Two USD Student Teams Compete in USD-Hosted Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge on Saturday

Two University of San Diego (USD) student teams, Xatalyze and Sunlight U, will compete on Saturday, June 13 as two of the top 16 finalists for the Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge– a USD-hosted social venture pitch competition focused on innovative, student-led projects that promote sustainable change. 

Seven countries and 13 universities are represented in the challenge, competing for $58,000 in seed funding and other resources to turn their projects into a reality. 

The two University of San Diego teams include:

  • Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies student Brittany Kirk, the founder of Sunlight U, an online, interactive learning platform, with an AI component, that helps trauma survivors heal by understanding the science behind their trauma
  • Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering three-student team, Xatalyze, developed the idea for an energy storage device that uses solar panels to power homes

“Innovation is more central now to imagine new possibilities and to change the world for the better. In a time of crisis, it’s when we see innovation coming alive with initiatives that save people’s lives, that meet the need for systemic change, that help us go to school even though we must keep our distance,” said Patricia Márquez, Dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, one of the two schools at USD which hosts the competition. 

The Fowler Global Social Innovation Challenge started in 2011 showcasing only USD student projects and eventually expanded into a global pitch contest in 2018. Since the program’s inception, winning teams have received $400,000 in seed funding for social ventures in over 17 countries.

For the first year, the 2020 Global Finals will be a virtual experience for student innovators. 

NBC’s The Voice contestant and La Mesa native, Cedrice Webber, will perform an inspirational song for students during the competition to support their innovative ideas. The community can register for free here to watch the competition live on YouTube on Saturday, June 13 at 5 p.m. PDT.

About the University of San Diego

The University of San Diego sets the standard for an engaged, contemporary Catholic university where innovative Changemakers confront humanity’s urgent challenges. With more than 9,000 students from 69 countries and 50 states, USD is the youngest independent institution on the U.S. News & World Report list of top 100 universities in the United States. The university's eight academic divisions include the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, the Shiley-Marcos School of Engineering, the School of Law, the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, the Hahn School of Nursing and Health Science, the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, and the Division of Professional and Continuing Education. USD's Envisioning 2024 strategic plan capitalizes on the university’s recent progress and aligns new strategic goals with current strengths to help shape a vision for the future as the university looks ahead to its 75th anniversary in the year 2024.


Elena Gomez
(619) 260-2739