National Geographic Announces Winners Of CHASING GENIUS

In June 2017, National Geographic, as part of a partnership with GSK Consumer Healthcare, announced the launch of CHASING GENIUS, a groundbreaking digital initiative built on the premise that transformational ideas can come from anywhere, and from anyone. Today National Geographic is proud to announce the winners of the CHASING GENIUS challenge. They are everyday people who have provided real proposed solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

Over the summer, the CHASING GENIUS community grew to 30,000 members, and submitted more than 2800 one-minute videos each proposing ideas to address one of three pressing global issues — Sustainable Planet, Feeding Nine Billion, and Global Health. The concept of transformational ideas and CHASING GENIUS reverberated across social, digital and broadcast media and generated over 225 million impressions, 19 million video views, and 3 million social conversations.

During the submissions phase, the community was highly engaged, sharing ideas, offering feedback, asking questions, and flagging favorites. The ideas were then evaluated on four criteria to find the most inspiring, innovative, creative, and viable ideas which were named our finalists. Members of the Chasing Genius Council helped choose three winning ideas and the CHASING GENIUS community chose the People’s Choice winner. Each winner will receive a $25,000 prize to further their idea.

The four winners are:

  • Asta Skocir for her idea on how to improve the planet’s sustainability. She saw the need to reduce pollution in the textile industry by bringing sustainable, bio-based textile alternatives into the 21st Century footwear and apparel industries. Her program, AlgiKnit, aims to offer an alternative circular economy approach to textile production rooted in ecological intelligence, natural dye practices, and biomaterials innovation. AlgiKnit aims to operate in a closed-loop product lifecycle, utilizing materials with a significantly lower environmental footprint than conventional agricultural or petroleum-based textiles (e.g. cotton and polyester). Learn more about Asta’s idea HERE.
  • Kevin White for his idea on how to improve global health. He saw the need to help impoverished people living in the developing world who have impaired vision obtain eyeglasses. His program, USee, provides affordable, transportable, easy-to-use vision correction kits designed to suit the needs of the 2.5 billion people for whom glasses are necessary yet inaccessible. With USee, anyone, with less than a day of training, can a) measure refractive error, b) determine the lenses needed to correct vision, and c) snap the lenses into attractive frames. The entire process takes just minutes and does not require an eye-care professional. Learn more about Kevin’s idea HERE.
  • Richard Trimble for his vision for alleviating world hunger. Richard has developed a compact, solar powered device that threshes and winnows pearl millet. The device aims to help women in sub-Saharan Africa move away from the current method of threshing millet by repeatedly pounding using mortar and pestle, an arduous task that is so intensive that it only allows them to prepare one meal per day, leaving millions undernourished. Richard’s solution will enable women to produce more meals per day without the tremendous toll on their bodies. The plan is to build 50 threshers to distribute for feedback prior to mass production. Learn more about Richard’s idea HERE.
  • John Monnat was chosen as the “People’s Choice” winner, as voted by the CHASING GENIUS community. His idea aims to help alleviate world hunger by providing farmers better access to data and science to improve crop production. His group Cheruvu is a data-driven sustainable enterprise that provides site-specific advice to farmers in developing countries. Currently, they work with cotton farmers, combining climate data, soil tests, and farming practices to help farmers make smarter agricultural decisions that reduce input costs and risk while increasing yields. Their plan is to leverage machine learning algorithms and anonymized data to reduce costs for farmers while conveying a quality product that helps farmers do more with less. Learn more about John’s idea HERE.

For the launch CHASING GENIUS Challenge participants were inspired to submit their ideas one of the three following critical issues:

  • Sustainable Planet: How can we reduce our impact on the planet?
  • Global Health: How can we help people live healthier lives?
  • Feeding 9 Billion: How will we feed a planet fast approaching 9 billion people?

“We are blown away by and really proud of the scope of ideas submitted, as well as in the engagement of the community both on and off our platforms,” said Brendan Ripp, executive vice president, brand partnerships, National Geographic. “We are the number one brand for social engagement and CHASING GENIUS brings to life the power of our community in a meaningful way for us, and our partners. We look forward to announcing the next challenge, and continuing to stay true to our brand with platforms that enable change in the world.”

“We are excited to see the high level of consumer engagement with National Geographic’s Chasing Genius platform,” said Theresa Agnew, chief marketing officer U.S. at GSK Consumer Healthcare. “It’s inspiring to witness the passion that the entrants had for providing real solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges. We look forward to seeing these genius ideas become reality.”

Council members who played a role in reviewing submissions include Erika Bergman, submarine pilot; Susan Goldberg, Editorial Director of National Geographic Partners and editor in chief of National Geographic Magazine; Caleb Harper, Principal Investigator and Director of the Open Agriculture (Open Ag) Initiative at the MIT Media Lab; Johanna Kellett, Research and Development Scientist in New Product Development at GSK Consumer Healthcare; Jay Shetty, storyteller, filmmaker and former monk; and Albert Yu-Min-Lin, research scientist and engineer focused on technology-enabled exploration and crowdsourcing. Select council members have been chosen for their ability to make the impossible possible and for their visions of making the world a better place.

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