The next Challenge launches on October 27, 2020. Check back then for expanded eligibility and prize offerings.

$350,000 in Prizes

Calling Students and Recent Grads

How can your innovative technology solution solve the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems?


The Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2020 is a worldwide search for early stage technology-enabled solutions and services that can enable economic development and/or benefit society and/or the environment. This competition is open to individuals and teams of students or recent alumni from any college or university.

Register to Participate

You can participate as an individual, as part of a team, or as a business entity. Teams may have a maximum of 5 members. Individuals, or at least half of a team’s members, must be currently enrolled as students or have received a degree (undergraduate or graduate) after March 1, 2018. If you are registering as part of a team, your team leader will need to register first and then you can register using your email address. For detailed eligibility requirements, please visit our Rules page. Once you are ready, click here to register.

Prepare your Submission

There will be two distinct submission rounds.

Round one opens October 15, 2019 and closes January 17, 2020 at 5:00 pm PST. To prepare your submission you will need to complete an online questionnaire, which will cover the following topics:

  • Defining the problem you are solving
  • Explaining the solution, including:
    • Its benefits and how it uses IoT or digital technologies
    • How it is unique and will be taken to market
    • Risks associated with the solution
  • 90-second pitch video of team member(s) explaining the solution
  • Additional supporting documentation:
    • Contact information for faculty advisor
    • Proof of eligibility (student or degree status) 

Once you are ready, click here to register (or log in) and prepare your submission. 

Submit Your Solution

Once you’ve prepared and double-checked all your materials, have your team leader log onto the Challenge website here. You must upload all materials and submit them before January 17, 2020 at 5pm PT. Remember, you must click submit before the deadline in order for your entry to be considered. 

Please check your entry for completeness and ensure your video does not exceed 90-seconds. Also, do not use unlicensed images, music, or video content in your submission. 

Judges evaluate submissions and are looking for ideas that are especially innovative and clearly articulate the use of technology, feasibility, and scale of impact.

On March 11, 2020, Semi-Finalists will be invited via email to submit a more detailed proposal.

The round two application window opens March 11, 2020 at 10am PT and closes May 29, 2020 at 5pm PT. Finalists will be announced on July 7, 2020.

 In addition to the information provided in round one, the online questionnaire for semi-finalists will include the following sections:

  • Problem and solution summary explanation (up to 250 words, will be posted for public voting if chosen as finalist)
  • Detailed technical overview of solution
  • Dependencies
  • Timeline for the next 12-24 months
  • Addressable market
  • Financial model
  • Team bios

Be sure that you or your team leader logs in to the Challenge website before the  May 29, 2020 5pm PT deadline to double check all of the materials and click submit in order to be considered for the finalist round.

Be sure to check that your content meets the submission guidelines, which can be found here, or your entry will be disqualified. It's also important to check for completeness, appropriate content, video length, and unlicensed images, music, or video. If your expanded application is not submitted by the deadline, it will not be considered.

Vote and Promote

If you are a Finalist, we recommend that you share your participation in the Cisco Global Problem Solver Challenge 2020 with your supporters and invite them to vote for their favorite entries. Voting for the People’s Choice Award takes place from July 7 - July 31, 2020.

Celebrate the Winners

Once the submission period closes on May 29, 2020 our judges will begin evaluating the submissions, looking for solutions that are especially innovative and clearly articulate the use of technology, feasibility, and scale of impact. Winners (including the People’s Choice Award) will be announced on August 5, 2020!