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Innovation 4 change AI

Sixty talents, 10 challenges and 5 months to disrupt and build a better future

UNICRI launches the challenge: Putting a stop to child sexual abuse before it occurs

Meet the Hackathon Team of UNICRI’s challenge: Putting a Stop to Child Sexual Abuse Before it Occurs!


The seventh edition of Innovation 4 Change kicks off: young talents try their hand at solving challenges inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals through a process that involves the fusion of entrepreneurship, technology and storytelling.

Friday, February 18th marks the start of the seventh edition of Innovation 4 Change (I4C), the first and one of the most important impact innovation programs in Italy.

Born from a collaboration between Collège des Ingénieurs Italia, Politecnico di Torino and IdeaSquare, the experimental innovation department of CERN, I4C has the ambitious goal of responding, with concrete and innovative solutions, to some of the most important challenges affecting our country - and beyond.

60 talents under 30, participants in the Master in Business Administration of the Collège des Ingénieurs Italia, doctoral students selected from the best European universities and young creatives from Holden, the school of storytelling founded by Alessandro Baricco, will work over the next five months on 10 challenges launched by 10 partners, both corporate and institutional.

One of the distinguishing features of I4C is precisely the variety of its participants: today more than ever, we know how diversity of background and education is an essential element to trigger a creative process and give rise to disruptive and profoundly innovative ideas - and consequent solutions. And our country urgently needs these solutions.

Not only that, young people are invited to think as much as possible outside the box, but with an essential guideline: the proposed solutions must have a high, positive and sustainable impact. Sustainability is not just a fad for I4C, but one of the key evaluation (and validation) criteria, in its most all-encompassing meaning, economic, social and environmental.

The younger generations have a new, fresh sensitivity, which must be listened to and facilitated: I4C wants to be a testing ground where they can experiment and, why not, realize what they have imagined.

Supporting the initiative this year, along with Arduino and Fondazione Agnelli, Green Pea also joined the project as a venue partner, providing spaces for the Ideation phase of the project and the final Demo Day. Rai Way, Movyon, TELT, Grimaldi Group, CNHi, UNICRI, DSM, Snam and the Ministero delle infrastrutture e della mobilità sostenibili are instead the organizations that will sponsor the 10 challenges. These are varied and reflect some of the main challenges facing the markets to which these players belong. Here too, however, there is a common pillar: the challenges are focused on solving problems related to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG goals).

The future belongs to these young talents and I4C wants to give them the opportunity to start designing it today.

About UNICRI’s Hackathon Challenge "Putting a stop to child sexual abuse before it occurs"

While the full scale of online child sexual exploitation and abuse remains unknown, existing evidence suggests considerable cause for concern. The pandemic has exacerbated this serious crime: authorities in several countries have reported an increase in the quantity of child sexual abuse materials online and attempts to access websites hosting such content. Not only has the scale of abuse increased, but also its severity and complexity.

In 2020 UNICRI’s Centre of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics, and the Ministry of Interior of the United Arab Emirates launched the ‘AI for Safer Children’ with the aim of tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse online through the exploration of new technological solutions. The goal of the initiative is to support law enforcement agencies to tap into the potential of AI through the unique centralized platform “Global Hub” containing information on AI tools that can be used to combat child sexual exploitation and abuse and provide guidance on how to navigate the ethical challenges presented by the use of AI.

Beyond this platform, the initiative seeks to explore the positive potential of AI to prevent child sexual exploitation and abuse online through network-building, awareness-raising and advocacy activities, also organized under the umbrella of the United Nations.

While a strong law enforcement response to prosecute cases is essential, a truly sustainable strategy must include active prevention of abuse. Therefore, an environment must be cultivated where the topic of child protection and adult responsibility is openly discussed and encouraged. Current blocking and filtering programs are ineffective to real-time threats and encrypted environments. And even if AI has proven to be a powerful tool to detect child sexual exploitation material, its potential for prevention has not been thoroughly explored.

In this sense, there is a need to develop preventative solutions to keep children safe from predators online. The Hackathon challenge launched by UNICRI, “Putting a stop to child sexual abuse before it occurs”, aims at identifying innovative ideas which could include the development of educational games and social media campaigns for children. The objective of the challenge is to raise awareness as well as to explore innovative tools to prevent the risks.  For this Hackathon, UNICRI is challenging the brilliant participants to this initiative to create a solution to prevent children from being sexually exploited online.

Thoughts about IAC 

Markus Nordberg, Head of Resources development at CERN, spoke about some key themes of the program: 'When we started I4C together with CDI and PoliTO, about 4/5 years ago, we had no idea that it would be so phenomenal and successful! This, of course, happened because of all the talented participants and two important elements: the focus on long-term impact and the multidisciplinary nature of the teams. I hope that the participants will treasure this experience and use it to push their limits in the future as well!’

Emilio Paolucci, Director of the 'Alta Scuola Politecnica and lecturer of the Innovation course at the MBA of the Collège des Ingénieurs already argues that: "The development of an innovative entrepreneurial mindset is essential to ground good ideas that can have a significant impact on society."

Silvia Petocchi, Managing Director of CDI Italy emphasizes: ''What I find fantastic about I4C is that it is the result of a continuous collaboration between different actors: CERN, universities and schools, young talents, companies and institutions. We keep learning from each other and improving the program, confirming that innovation comes from the meeting of different approaches, perspectives and needs.''

Success Stories

The I4C experience has given rise to several startups that over the years have continued to pursue their mission: to generate a positive impact on the Planet.