Achieving the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda requires young people to be at the centre of the development agenda of a country and calls for their active engagement. This will be aninvestment in young people which will generate greater returns for sustainable human development. Young people will be provided with a platform and empowered to generate innovative solutions to development challenges through improved engagement and participation also in an Information communication technology (ICT) and digitally inclusive society.

Under the leadership of UNDP and the Ministry of Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Development and Foreign Employment and NYSC, together with the Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), National Youth Social Innovation Challenge will be implemented building on the programme in 2017 and was built on UNDP's existing youth social innovation challenge, HackaDev.

Outcomes of National Youth Social Innovation Challenge

Sustainable solutions for identified development challenges.
Community of youth created to continue the promotion of innovative solutions by youth.
Trigger and inspire further partnerships to advocate for social entrepreneurship.


Submit your social innovation idea or lend your expertise and begin your journey of innovating for sustainable human development


Do you have and innovative idea for a development problem of your choice?


Do you have an idea that solves identified thematic challenges presented by UN agencies and other organisations?


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Major Categories

  • National Youth Social Innovation Challenge in 2018, contains two major categories where young people can apply for the Sponsored Social Innovation Challenge and the Open Social Innovation Challenge.
  • In the sponsored challenge several areas of specific and thematic issues form couple of UN agencies are presented for application and teams can apply with a solution or an idea for those specific issues offered by the UN agency partners.
  • Under this process the winning teams get the opportunity to proceed their solutions and ideas further with the relevant UN agencies contribution.
  • On the other hand, the open challenge welcomes any of the development challenges addressed by the teams which can primarily be related to three Sustainable Development Goals and will receive seed funding and an attractive incubation programme at the end to develop their solutions into successful social enterprises.
  • Moreover, the individuals with diverse talents can also apply for the Open Challenge, to be matched with the teams in the event of demand for different expertise from teams.
  • These individuals will be matched to the teams accordingly during the pitching phase.

Ideation and Activation Phase

  • The ideation and Activation phase consists of island-wide programmes on problem understanding, idea generation, social innovation, technological innovations, entrepreneurship to inspire and educate the young people of Sri Lanka to find innovative solutions to development challenges.
  • One-day ideation programmes are conducted in all the districts of the country, targeting 2500 participants from university students, NYSC youth club membership, young entrepreneurs, school students, vocational trainees and other youth to change their mindset to become social innovators within the sustainable development agenda.

Call for Applications

  • The Public call for applications will open immediately after the challenges being introduced. The targeted Call for Applications will be open for 30 - 45 days initially following the ideation phase. Teams may submit applications (in English, Sinhala or Tamil) through the UNDP webpage to the online citizen engagement platform; Idea Board

Pitching and Matching Phase (Idea Audition)

  • This phase includes nine one-day programmmes at provincial level where the shortlisted ideas from each province following the public call for applications will pitch their idea (not a solution) in front of a panel where that idea will be examined for improvements.
  • The teams will have the opportunity to connect with expertise that their team is lacking and will have the to create a multi-disciplinary team. Then the 45 best ideas will be further shortlisted for the next phase.

Social Innovation Camp

  • There will be 3 thematically clustered Regional Social Innovation Camps based on the core SDGs mentioned above, at three different locations in the country. 15 best applications from all around the country, also ensuring geographical inclusivity will be considered for each Social Innovation Camp where one camp will be allocated to cater the sponsored challenge and the other two for open challenge. Therefore, altogether 45 teams are expected to be mentored, guided and equipped through the social innovation camps.
  • Hands on Mentoring
      1. By Problem Domain Experts on each theme
      2. On entrepreneurship
      3. On Business and Social Enterprise development
      4. On technology and Design
  • Includes Sessions on
      1. Validating Assumptions
      2. Deeper Understanding of the issue
      3. Presentation / Pitching Skills
      4. Team Building

National Dialogue

  • National Dialogue is a massive event which takes place in Colombo after finalizing with the 9 winning teams and it is a final gathering for a set of youth engagement programmes which have been taking place throughout the year. Selected 9 Best Teams will be offered for a three-day National Incubation Programme at this final event where award ceremonies are taken place for all the youth engagement programmes.
  • This three-day event will engage youth from all over the country to build a platform for the youth to get engaged in achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
  • Further mentoring for 9 teams
      1. Domain Expert Day
      2. Market Research and Competitor Analysis
      3. Value Proposition Creation
      4. Work Plan formulation and validation
      5. Project Management and Assigning Roles within the team
      6. Legal Support
      7. Seed Capital Management

Support to Further Development (Incubation and Seed Funding)

  • All 9 teams will be provided with a Seed Grant to further develop their prototypes where a consultancy entity will manage the disbursement of the seed grants.
  • Mentoring and guidance will be provided for a period of 6 months by a variety of experts from different industries.

