Tech for Good: Innovating for a Better World
Earlier this month, in partnership with MIT Solve and The Tech Interactive, eBay co-hosted the MIT Solve challenge design workshop in San Jose, California, bringing together Bay Area technologists and innovators to brainstorm the most pressing global challenges around sustainability and economic prosperity.
MIT Solve is an incubator for social innovation that connects entrepreneurs across the world to solve challenges in learning, health, sustainability and economic prosperity. Ahead of MIT Solve unveiling the global issues it will tackle in February 2020, this workshop was held to generate ideas that would ultimately help shape next year’s challenges.
“We’re very grateful to have eBay as a member of the community,” said Bruna Braga, head of partnerships for MIT Solve. “We’re always looking for partners like us who are interested in collaboration. Hopefully from this workshop today, people who attended will be inspired to submit solutions or serve as mentors to teams in our program.”
The event opened with a panel featuring speakers from eBay, MIT Solve and The Tech Interactive, all of whom iterated on the idea of how we can develop innovations in tech to create rapid change for good. Workshop attendees divided into groups for the afternoon event and began developing technology ideas around sustainability and economic prosperity. From broad concepts, they developed specific ideas and outcomes for Bay Area communities and identified barriers to those solutions.
eBay Senior Manager of Marketplace Diversity Dominique Hollins sat in a group that brainstormed concepts around the idea of economic prosperity for the Bay Area. Her team developed ideas around economic equity, including the creation of a council to eliminate systemic economic inequality and address needs along the economic sale process.
“MIT Solve served as a great think thank for innovation and collaboration among game changers,” she said. “It was quite the opportunity to be in the room where it happens.”
Beyond shaping MIT Solve’s challenges for 2020, the workshop can inspire tech employees to develop socially conscious ideas to implement at their own companies, said Robinson Piramuthu, eBay’s chief scientist for computer vision.
For example, at eBay, he said the Innovation Programs allow employees to develop and pitch their ideas uninterrupted for a week each year. One notable outcome is the launch of Gifts that Give Back, allowing charities to create symbolic gift listings.
Additionally, through programs like Retail Revival, eBay empowers people by creating economic opportunity for small business owners around the world. By accelerating an inclusive economy while providing a better way to shop, eBay aspires to make extraordinary things possible for each other.
“All of us have the same goal to solve long-term problems for future generations,” Robinson said. “This is a place where we can take time off, think and share ideas. It’s a jumpstart for us to think about these broader ideas after we leave this workshop.”