Young Sohn

Last month, a group of 150 global leaders convened at the Tech for Good Summit in Paris to discuss how we can use technology to benefit society and build a more sustainable, equitable world.

During the Summit, we coalesced around a new model for innovation—one where we build products and deploy algorithms not because we can, but because we should. It’s a model that calls for channeling our industry’s wealth of resources and expertise into solutions to the world’s biggest challenges, from poverty and food insecurity to inequities in health outcomes and educational opportunities.

While the past several decades have seen much progress, they have also seen roadblocks and frustrations.

  • Around the world, more than 840 million people lack access to clean water. [1]
  • Chronic, noncommunicable diseases account for 70 percent of deaths across the globe. [2]
  • Global population growth is outpacing the world’s food supply, creating the need for a 70 percent
    increase in food production by 2050. [3]
  • By that time, two-thirds of the world’s population will live in urban areas, straining our
    infrastructure and environment. [4]
  • And our population is aging at a rapid pace: the number of people aged 60 or older is expected to
    double by 2050 and triple by 2100. [5]

The United Nations has identified 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to guide the world’s efforts to address these and other global challenges. And at last month’s Summit, every tech leader present agreed that technology will play a central role in helping us overcome them.

Today, data and AI are some of the most powerful tools humanity has ever seen. Already, they are radically transforming every industry—from healthcare to agriculture to transportation—and creating opportunities that we would have considered impossible just years ago. These tools have the potential to change the course of history: to make society safer, stronger, healthier, and more prosperous.

But to realize this potential, we have to fundamentally change the way we educate and train our workforce, identify and accelerate new ideas, and invest in startups designing meaningful innovations.  That’s what inspired us at Samsung, along with our partners at Arm, Cisco, Silicon Valley Bank, the University of California, and Zoom, to launch the Extreme Tech Challenge (XTC), which was announced at the VivaTech summit in Paris.

XTC is a global startup competition that will give innovators and entrepreneurs the chance to change the world for the better. Over the next year, we will assess submissions from problem-solvers working to address climate change, world hunger, inequities in health outcomes, and the many other challenges the UN SDGs seek to overcome. At VivaTech 2020, we will announce the XTC finalists, who will be eligible for up to $10 million in funding to bring their world-changing ideas to life.

But the challenge doesn’t end there. In fact, it’s the beginning of a new partnership. After we announce the first round of XTC finalists, Samsung and our partners will work alongside these entrepreneurs to provide the resources, support, and guidance they need to scale their innovations.In other words, we want to turn great ideas into lasting change—and we’re asking everyday innovators from around the world to bring their great ideas to the table.  This competition represents Samsung’s commitment not just to Tech for Good, but to open collaboration. We recognize that no single person, company, or country can solve the world’s problems alone.

To change the world, we need to work together. And we need to begin now.