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It’s not every day you get to share the stage with some of the most influential innovators in the United States today.

Last week, the team from Bak USA was honored and delighted to participate in the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge North America finals in Detroit, Michigan. Bak USA, along with 11 organizations from across the U.S. and Canada, was chosen by judges representing a cross-section of industries and non-profits seeking to solve future of work challenges. These experts rated Bak USA’s approach to driving economic opportunity in the digital age as best-in-class.

  • Bak USA was named a North American finalist at the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge.
    The Bak USA team couldn’t resist getting a quick picture together before the Challenge started. That’s J.P. Bak, our Chairman & CEO; Ulla Bak, our president; and Christian Bak, our vice president of product; and yours truly, our director of communications.
  • Bak USA was named a North American finalist at the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge.
    Ulla showed off our Atlas 2-in-1 laptop as she delivered her two-minute pitch.
  • