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Innovation Challenge:

Clifford Chance STEM Challenge in Kigali

This Challenge is


Key Dates

Challenge Begins:

August 4, 2021

Challenge Ends:

August 25, 2021

Winners Announced:

September 2021

Clifford Chance has partnered with the New York Academy of Sciences to launch innovation challenges in Kigali, Rwanda. The goal of this three-year program is to strengthen Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education opportunities and enhance STEM workforce development in Kigali. We are launching a special mini challenge this summer to engage students in creating a social media campaign to support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Rwanda.

Students ages 13-17 in Kigali, Rwanda are invited to compete in a 20-day innovation challenge from August 4th to August 20th, 2021. During the challenge, students can form teams with peers and have access to research guidance from mentors via the Academy’s own virtual collaboration platform, Launchpad. The students then work together to develop an innovative, research-driven solution to address the challenge.

The Challenge

A number of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines have been developed and distributed. While most developed countries are well-advanced in rolling out vaccinations, the process is much slower in developing countries. In Rwanda, the government set a target of vaccinating 30% of the population by the end of 2021 and 60% by the end of 2022. With vaccinations underway, it is crucial to inform the public of the scientific facts and encourage vaccine uptakes when available.


The winners of the challenge will be accepted into The Junior Academy or 1000 Girls 1000 Future, and become Young Member of the New York Academy of Sciences.

How it Works

Once signed up, students will be invited to join Launchpad, an online collaboration platform where students work together to design challenge solutions in self-selected teams of up to 6 members. Each team will be paired 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) in Kigali, Republic of Rwanda.
  • Mentors: STEM professionals, graduate students, and postdocs who are committed to mentoring the next generation innovators.
  • All participants must have access to a computer and a reliable internet connection and must be able to communicate clearly in English.


The program is made possible through the support of Clifford Chance as a part of the Cornerstone initiative. Cornerstone is Clifford Chance's flagship global pro bono and community investment initiative in Rwanda. The initiative is made up of a series of projects that are designed to help these communities overcome the barriers inhibiting improvements in well-being.