Negawatt is a global competition empowering communities to innovate around local energy issues. Using a multi-phase open innovation methodology, this initiative aims to transform cities into more sustainable and energy efficient places. Cities all over the world have been selected on the basis of their governments' commitment to energy efficiency and low carbon growth, as well as the existence of dynamic and growing entrepreneurial and technology sectors.



Negawatt is a multi-phase initiative spanning four months. In each of the cities, participating teams are recruited to go from problem to prototype in six strategic phases.


Phase 1


Challenge Definition Day


This is where it all begins. After all, problems can’t be solved unless it’s clear what the problems are. The first phase of the initiative brings together a diverse group representing the city’s public and private sectors for a workshop that will help them to condense their experiences and observations of energy inefficiencies in their city. Their input, taken alongside data already accumulated by the World Bank, will then be converted into concrete challenge statements. These statements serve as Negawatt’s as briefs, but most especially as calls to action for Negawatt Weekend.


Phase 2


Local meet-ups


Once the primary energy issues have been properly defined, local awareness of these issues must be cultivated so that they can be better understood and properly addressed. The second phase opens capacity building meetups to the public. These free events will feature local experts and entrepreneurs to inspire and encourage participation in Negawatt Weekend, introducing the issues surrounding the challenges to be taken up by the teams.






Data is important when testing, enhancing and evaluating the performance of new and existing solutions. Without it innovators may find it difficult to discern how to improve their inventions and further innovate around them. Negawatt aims to identify energy data sets that are relevant to the competition and make this data openly available to anyone. 


Phase 4


Negawatt Weekend


This is “the doing phase”: at this point, participants form teams and compete with one another to address the specific challenge statements developed during the design thinking workshop. Together, team members come up with potential solutions that they refine and pitch in front of a jury. The teams with the most promising ideas are eligible to move on to the next phase as semi-finalists, where they are given the tools to further develop and prototype their proposed solutions.


Phase 5


Negawatt Bootcamp series


No project is ever fully ready after a single weekend of prototyping. To give each of the semi-finalists the best possible chance to give their ideas legs, the remaining teams go through an intense three week bootcamp curriculum that includes training and coaching, both on-site and online.


Phase 6


Demo day


The home stretch. In this final phase, local Negawatt semi-finalists are invited to compete with their international counterparts. With over two months of mentorship and workshops under their belts, each of the teams should be ready for D-day - Demo Day that is. Teams will be flown to Barcelona, Spain, to pitch at one of the world's top ICT event - Smart City Expo World Congress - and the final global Negawatt winner will be selected.


Who can participate?

  1. You are, and each of your team members is, at least 18 years old and the age of majority in your/his/her jurisdiction of residence. If you are considered a minor in your place of residence, then you will require parent or legal guardian permission prior to registering for this contest.
  2. You are, and each of your team members is, a registered attendee of Negawatt Weekend
  3. You must attend Negawatt Weekend in person to be eligible to win.
  4. Neither you nor any of your team members are an employee of The World Bank during Negawatt Weekend; nor an immediate family member (parent, sibling, spouse, child) of or household member to an employee.
  5. Neither you nor any of your team members are involved in any part of the creation, promotion, execution or administration of Negawatt Weekend.
  6. If a Participant is an employee of a corporation, government or an academic institution, enrolled as a student or representing his or her employer, government, or academic institution in Negawatt Weekend, it is his or her sole responsibility to review, understand and abide by his or her employer’s, government’s, or academic institution’s policies regarding eligibility to participate in Negawatt Weekend.
  7. If a Participant is found to be in violation of his or her school’s, government’s or employer’s policies, then he or she will be disqualified from participating in Negawatt Weekend and being awarded or retaining any prize. The World Bank disclaims any and all liability or responsibility for disputes arising between a student or employee and his or her school, government or employer related to Negawatt Weekend.

Negawatt Weekend does not discriminate based on race, religion, gender, age, sexuality, gender identification, or physical ability.


What are the judging criteria for Negawatt Weekend?

Participants will pitch their idea before a judging panel at the end of the Negawatt Weekend. Each team will be given no more than 4 minutes. Judges will select winners based on value creation (25%), relevance to published Negawatt challenges (25%), technical feasibility (20%), financial viability (20%) originality (10%). In the event of a tie, the judges will deliberate a winner. 3-5 top teams will be selected based on this criteria to proceed to the bootcamp phase.


Who are the organizers?

The World Bank is a vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world. It is not a bank in the ordinary sense but a unique partnership to reduce poverty and support development.

