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Innovation Challenge:

Exploring the Extremes

This Challenge is


Exploring the Extremes

Key Dates

Challenge Begins

September 5, 2022

Challenge Ends

November 4, 2022

Winners Announced

November 23, 2022

The Academy and NEOM invite you to find out how far you’ll go to Explore the Extremes. Whether it’s space travel or the deep ocean, students in the challenge will adopt an explorer’s mindset and put their curiosity to work.

Students ages 13-17 from eligible countries* are invited to participate in a 9-week Open Innovation Challenge. During the challenge, students can form teams with peers and have access to research guidance from mentors on Launchpad. The students then work together to develop an innovative, research-driven solution to address the challenge.

The Challenge

“Exploration is curiosity put into action.”

—Don Walsh, oceanographer, explorer, and one half of the two-person team to first descend into the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench

Walsh’s quote epitomizes the Explorer’s Mindset - a unique approach to problem-solving powered by curiosity and a relentless pursuit of opportunity, balanced by resilience, preparedness and tolerance for ambiguity. This challenge begs the question, what are the current limits or extremes of human exploration, ability, knowledge and understanding? And - more importantly - how can we use an Explorer’s Mindset to continue pushing those limits even farther? Choose an extreme to explore and identify a limit to push or a problem to solve at the edge of that extreme. Then work with your team to push and solve. How far will your curiosity take you?

In the challenge, we encourage you to demonstrate the values embodied by NEOM and let these serve as a catalyst to guide you in achieving your ambitious vision: care, curiosity, passion, respect and diversity.

How It Works

Once accepted, students will be invited to join Launchpad, the Academy’s own virtual collaboration platform, where they will work together to design challenge solutions in self-selected teams of up to 6 members. Each team has the opportunity to work with a STEM professional who serves as a mentor for the challenge. Mentors are experienced and highly motivated STEM experts and industry leaders from around the world. Students will also gain access to a series of curated learning resources that help advance research and virtual 21st-century skills.

Who can sign up to participate?

  • Students: Age 13-17 who are enrolled in secondary school (or equivalent) from eligible countries.*
  • All participants must have access to a computer, tablet, or mobile device and a reliable internet connection. All submitted materials must be in English.
  • *Eligible countries: Please see Challenge Rules (

About NEOM


NEOM is an accelerator of human progress and a vision of what a New Future might look like. It is a region in northwest Saudi Arabia on the Red Sea being built from the ground up as a living laboratory – a place where entrepreneurship will chart the course for this New Future. It will be a destination and a home for people who dream big and want to be part of building a new model for exceptional livability, creating thriving businesses and reinventing environmental conservation.

NEOM will include hyperconnected, cognitive towns and cities, ports and enterprise zones, research centers, sports and entertainment venues and tourist destinations. As a hub for innovation, entrepreneurs, business leaders and companies will come to research, incubate and commercialize new technologies and enterprises in groundbreaking ways. Residents of NEOM will embody an international ethos and embrace a culture of exploration, risk-taking and diversity.