The webpage for our new How to Change the World Recovery Europe programmes is now live!

Please check there for up-to-date information, as this page will not be updated regularly. (This page represents our #EUvsVirus Winning submission from April 2020.)

Please start by watching our short video above. (Other materials in the carousel above will be referenced sequentially in the text below.)

From Heart Breaking Crisis to Unprecedented Opportunity (Problem Statement)

As countries start shifting past crisis response and towards restarting our disrupted economies and societies, there is an unprecedented opportunity to rebuild in ways that are more sustainable and inclusive. Failure to do this only invites more crises in the decades ahead driven by well-known challenges ranging from climate change to growing inequality. We should not, we cannot, we must not squander the chance to rebuild better.

Key to launching our economic and social recoveries on trajectories that are as sustainable, inclusive and empowering as possible is mobilising the tens of thousands of talented young European professionals, recent graduates and students who remain passionate about tackling sustainability and inequality — but whose opportunities to work, network, ideate and learn have been stalled by Covid-19.

Our Contribution (Impact)

Within six months we will empower at least 10,000 currently stalled young European professionals and students by:

  1. delivering our well-established How to Change the World Learning Journey for 10,000 participants through a new fully virtual collaborative learning environment (please see image (1) in the carousel above); and

  2. building partnership pathways to impact that enable the best ideas and teams from our programmes to develop, implement, scale and make substantive contributions to rebuilding our economies and societies.

In line with our organisational purpose and values, we feel strongly that our biggest impact will be achieved through virtualizing and scaling our programmes to deliver to the stalled cohort of recent graduates, students and under/unemployed early-career professionals. By enabling and empowering them, we will help set our economic and social recovery on a trajectory for a better future.

Our Foundations

The experiential learning pedagogy underpinning our How to Change the World Learning Journey was built at University College London (UCL)recognised as one of the top global universities — where several of our core team remain active faculty. Since its creation in 2014, the original How to Change the World programme at UCL has become the required capstone course for over 800 students every year across more than a dozen accredited engineering, computer science and management degrees.

To date, our Learning Journey has been delivered through in-person programmes to over 6,000 students and professionals, spanning four continents. To deliver those programmes, we have engaged several hundred challenge, innovation and implementation partner organisations. We have delivered the programme on behalf of the UK Royal Academy of Engineering, the US National Academy of Engineering, the Global Solutions Summit, the Schmidt Science Fellowship, and many others.

(Image (2) in the carousel above provides a visual summary of our established in-person programmes.)

Before Covid-19, our non-profit spin-out from UCL was focused on meeting the rapidly expanding international demand for our in-person programmes. In response to the current crisis, we are pivoting to deliver virtual versions of our Learning Journey aimed expressly at helping our economies and societies rebuild more sustainably and inclusively.

During #EUvsVirus

Our team entered #EUvsVirus with two aims:

  1. to translate our strong foundation delivering world-class experiential education in-person into virtual environments; and
  2. to develop (non-profit) business models that would be fit for delivering the maximum possible positive impact in the EU during the current crisis.

We have been inspired by how the generous support of superb mentors and peers enabled us to make so much progress in such a short period of time!

From Physical to Virtual Experiential Collaboration & Learning: Programme & Prototype

Over the course of the weekend, we made two major strides towards launching a fully-virtual How to Change the World programme. In fact, these strides were so significant that we are now confident we can run our first fully-virtual programme for ~250 participants within five weeks (by the end of May).

The first major stride was the advanced development of a programme pedagogy and two potential schedules that are suitable for the unique conditions of a fully-virtual programme. This is summarised schematically in image (3) of the carousel above.

The second major stride was demonstrating our prototype Virtual Learning & Collaboration Environment (showcased in image (4) in the carousel above; also briefly demonstrated in our pitch video between 1.11-1.17) built using an MVP tech stack of existing and widely-available tools (summarised in image (5) in the carousel above). In addition, we have been able to sketch a path from the currently deployable MVP tech stack to a more integrated tech stack that will enable higher functionality (particularly semantic engine support for team formation and expert-team matching processes) within the next several months.

From Virtual Programme to Impact at Scale

Over the course of the Hackathon, our team collectively engaged with several dozen experts, including 17 in-depth conversations with mentors highly experienced with the landscape of EU institutions, businesses and innovation processes. We have committed to following up with an even wider range of organisations and individuals following the Hackathon.

