The Microsoft Innovative Schools Pitch Competition: Funding Transformative Ideas in Education

If you have been following along with our coverage of the Microsoft in Education Global Forum in Barcelona, you may have already read about The Microsoft Innovative Schools Pitch Competition.  This competition was the first challenge of its kind at the Global Forum, asking principals and headmasters to share their visions for how — with extra funding and support — they would transform schools worldwide.  Modeled after the television showShark Tank, six finalists were chosen from dozens of great projects to bring their ideas to an esteemed panel of judges. The winners received a share of $50,000, awarded by Microsoft, to implement their ideas.  

Additionally, thanks to the British Council’s agreement to host the projects on Microsoft YouthSpark, all of the finalists and winners will also have their projects listed onYouthSpark on GlobalGiving, where they will have a chance to crowd-source even more funding. 

The level of competition was incredible, and the level of hard work was apparent in all of the finalists’ projects.

But three projects really stood out, and I am thrilled to announce the winners from The Pitch Competition finale. I am also thrilled that I was able to sit down with Jonathan Bishop from Broadclyst Primary School (UK),Jörg Müller from Schloss Neubeuern (Germany) and Ronald Ddungu Gayaza High School (Uganda) to talk about the competition, how they motivated their students, where their ideas came from and what they plan to do next.

We are extremely proud of the winners, as well as the finalists.  Here’s more information, along with links to learn more about how you can donate money to fund these projects:

The Pitch Competition Winners:

Broadclyst Primary School (UK) – $25,000 awarded, fully funded

  • Idea for School Pitch: This is a global enterprise challenge, where students from schools around the world connect to run an international company. These international companies, each with a different product, compete to become the most successful company globally with cross-school and cross-country collaboration.
  • Why they were chosen: This project gives students awareness of cultural diversities, an understanding of world markets and currencies along with the core skills of communication, collaboration, teamwork and problem solving. It will bring together students from many countries to work on one global challenge.
  • What they say about their project: “This global challenge will promote social interaction within teams and across countries and require children to solve problems, share ideas, communicate effectively and through the use of mobile devices and Office 365 encourage anywhere, anytime learning, both at home and at school for all involved.”   

Gayaza High School (Uganda) – $15,000 awarded ($29,000 to go)

  • Idea for School Pitch: Students support local entrepreneurs and help with marketing activities for their enterprises, as well as increase collaboration and best practices among the community by creating an online library page with links to videos showing the production processes of small-scale local enterprises in Uganda.     
  • Why they were chosen: This project empowers students through a school-wide curriculum to not only prepare themselves for a successful future, but also to help their community prosper as a whole where their skills are needed and welcome.
  • What they say about their project: “Youth today are being encouraged to be job creators and not job seekers. This project will provide lifelong learning and we anticipate that the students will be qualified and inspired to begin their own enterprises or manage ICT marketing activities within any given organization.”  

Schloss Neubeuern (Germany) – $10,000 ($15,000 to go)

  • Idea for School Pitch: Students, together with their teachers, create a company to produce learning videos for their own school and curriculum, with the long‐term goal of making them available to other schools and teachers. The students produce the videos from scripts they receive from their teachers, and also write their own scripts.
  • Why they were chosen: This project empowers students and teachers to work together to transform learning school-wide, and create a more engaging curriculum catering to student preference and learning styles.
  •  What they say about their project: “The whole idea of the inverted (“flipped”) classroom approach hinges on a vast increase in self-directed and inquiry-based learning, while at the same time promoting collaborative learning in true-to-life projects.” See even more about their project here:

While the three winning projects were awarded funds through the competition, Broadclyst is the only school project that is currently fully-funded. Each project still needs money (including the other three finalist projects), so please consider giving to help get those initiatives off the ground. You can do so by clicking on their links (above) or going directly to YouthSpark on GlobalGiving. We will continue to update you on their progress, including this great news: one finalist school – St. John’s from Chile – was offered more funding immediately after the competition by Dallas Brooks Primary school. Congratulations!

There is nothing more inspiring than seeing motivated and passionate students and teachers working together to transform education. This work is powerful, and it has the power to transform the world.


This entry was posted in 1:1 Learning, 21st century skills, Beyond the Classroom, Building Teacher Capacity, Change Management and Culture of Innovation, Entrepreneurship, External Videos, Information, Leadership and Strategic Innovation. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *