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Challenging the Next Generation of STEM Professionals

Yesterday, Cisco and Junior Achievement of Northern California hosted Cisco’s inaugural Social Innovation Challenge on our San Jose campus. Fifty high school students from nearby Independence High School and Sequoia High School worked together in small groups to create and pitch ways to connect the unconnected.

I watched as excited students presented ideas to improve the patient/physician relationship and make the experience at the San Francisco 49er’s new stadium easier for fans. Their collaboration led them to brainstorm creative solutions that use technology in new and unanticipated ways. The winning team, “Epidemask,” pitched the concept of a blue-chip enabled gel facemask that prevents the spread of viruses while also communicating to authorities which regions need specific vaccinations.

The winning team, "Epidemask", applied technology to create social change in the healthcare field

The winning team, “Epidemask,” applied technology to create social change in the healthcare field

It’s always fun to see students pour their energy into something like this. At the Social Innovation Challenge, we get the chance to watch kids organize new ideas and stand up in front of a panel of judges in a competitive environment. This format is great because it teaches them what the social problems are and how they can use technology and connections to solve them.

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Cisco France Asks Students and Young Entrepreneurs to “Change the World” with Networked Connections

Last Wednesday, October 1, Cisco France announced its second annual Le Défi Cisco – or The Cisco Challenge. This competition is created and led by Cisco volunteers and encourages college students and young entrepreneurs to develop technology projects that address social or environmental issues. All entries must harness the Internet of Everything – the connections among people, process, data, and things.

Building on the success of the first competition, where the winning team of Cisco Networking Academy students from the city of Nancy designed a connected white stick for the blind, Cisco France decided to multiply the competition’s impact by redesigning the format.

This year, 2 parallel contests will run: one for students still in school, and the other for young entrepreneurs with an already-matured project. After the closing of applications on January 4, 2015, a jury will select 6 finalist teams. Finalists will each receive support from Cisco mentors who will help them mature their projects and prototype the solutions for the final jury. Both winners will be awarded with a €15,000 cash prize, Cisco mentoring, and equipment to create their new business.

Le Defi Cisco

The two winning projects will be incubated by SenseCube, a start-up accelerator dedicated to social entrepreneurs, and a new partner for this second edition. It’s a perfect match with “Le Défi Cisco” concept as its philosophy is to support entrepreneurs in mixing digital technologies and community support to create and implement high-impact solutions on a global scale.

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How Mobile Phones Are Driving Business and Social Impact

If you look around and think everyone has a mobile phone, you’re right. There are almost as many mobile subscriptions (6.8 billion) as there are people in the world (7.1 billion), according to the International Telecommunication Union.

Even in developing countries, the mobile penetration rate (the number of mobile phone numbers within a specific population) is 89 percent. Between 2011 to 2016, the number of mobile phones in Africa is expected to double from 500 million to 1 billion–nearly the entire population. But how are we all using our mobile phones?

What we’re learning is that a mobile phone can transform someone’s life, especially for underserved populations and/or those living in remote locations. They enable financial inclusion for the 1.8 billion people with access to a phone but not a bank. They provide farmers with information on market prices and weather reports, and they link micro and small entrepreneurs to markets and potential buyers. And, they provide mothers with important information to keep themselves and their children healthy. All this relevant and actionable information is getting to people who aren’t able to access this type of information via the Internet or in person.

Belinda and her child never fell sick during and after her pregnancy, thanks to messages that she received that told her about proper nutrition and exclusive breastfeeding. Photo courtesy Grameen Foundation

Belinda and her child never fell sick during and after her pregnancy, thanks to messages that she received that told her about proper nutrition and exclusive breastfeeding. Photo courtesy Grameen Foundation

But we’re also learning that organizations — large, for-profit corporations and small, nonprofit social enterprises alike — are using mobile technology to operate better and smarter. Organizations are using mobile phones to gather real-time data that help them make informed business decisions and that yield social impact.

Let me introduce you to two organizations that have developed innovative technology tools that are driving this double bottom line business and social impact.

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Business Innovation Meets Social Transformation at the United Nations

May 28, 2013 at 4:23 pm PST

Cisco Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is one of the sponsors of the Social Innovation Summit (SIS) at the United Nations in New York City this week. The summit connects global leaders in the corporate, investment, government, and nonprofit sectors and helps them collaborate to multiply the positive impact they can make in the world. The agenda includes presentations and discussions on key strategies and best practices for creating social transformation.

Cisco’s approach to creating positive social change has long involved collaboration with our partners and peers. By combining the power of human and technology networks, Cisco multiplies impact and helps accomplish extraordinary things, even under the most difficult circumstances.

 

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Work and Learning in a Digital World

Across the globe, business, government, and social structures are buffeted by sweeping generational change, technological innovation, and the emergence of new economic development models.

Although these forces differ by geography, they provide opportunities for social innovation, community engagement, economic growth, sustainability, and country transformation.

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