The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation will host Youth Co:Lab, a program supporting youth-led social innovation and entrepreneurship, in Japan again this year!

We’re calling for innovative business ideas with an aim to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021.

To further support the success of young social entrepreneurs, the third Social Innovation Challenge in Japan will welcome application from high school students for the first time. Come join the network of innovators in Asia and the Pacific and get a chance to develop your business ideas.

  1. What is Youth Co:Lab?
    Co-created in 2017 by UNDP and the Citi Foundation, Youth Co:Lab aims to empower and invest in youth, to accelerate the implementation of the SDGs through leadership, social innovation and entrepreneurship.
    Youth Co:Lab projects have been implemented in 25 countries and territories across the Asia-Pacific region and the initiative has benefitted over 75,000 young social entrepreneurs and helped launch or accelerate more than 1,000 social enterprises.
  2. What is Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021?
    Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021 is a business idea contest where selected teams will pitch and showcase their SDG-focused business models and ideas to a panel of esteemed judges. The individuals and teams who passed the screening process will pitch their solutions at the “Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021.” Winners from the Japan contest will have the opportunity to join the Springboard Programme and the top teams who participated in the Springboard programme will be able to showcase their businesses during the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit which will take place in Spring 2022.
  3. Springboard Programme:
    The regional springboard programme is a follow up programme that provides a showcasing platform for young social entrepreneurs from over 25 countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region, who are winners of the national challenges of the countries of origin. The programme consists of mini-exercises to brush up business ideas and provides mentoring and communication support from UNDP in the Asia-Pacific region. We will also provide support in preparation of presentations in English.
  4. Youth Co:Lab Asia-Pacific Summit:
    The Asia-Pacific Summit, planned for the Spring of 2022, will bring together over 1,000 delegates, including hundreds of youth, partners and government officials from 25 countries and territories, to exchange ideas, knowledge and experiences, to influence policy initiatives on youth entrepreneurship and social innovation. You can see summary reports from the online summit held in 2021 here.
  5. Social Innovation Challenge Process and Schedule:
    1st Screening
    • 14 July (Wed): Applications open
    • 4 Oct (Mon) Noon: Applications close
    • End of Oct: Announcement of the results of the 1st screening (paper application)
    2nd Screening/Final Pitch
    • Early Nov: Submission deadline for the 2nd screening (pitch videos)/Announcements of finalists for the Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021
    • 25 Nov (Thu): Finalists present their business plans at the Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021. Announcement of the award winners.
    Accelerator Programme & the Asia-Pacific Summit
    • Mid-January 2022: Commencement of the Springboard Programme
    • Spring 2022: The Youth Co:Lab Asia-Pacific Summit
  6. Application Requirements:
    1. You must be older than 15 (equivalent to High School Student) and younger than 35 years old on 14 July 2021
      (Those who were born between 15 July 1986 and 1 April 2006 )
    2. Japanese national, or a resident of Japan who has lived in Japan for more than 3 years
    3. You have a business plan that is either in an idea stage, preparation stage, or in operation for less than three years.
    • *Application and final presentation at the Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021 can be done either in English or Japanese. Springboard Programme as well as Youth Co:Lab Asia-Pacific Summit will be held in English.
    • *Application can be submitted as an individual or in a team. If you are applying as a team, the lead representative of the team must meet the above eligibility requirements.
  7. Judging Criteria:
    1. SDG contribution: Impacts on society and environment
    2. Business idea: innovative approaches of the solution
    3. Business model: Feasibility and sustainability of the business model
    4. Passion and vision as an entrepreneur
    • *Since the Springboard programme and Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit will be held only in English, we will consider your skill and willingness to communicate in an English-speaking environment for the selection of participants to the Springboard programme and the Asia-Pacific Summit.
  8. How to Apply:
    Please prepare and send your application in either English or Japanese (either in Word or PDF under 20MB) event.japan@undp.org by the deadline. Please download application form from below link;
    Application form in English
    Application form in Japanese
    [1st screening] We will inform the results of your application to all applicants regardless of the outcome.
    [2nd screening] We will inform the details of the 2nd screening (pitch videos) only to those who pass the 1st screening. We will inform the results of your 2nd application to all applicants.
  9. Prize:
    Awards for the Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021 include Youth Co:Lab Japan Excellence Award, Award for Regional Scalability Potential, Idea Award, Audience’s Choice Award, among others. All award-winners will have an opportunity to join the Springboard programme and receive mentoring sessions from Citi. The top teams who participated in the Springboard programme will be able to showcase their businesses during the Youth Co:Lab Regional Summit which will take place in spring 2022.
  10. “Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021” Judges:
    Experts in business, social entrepreneurship and international development will serve as judges for the Social Innovation Challenge Japan:
    • Mr. Daisuke Takatsuki, Director, Principal, CVC Asia Pacific Japan / Representative Director, Social Invest Partners
    • Ms. Ryoko Manabe, Managing Director, Endeavor Japan
    • Ms. Atsuko Suzuki, Senior Coordinator, NPO ETIC.
    • Mr. Takeo Kaneko, Chief Operating Officer, Banking, Capital Markets and Advisory, Citigroup Global Markets Japan Inc., Citibank, N.A., Tokyo Branch
    • Mr. Savinda Ranathunga, Regional Youth Project Manager, Governance and Peace Building Team, UNDP Bangkok Regional Hub
  11. Special Support:
    If you require any special support participating in the “Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021", please tell us the kind of support you require on the application form.

Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021 Orientation Session
We will hold an orientation session for those who are thinking to apply to the “Social Innovation Challenge Japan 2021”. We will give tips on filling out the application form and answer any questions you may have. This session is held in Japanese. To request for a briefing in English, please email event.japan@undp.org
Date: 19 August 2021 (Thu) 19:00 - 20:00
Place: Zoom
Max cap: 30 people
Participation fee: free
Registration from here

Co-organized by

UNDP Representation Office in Tokyo

Citi Foundation

Supported by
ETIC. (Entrepreneurial Training for Innovative Communities)
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Representation Office in Tokyo (Ms.Hiromi Amano, Youth Engagement Consultant)
Email: event.japan@undp.org

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