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Singularity University opens competition in Miami to address sea-level rise

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 Hector Gabino El Nuevo Herald

According to research on Virginia Key by the University of Miami’s Department of Atmospheric Sciences, sea levels on Miami’s coast have risen 3.7 inches since 1996, and the rate of increase has been accelerating. If the rate of sea rise over the last five years holds steady for the next 50 years – and indications are it could rise faster – high tide levels in Miami would go up over five feet, leading to high risks of flooding and saltwater intrusion.

With the clock ticking, Silicon Valley’s Singularity University, a teaching organization and accelerator, launched its Global Impact Competition in Miami on Monday calling on innovators to find solutions for South Florida’s sea-level rise by using technology, The competition is supported by $70,000 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Two winners will receive full tuition to Singularity University’s 10-week Graduate Studies Program in Mountain View, Calif., this summer where they will work in teams with participants from around the world. The competition is open to all U.S. residents, but ideas must focus on of sea-level rise in South Florida. Applications can be submitted online until April 17. Shortlisted applicants will be invited to pitch their ideas during the closing event hosted in Miami. To apply, visit global.singularityu.org/miami/gic/.

"The Global Impact Competition offers Miami tech innovators and entrepreneurs a unique opportunity — inviting them to address a local challenge on an international stage," said Matt Haggman, Knight Foundation program director for Miami. "The hope is that the competition will help forge new connections between Miami entrepreneurs and their counterparts across the globe, while helping to build the city’s network of innovators and problem-solvers so they can work together to address pressing community concerns."

Singularity’s Global Impact Competitions help identify promising innovators and connect them with mentorship opportunities and training, and after the program participants return to their communities and continue work to implement their ideas. "Sea-level rise poses a real threat to the future of Miami," said Rob Nail, associate founder and CEO of Singularity University. "We look forward to hearing from the innovators who are working to address this problem with technology and to connecting them with changemakers everywhere."

This program is one of a number of initiatives launched recently that call for innovators to solve South Florida’s environmental challenges. Last week, the nonprofit CappSci and the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science teamed up to offer a $1 million prize program to attract environmental and health solutions; one of its first challenges is coral reef restoration. Last fall, the Everglades Foundation announced a $10 million prize for a solution to the chronic problem of phosphorous pollution that has sickened the Everglades and coastal estuaries.

Follow Nancy Dahlberg on Twitter @ndahlberg.

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