These discussions proved invaluable for advancing both (a) the framework for enabling good ideas and teams from our virtual programmes with pathways to impact at scale (represented in image (6) in the above carousel), and (b) viable models for funding each aspect of that framework.

Our Framework Explained (in brief)

As shown in image (6) in the above carousel, our demonstrated expertise is in delivering experiential learning programmes that mobilise diverse teams to devise new ideas for tackling wicked societal challenges, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals. In the past, we have been satisfied with our programmes being transformative and empowering educational journeys, while relying on serendipitous opportunities for participants to take their ideas forward to implementation. Today, that is not enough. Our societies and economies need immediate intra- and entrepreneurial action to put them on a trajectory of a rapid, sustainable and inclusive recovery.

During #EUvsVirus we were able to work with business and innovation leaders to define three financially-viable and symbiotic models for how to build an effective pan-sectoral network (represented by the yellow box in image (6) above) that would ensure the best ideas and teams from our programmes have clear opportunities to further develop and scale to real impact. These include: direct links to specific national and EU governmental programmes (and anticipated stimulus); accelerator and impact fund models with potential anchor partners; and an institutional membership-based model that shares opportunities and benefits among larger industrial networks.

The support and buy-in from senior individuals for our approach has been incredible. Just one example is this video of explicit support very kindly provided by one senior individual, Willem Bulthuis with whom we spoke.

But What About the Money?


Based on our experience delivering in-person programmes to over 6,000 participants in different parts of the world, we have an exceptionally good handle on the delivery costs associated with a programme. The transfer to a virtual environment changes very little (except eliminating travel from the budget), as most of our costs relate to the teaching team we provide (with a 1:10 educator:participant ratio).

For delivery alone -- i.e. excluding significant development costs for our virtual Learning & Collaboration Environment -- we are confident we can provide a one week (six day) virtual How to Change the World Programme for €400 per participant, and we could possibly push that lower. Please note, this is not our normal market rate, where institutional overheads and investment for growth factored in -- that would be around €1200 per participant -- but in response to this crisis, our aim is to maximise the impact we can have as quickly as possible.

Learning & Collaboration Environment Development

The MVP tech stack discussed above can be used to deliver a minimum viable educational experience for the first programme within those delivery costs. However, further development of our Learning & Collaboration Environment would require either separate funding and/or institutional partnerships to provide that development for us. (Issues of IPR are on our mind in all instances, and requires further examination; there was not time to fully explore IPR over the weekend.)

Estimating specific € value for the required funding or institutional 'in-kind' support based on a prototype environment rapidly developed in under 48hrs... is risky at best. While we are not comfortable assigning specific numbers at this moment, we can say two things: significant prepayment of a large volume (several thousand) registrations could provide method for iterative in-house development; and we have identified several potential keystone partners this weekend who could offer in-kind support that would accelerate that development at reduced costs.

Funding the Pathways to Impact for the Best Ideas and Teams

While we made significant progress on defining the three financially-viable and symbiotic models identified above, 48 hours over a weekend is not a reasonable period in which to develop such complex models beyond initial frameworks. The detailed structure and pathways to execution of these models requires both additional research and discussion with the potential partner organisations. We are extremely grateful, however, to have identified several potential keystone partners via the amazing mentors with whom we engaged during the Hackathon. We look very forward to continuing those conversations.

After the Crisis

To reiterate: Our laser focus for the next six to twelve months must be mobilising the currently stalled cohort of passionate and talented young professionals and students who are prepared to devote their time to rebuilding our societies and economies more sustainably and inclusively. But this crisis will pass, and we need a plan for that too.

At some point we aim to return to delivering large-scale in-person events, but we see those as being significantly enhanced by the digital uplift the creation of our virtual programme is providing. Equally, we see continuing delivery of the virtual programmes for much larger audiences than we would normally consider in a purely physical environment! Perhaps most interestingly, we see the potential for hybrid programmes that bring smaller physical gatherings in multiple distributed locations together virtually, providing the benefit of both approaches.

Finally, we have been deeply gratified by the introductions several experts in this Hackathon have already made to leaders of their corporate training programmes. This is a demand that will certainly provide further opportunities for scaling and impact as our delivery capacity grows.

Please Engage With Us!

Whether you are an expert in EU innovation systems who can help our alumni develop and scale the impact of their ideas, or a young professional interested in attending our programme, we would love to hear from you!

Please reach out to us at

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