Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge

Transformative change can happen only by tapping into the expertise of a broad pool of thinkers and doers. As part of our commitment to building the field of data science for social impact, in 2020 launched the $10 million Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge.

The Challenge called for breakthrough ideas that harness the power of data science to help people and communities thrive, especially in the wake of COVID-19’s health and economic impact. In early 2021, we awarded funding and technical assistance to eight exemplary awardees from a pool of over 1,200 applications.

The Inclusive Growth and Recovery Challenge Awardees Event

Challenge Summary

The Challenge launched in 2020, in recognition that any strong and growing economy requires an inclusive and resilient approach to growth to ensure that talent, innovation, and our communities can become stronger in times of stress. We aimed to catalyze innovative and scalable solutions to help individuals and communities thrive, all the while building resilience to withstand future challenges.

The Challenge took place during the COVID-19 global pandemic, which affected our society in profound ways and required new and innovative approaches. Beyond the impact on public health, the COVID-19 crisis had severe economic repercussions. Supply chains were disrupted, businesses suffered losses, workers faced unemployment, and too many people lacked the savings or credit to weather an economic downturn.

We sought inclusive growth proposals from and for anywhere in the world. The Challenge looked in particular for proposals in the categories listed below – but also welcomed other proposals for using data science to advance shared prosperity, and help ensure an inclusive recovery.


Leave no worker behind

Low wage workers are among the most vulnerable in today’s economy. In times of economic stress, current trends toward automation and job displacement could accelerate. How can we use data science to help workers remain secure in precarious times? Can data insights predict trends  in the labor market and connect and prepare workers for the jobs of tomorrow?


Leave no entrepreneur behind

Unleashing the spirit of grassroots entrepreneurs can help communities rebound by creating much-needed jobs and growing local economies. Yet, in times of recession, the flow of credit to micro and small businesses tends to slow down. How can data science enable microentrepreneurs to gain access to capital? How can data science help us identify micro and small businesses with the potential to grow? How can data insights rethink creditworthiness and unlock capital for high potential business owners?


Leave no place behind

An economic recession will hit some places harder than others. As public and private sector investments flow into cities and towns to stimulate the economy, how can leaders use data-driven insights to make the right decisions to ensure economic security in underserved communities? How can data and analytics help connect neighborhoods to the resources and networks they need to access opportunity,  including quality education, affordable housing and childcare, decent jobs, and transportation? We are seeking applications of data science that can fuel economic growth and empower communities to thrive without further exacerbating inequality.

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Challenge Judges

Meet the team of experts who will review this year’s submissions.

Chief Transformation Officer

MTN Nigeria

William A. Ackman Professor of Economics/ Director of Opportunity Insights

Harvard University

Founder and Executive Director


Deputy Director,
Financial Services for the Poor

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Chief Information Officer and Director of Technology

World Food Programme

Founder and Executive Director


Senior Head, UK Portfolio

National Lottery Community Fund

Principal Scientist

“AI for Earth”. Microsoft

Project Lead, Society and Innovation

World Economic Forum


The Rockefeller Foundation

United Nations Undersecretary General and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)

Managing Director

Census Open Innovation Labs

Sponsors & Partners

The new is a fiscally sponsored project of New Venture Fund, a 501(c)(3) public charity, launched by



Interested in partnering with us? Let’s connect.

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