Future Skills Innovation Challenge 2020!


We hope to be surprised by the ideas we receive. But to give you a bit of steer on the sorts of solutions we’re excited by: 

Within the topic of Financial Capability, we love innovations such as: 

  • Digital solutions which empower people with the knowledge and skills to manage their money effectively. 
  • Innovations that change people’s behaviours and enable them to be financially healthy. 

Within the topic of Employability, we love innovations such as: 

  • Entrepreneurs who focus on developing innovative, high-quality future skills training that will skill, reskill and upskill people. 
  • Ideas that help people foster the mindset of continuous learning – especially in industries that are most vulnerable to the effects of automation. 



Partnership and Challenge Page Launches – 16th December, 2019 

Entries Open – 6th January, 2020

Entry Phase – 6th January to 28th February, 2020

Screening  & Peer Review – 2nd March  to 27th March, 2020

Semi-finalists Announced  –  27th March, 2020

Refining – 30th March  – 6th April, 2020

Shortlisting  – 7th April – 24th April, 2020

Finalists Announced – 27th April, 2020

Judges Panel and Due Diligence – 28th April to 15th May, 2020

Winners announcement – Late May, 2020


All applicants will: 

  • Have the opportunity to receive peer feedback via the prize online platform, including the opportunity to view, review and connect with other applicants of the Future Skills Challenge. 
  • Receive feedback from Ashoka and/or HSBC representatives.   

Up to 50 semi-finalists will:   

  • Have an opportunity to refine entries and incorporate feedback received in the screening phase  Receive additional feedback from experts from HSBC & Ashoka  
  • Be referred as semi-finalists in the announcement communications  
  • Access a call for semi-finalists to connect with peers  

There will be 12 challenges winners, across 3 categories: 

-Most scalable solutions-

  • Awarded to solutions with proven models who have potential to begin scaling their impact.
  • Winners receive and up to $25k cash prize plus support & mentoring from HSBC and Ashoka on how to scale and raise additional finance. 

-Most innovative solutions-

  • Awarded to solutions with an innovative use of technology. 
  • Winners receive up to $20k cash prize plus support & mentoring to help develop their innovation.  

-Best early-stage ideas-

  • Awarded to solutions with highly innovative ideas which are still at an early-stage.  
  • Winners receive up to $12.5k cash prize plus support & mentoring to develop their idea. 


We will assess all applications based on 4 criteria:


Leading entries will demonstrate how they are making a positive social impact under one of the following themes associated with Future Skills: Financial capability, digital reskilling and upskilling, “human” reskilling, and job creation.   

Competitive applicants will be able to provide qualitative and quantitative metrics used to track progress. Initiatives should also describe the innovation’s potential impact on the future and how they are addressing the root cause of the problem.   


Leading entries will have an original and creative approach, which might involve inventing something new, a novel use of digital technology, or applying existing approaches in new ways or to a new context. We are particularly interested in models that use fresh approaches to spark mindset shifts that lead to widespread change.   

Financial and Operational Sustainability

Applicants must have realistic plans for how to continue to create impact in the long-term through mobilizing resources such as funding, financing, teams, partnerships, or support networks. Entries should describe not only how they currently finance their work, but also how they plan to finance it in the future. 

Changemaking Activation

The initiative’s strategy includes an approach that empowers and multiplies changemakers, through inspiring stories, mobilizing and sharing resources or other approaches that lead to an increased number of changemakers in the world.


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