A highlight of PopTech’s fall conference is when each PopTech Social Innovation and Science Fellow takes the stage in Camden to showcase his or her own work. The raw ingenuity is on full display: reducing malaria by rendering mosquitos infertile, storing digital data in DNA, untangling the evolutionary tree of life, dispatching drones to deliver medicine, and creating nimble new companies with millions of employees but zero managers.

Those presentations are now available online. 

Regardless of the caliber of these eye-popping breakthroughs, it is a huge leap to move a fledgling effort into a program that might help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges. And these kinds of visionaries too often labor in relative isolation, without the benefit of a network of experts and supporters who can help equip an innovator with the skills and connections critical for making that great leap. 

PopTech’s Fellows programs provide multifaceted training from a network of established leaders with broad experience ranging from building effective organizations to fundraising to communications  the very skills required to launch innovations to the next level. The nucleus of the Fellows program is the unique opportunity to connect with like-minded peers and enjoy one-on-one access to experienced mentors. 

Enjoy their Camden presentations and keep an eye on PopTech as we follow their adventures.

"Do you know who produces the ingredients in your kid’s school lunch? What about the meals at your parent’s assisted living community? Or even the milk in that coffee you pick up on the way to work each day?" If Erika Block, PopTech Social Innovation Fellow and Founder of Local Orbit, has anything to do with it, we will all know soon enough.

PopTech 2011 Social Innovation Fellow and MASS Design Group’s Michael Murphy spoke to a group at Van Alen Books for the launch of Empowering Architecture, their first publication showcasing the Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. Murphy spoke about his group’s holistic approach to architecture and the potential for architectural practice to play an integral role in building spaces that heal and strengthen communities.

One more week to get your nominations in for the PopTech Social Innovation Fellows program

The Social Innovation Fellows Program serves visionary change agents who are incubating high-potential new solutions to pressing national, regional and global challenges. Our program is designed to provide a powerful toolkit for creating real and lasting impact. Fellows also gain increased visibility, access to a year-round community of peers in many sectors and a world-class network of experts and supporters.

Image: Peter Durand

How do we encourage resilience in the face of the world’s many challenges? PopTech’s major focus in 2012 centers on that very question. And some of the best new solutions we’ve seen have come directly from social innovators, visionaries on the front lines of social change. Now is your chance to help speed up their impact, by nominating candidates for the PopTech Social Innovation Fellows program.

Fellows are invited to Maine in October for a five-day training, immediately followed by an opportunity to attend and present at the PopTech conference. They gain new skills and broad exposure, and benefit by connecting with the program’s faculty and the larger PopTech network. Our primary goal with the Fellows program: to enable these emerging leaders to reach real, wide, sustainable impact as quickly as possible.

Check out the Call for Nominations to help spark your thinking. Our alumni from the classes of 200820092010 and 2011 also offer great examples of changemakers putting new ideas into action: a mushroom-based alternative to Styrofoam™, peer-to-peer education loans, a platform for sustainable food distribution, and solar systems sold like mobile phone minutes, among others.

If you or someone you know is a great fit, head to poptech.org/nominate and submit a nomination. Get it done soon: nominations close this year on April 3, 2012.

The Social Innovation Fellows program is supported by the Rita Allen Foundation, the Nike Foundation, the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, PwC and American Express.

What happens when ambitious and talented data scientists are connected with social organizations rife with data but lacking resources to do anything with it? 2011 Social Innovation Fellow Jake Porway's Data Without Borders helps bring these two groups together, using data in the service of humanity to design transformative visualizations and decision-making tools.

Recently, we checked in with Porway to learn how his experience at PopTech shaped his current work with Data Without Borders.

Amy Sun, founding architect of MIT’s Fab Lab program and 2011 Social Innovation Fellow, explains how the program she created “gives people access to the tools and processes for the modern means of invention.” What that translates to are successful programs that have enabled citizens in Afghanistan and Kenya to ‘make the Internet’ based on the resources they have at their disposal. When you provide people and their ideas with tools and a guiding set of principals, Sun believes, it can unlock capacity and energize a community.

Data Dissolves Borders: Tackling Problems One Data Point At A Time

From helping the ACLU track prejudice in NYPD tactics to changing how the UN monitors crises, the hackers behind Data Without Borders are bringing a hacker mentality to organizations working for change.

Watch Data Without Borders founder Jake Porway at PopTech 2011

In honor of Veterans Day, we wanted to share with you a talk given by PopTech Social Innovation Fellow Bryan Doerries about his project, the Theater of War. This theatrical performance presents readings of Sophocles’Ajax and Philoctetes to military and civilian communities across the United States and Europe. By presenting these plays to those specific audiences, Theater of War seeks to create a dialogue, foster community, and de-stigmatize the psychological injuries of war.

Read more about Doerries’ Theater of War performance at PopTech from a few weeks ago.

Since Friday, the Social Innovation Fellows training has been taking place at Point Lookout in Lincolnville, Maine. The fifteen Fellows, led by innovators and leaders in their fields, have been meeting for a multi-day intensive program focused on accelerating their projects that address new approaches to the planet’s toughest challenges. The training looks to tools such as branding, media relations, social media, finance, digital storytelling and design to bring these social innovations to scale.

Have a look at more photos of the training from our Flickr stream. And be sure to check out our schedule so you can watch their stage talks at PopTech this coming week, which will also be streamed live starting Thursday, October 20, 2011.