Importance of National Youth Social Innovation Challenge

  • National Youth Social Innovation Challenge is a great opportunity and a wider platform to address the development challenges through youth engagement where it strengthens the social innovation eco-system where young people are at the centre of development solutions.
  • Through this platform sustainable solutions for identified development challenges are generated while providing great opportunities for the citizens to establish social entrepreneurship.
  • Moreover, the community is benefited hugely as an excessive result of identifying sustainable solutions for crucial social issues prevailing in the country.

Rules and Guidelines


  • Applications can be submitted via the official registration portal at lk.undp.org
  • Submissions can be made in either English, Sinhala or Tamil
  • Please remain alert if there is a notification for the deadline being extended

Team Composition

  • A team with unmatched expertise may consist of a maximum of 5 members (minimum of 3 members)
  • A team with matched expertise can have a maximum of 6 members following a match
  • Teams must consist of a minimum of one female team member
  • All the team members should be under 29 years of age at the closing date for applications.
  • Teams with better gender balance will be given preference within the selection process
  • To encourage diversity, teams with young people with disabilities, teams with ethnic diversity will be given preference within the selection process

Matching Process

  • Teams can connect with individuals signed up on the application portal directly
  • Team leader mobile number and e-mail will be visible for signed up individuals on the matching dashboard
  • Teams will also get the chance to connect with individuals and take part in matching process
  • Unmatched teams and individuals will be matched by the organizers following the consent of the individuals and teams
  • Agreement to match and be part of a team are entirely up to the respective teams and individuals
  • Once matched, the individual(s) will go through the challenge process as a part of the team
  • The individuals signed up have done so on voluntary basis
  • Teams can connect with a minimum of 1 and a maximum of 3 individuals, if the total team does not exceed 6 people
  • The contact details of individuals and teams who need to be matched, will be shared with the required Teams and individuals for the purpose of matching with needed expertise.

Pitching Phase(Idea Audition)

  • The short listed teams must attend their designated programme unless for unavoidable circumstances
  • Teams will get a maximum of 5 minutes to further explain the idea that they have applied with/solution you are proposing
  • Maximum of 3 minutes Q and A with the judges
  • This phase is not to present a prototype
  • Teams are not expected to do a presentation for the audition
  • Teams will be further short listed for the social innovation campus

Social Innovation Camp

  • Selected Teams can start designing and creating the basic structure of the project from the day of announcement of selection but are not allowed to bring a finalized product to the competition
  • All the teams need to demonstrate a working prototype at the end of the 5th day of the social innovation camp
  • Teams are free to use any technology, platform and tools they wish to
  • The Social Innovation camp will be a 5-day residential, all-expense paid experience
  • One Social Innovation Camps will be dedicated for the sponsored development challenges
  • Two Social Innovation Camps will be for the open social enterprise challenge
  • 15 teams each will be selected for each social innovation camp


  • Open social enterprise challenge the ideas and the solutions generated will be owned by the teams
  • Sponsored development challenges the solutions generated are ones developed for the UN agencies and the ownership will remain with the teams or will be transferred to the UN agency for a compensation (bought over) following the decision of the UN agency

Evaluation Process and Criteria

  • Teams will be evaluated based on the following criteria.
      1) The solution should be relevant to the problem specified
      2) Creativity and Out of the box thinking
      3) Simplicity and potential for scaling up and implementation
      4) Impact
      5) Design
  • Teams will be selected for each phase by a multi-stakeholder screening panel who will review the submissions based on the above criteria
  • The decisions of the screening panel and the panel of Judges will be final


  • Open challenge: A total of 9 ideas will be selected for the social enterprise incubation programme and will be eligible for seed funding
  • Sponsored Challenge: One solution each from the sponsored development challenges will be chosen for further development