IEEE Foundation

2019 | IEEE Empower a Billion Lives

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Baltimore, Maryland, USA

2019 | IEEE Empower a Billion Lives

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Introducing IEEE Empower a Billion Lives

IEEE Empower a Billion Lives is a global competition aimed at fostering innovation to develop solutions to electricity access. Solutions are expected to be scalable, regionally relevant, holistic, and leverage 21st century technologies with exponentially declining prices.

Energy access is a global challenge

There are 3 billion people in the world living in energy poverty, and over 1 billion people without any access to electricity. So far, only 1.8 million people have gained tier 2 energy access by using off-grid electric services.

To address energy poverty, more of the same may not be the answer. New strategies are needed to scale energy access solutions 1000x.

A different type of competition

The IEEE Empower a Billion Lives competition is agnostic to energy sources, technologies, and business models. Solutions will be evaluated on both their technical innovation and business viability to rapidly and sustainably scale to one billion customers.

The competition is completely open to all, including student groups, small- and medium-sized companies, research labs, international corporations, and non-profit organizations.

The competition is organized by IEEE, an all-volunteer organization whose goal is to foster technological innovation and excellence for the benefit of humanity.


  • Online round

    May 1, 2018 to Aug 31, 2018

    Registered teams present their solution concept and a three-minute pitch video.

  • Regional rounds

    Nov 2018 to Jan 2019

    Qualified teams demonstrate their solution prototypes and pitch their business ideas at a regional round nearest to them (see map).

  • Field test

    Qualified teams complete a 3 month long field pilot in a region of their choosing.

  • Global final

    Sep 28, 2019 to Oct 1, 2019

    IEEE ECCE Conference

    Qualified teams demonstrate the ruggedized prototypes, field test results, and final business plan.

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