21st Century Fox’s National Geographic recently announced the winners of Chasing Genius, a digital community launched in June with GSK Consumer Healthcare. Nat Geo and GSK crowdsourced ideas from their audiences and chose three critical areas where transformational ideas could mobilize change and help advance the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals: making our planet more sustainable, improving global health, and kickstarting our ability to feed 9 billion people in the world. Nat Geo’s Emmy-nominated show, “Genius”, was a catalyst for the project’s creation—directed by Academy Award winners Brian Grazer and Ron Howard, the show chronicles Albert Einstein’s life through stories about his friends, lovers, enemies, and fellow scientific luminaries.
Chasing Genius evolved around the idea that anyone, anywhere, has the potential for genius, and the engagement platform aimed to nurture that genius through the power of storytelling. Over the last few months, Nat Geo engaged its online community—with 350 million social media followers, it is the largest and most activated non-celebrity brand in the world—with videos, social and digital storytelling, live events, editorial content, and more. The Chasing Genius community grew to 30,000 members, nearly 3,000 videos were submitting addressing the three critical areas mentioned above, and over 230 million impressions and 3.2 million social conversations were generated online.
Meet the winners of Chasing Genius and learn about their innovative and viable ideas for change:
- Asta Skocir saw the need to reduce pollution in the textile industry and created AlgiKnit, which offers an alternative circular economy approach to textile production rooted in ecological intelligence, natural dye practices and biomaterials innovation.
- Kevin White aims to help impoverished people living in the developing world who have impaired vision obtain eyeglasses. His program, USee, provides affordable, transportable, easy-to-use vision correction kits designed to suit the needs of the 2.5 billion people for whom glasses are necessary yet inaccessible.
- Richard Trimble has developed a compact, solar-powered device that threshes and winnows pearl millet, aiming to help women in sub-Saharan Africa move away from the current method of threshing millet—an arduous task that is so intensive that it only allows them to prepare one meal per day.
- John Monnat was selected by the Chasing Genius community as the “People’s Choice” winner for his idea help alleviate world hunger by providing farmers better access to data and science to improve crop production. His group, Cheruvu, is a data-driven sustainable enterprise that provides site-specific advice to farmers in developing countries.
Each of the winners will be awarded $25,000, along with exposure and access to resources through Nat Geo. The Chasing Genius Council, which helped choose three winners, included Susan Goldberg, Editorial Director of National Geographic Partners and editor in chief of National Geographic Magazine; Erika Bergman, submarine pilot; Caleb Harper, Principal Investigator and Director of the Open Agriculture (Open Ag) Initiative at the MIT Media Lab; Johanna Kellett, Research and Development Scientist in New Product Development at GSK Consumer Healthcare; Jay Shetty, storyteller, filmmaker and former monk; and Albert Yu-Min-Lin, research scientist and engineer focused on technology-enabled exploration and crowdsourcing.