create product solutions and business models that take into account the myriad challenges of affordability, digital literacy, and relevant content. Mitchell made clear that connecting the unconnected must go beyond just infrastructure, “it is a combination of access, openness, and inclusion … After a region comes online, or the fiber is lit up, the cell towers are there, and the village is connected, what is the actual human experience? How much openness is there? How much opportunity to build, to explore, and eventually to create new things?” The backbone for her speech (and for all of Mozilla) is an unyielding belief that we must bring people online to the full richness of the open Internet.


Mitchell gave a preview of the mission of the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge: to inspire new ideas and grow new communities of problem-solvers through this open call for solutions. (Incidentally, Mitchell had proposed this open innovation approach in the first Global Connect meeting in April 2016.)

We are energized by Mitchell’s call to action and hope you are too. There is no silver bullet to bringing everyone online. Instead, it will take a diverse set of actors working together, and with the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge, we’re extending an invitation for you to join us in tackling this great challenge of our time!

EqualRating.com – your central resource

Welcome to EqualRating.com! We’ve created this website to be a central resource for those new to the topic of connecting the unconnected so they can learn about the most salient issues, and to provide a single launchpad for those furthering their knowledge and expertise.

On the site, you will find the 3 key frameworks that are used to deeply understand barriers to Internet adoption. You can read important statistics that humanize this issue, and see how connectivity influences gender dynamics, education, economics, and myriad other social issues. The reports section provides a summary of the current debate and the analyses provide further texture and depth to the different positions.

We will augment this content with several webinars throughout the innovation challenge in order to provide an opportunity for dialogue and questions. (These will also be recorded and available for later viewing.) The current schedule follows. Please check back for more details!

7 Nov 2016
Webinar 1: Innovation Challenge mechanics

1 Dec 2016
Webinar 2: What is Equal Rating?

12 Dec 2016
Webinar 3: Understanding the current landscape

Introducing the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge

We are so energized about launching the Equal Rating Innovation Challenge as a way to accelerate innovation in connecting the unconnected. It’s our mission to grow the community of problem-solvers tackling this critical issue and ultimately solve this challenge. Thank you for joining us!

At Mozilla, we believe the Internet is most powerful when anyone–regardless of gender, income, or geography–can participate equally. However the digital divide is a clear and persistent reality for the more than 4 billion people who cannot avail of the social, economic, and civic benefits resulting from access to the open Internet.

In this Innovation Challenge, we are engaging entrepreneurs, designers, researchers, and innovators all over the world to propose creative and scalable solutions that cultivate digital literacy and provide affordable access to the full diversity of the open Internet. We plan to support these solutions through expert mentorship and funding of US$250,000 in prize monies.

As we work to inject new action-oriented thinking into the current debate, we need your help! Please spread the word by sharing this Innovation Challenge website with your networks, sending us important resources to publish on the site, joining the Discourse conversation, and submitting YOUR proposals to connect the unconnected!