The Transport & ICT Global Practice of the World Bank administering the Negawatt Challenge provides clients with infrastructure and policies to improve connectivity and competitiveness, link people to markets and social services to stimulate economic growth, increase climate resilience and reduce carbon footprint.

The Negawatt Challenge in Dar es Salaam is funded by the World Bank Tanzania Country Office.

The Energy Sector Management Assistance Program (ESMAP) is a global knowledge and technical assistance program administered by the World Bank. It provides analytical and advisory services to low- and middle-income countries to increase their know-how and institutional capacity to achieve environmentally sustainable energy solutions for poverty reduction and economic growth. ESMAP is funded by Australia, Austria, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, as well as the World Bank.

ESMAP’s City Energy Efficiency Transformation Initiative is a 3-year, $9 million technical assistance program to help cities identify, develop and mobilize finance for transformational investment programs in urban energy efficiency.

The Negawatt Challenge in Rio de Janeiro is funded by the ESMAP, World Bank Group.

The Korea Green Growth Trust Fund (KGGTF) - is a single Donor World Bank Group program. The 88 million dollar program was established in 2011 in partnership with the Republic of Korea. KGGTF finances the uptake of operational Green Growth technical know-how to influence investment project design of clients of World Bank and IFC. Economic pathways and solutions that integrate multi-sector needs, technological innovation and social inclusion are green growth approaches. KGGTF leverages real-world experience of policy makers and green growth technical practitioners to promote and integrate green growth concepts into investment decisions.

The Negawatt Challenge in Accra and Nairobi is funded by the Korea Green Growth Trust Fund, World Bank Group.


Who are the sponsors and partners?

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Amazon AWS Activate Logo.png

NI is a global Terrawatt Sponsor of the Negawatt Challenge in all participating cities. NI is offering access to its development tools, technical mentorship, training, and providing technical consultation for the teams. NI will supply custom integrated hardware and software solutions for the teams and empower them to build on their innovative inventions in the field of energy efficiency. This partnership is possible through the company's Planet NI program whose objective is to empower engineers in emerging economies to achieve sustainable prosperity by providing increased access to NI technology.

Since 1976, NI has made it possible for engineers and scientists to solve the world’s greatest engineering challenges with powerful, flexible technology solutions that accelerate productivity, innovation, and drive rapid discovery. Customers from a wide variety of industries - from healthcare to automotive and from consumer electronics to particle physics - use NI’s integrated hardware and software platform to improve the world we live in.

Amazon is supporting the Negawatt Challenge by providing access to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Activate program. Amazon Web Services provides startups with low cost, easy to use infrastructure needed to scale and grow any size business. 

AWS Activate is a program designed to provide startups with the resources needed to get started on AWS, and provides features such as technical essentials web-based trainings, office hours with AWS solutions architects, self-paced labs, and access to Amazon payments and AWS marketplace promotions. Some of the world’s hottest startups, including Pinterest and Dropbox, have leveraged the power of AWS to easily get started and quickly scale.

The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) is a partner of the Negawatt Challenge in Accra. MEST is a not-for-profit established in 2008 to provide training, investment and incubation to aspiring high technology entrepreneurs in Africa and with bridges to Silicon Valley. Since its inception, MEST has invested $15 million in supporting West African entrepreneurs and sponsored 200+ entrepreneurs that have graduated from the training program. 

MEST has invested in over 20 startup companies that emerge from the training program, with a portfolio ranging from Health IT to digital media, 2 of which were acquired by global technology firms in the last year. MEST has been recognized on Fast Company's 2015 list of "10 Most Innovative Companies in Africa" and regarded as “one of the largest private investments in Ghanaian economic development” by DFID.

The Climate CoLab is providing an online virtual platform for the Negawatt Challenge participants and will host a "virtual track" to the competition that will be open to the global community regardless of location.

The Climate CoLab is a project of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Center for Collective Intelligence. Its goal is to harness the collective intelligence of thousands of people from all around the world to address global climate change. It does so by providing a crowdsourcing platform where citizens work with experts and each other to create, analyze, and select detailed proposals for what to do about climate change.

Startupbootcamp Internet of Things & Data is the leading global startup accelerator focusing on Internet of Things & Smart Data. The 3-month accelerator leads 11 startups, that come to Barcelona from all around the world, through different phases of development. Startups will be taken to the next level through hands-on sessions with 100+ mentors, master classes on topics ranging from lean to legal issues, and sessions with partners focused on sales, media and investment topics. After the first 3 months of the Startupbootcamp Accelerator Program, teams pitch their company to hundreds of Business Angels and Venture Capitalists at Demo Day at Mobile World Congress -4YFN.