About the Challenge

The Laudato Si’ Startup Challenge, inspired by Pope Francis is a global initiative, an urgent call-to-action, that encourages early to mid-stage startups to grow their breakthrough solutions to the world’s boldest challenges. Teams of young people, of all faiths, all backgrounds, on every continent, are being asked to scale their profitable, innovative and sustainable products and services which address a grand challenge. The challenge category for 2017 is: climate change and involuntary migration. Startup teams from over 100 countries are now being recruited through a direct call-to-action, through global startup ecosystems, university partners and a worldwide executive network. After submitting first-round entries, the field will be narrowed to 50. Following a rigorous, 60-day screening and interview process, a panel of experts will choose the most promising 12 startups (semi-finalists) to advance into an 8-week business accelerator in Rome to expand and scale their solution.

Each semi-finalist will be offered an equity investment and mentorship as they work to become one of the finalists. All of the startups that reach the semi-finals stage of The Challenge will receive ongoing support to further define their products and services, with the goal of emerging as fully-investable enterprises. In December, The Laudato Si’ Challenge will culminate with a demo day and grand ceremony inside Vatican City. The global event will celebrate each of the six startups as they present their game-changing products and services to the world, as well as memorialize the 21st Century standard of doing business: profitable, social, mission aligned and bankable.


The Laudato Si’ Startup Challenge wwill unite humanity in common purpose and productive conversation, much like His Holiness Pope Francis’s “Revolution of Tenderness.” It will be a beacon of new business, inspiring a new generation of entrepreneurs to build for-profit, for-purpose companies that address humanity’s biggest challenges in ways that are beneficial to all.


Key People

  • His Holiness Pope Francis

    266th and current Pope of The Roman Catholic Church

  • His Eminence Cardinal Turkson

    Prefect, Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development

  • Ibrahim Al Husseini

    Founder, The Husseini Group

  • Thomas Ermacora

    Futurist & Impact Entrepreneur, Recoded City Author

  • Chade-Meng Tan

    Co-Chair, One Billion Acts of Peace

  • Caitlin Sparks

    Partner, FullCycle Energy Fund

  • Andrew Mangino

    Founder, The Future Fund

  • Jeff Cherry

    Founder & Executive Director Conscious Venture Lab

  • Lola Grace

    Founder & Chairman, Middle East Children’s Institute.

  • Eric Harr - Co-Founder & Managing Director

    Serial Entrepreneur

  • Ahmad Ashkar - Co-Founder

    Founder & CEO, Hult Prize

  • Stephen Forte - Accelerator Director

    Managing Partner, Fresco Capital

  • Darcie Newton - Chief of Staff

    Imagine Ventures

  • Shelly Strebel - Brand/Content Strategist

    Imagine Ventures

  • Paul Orlando - Program Director

    Incubator Director & Adjunct Professor, USC

  • Jean Marc Ly - Growth Hacker in Residence

    Cofounder, Recime

  • Ben Stanfield - Assistance Program Director

    Iovine & Young Academy, USC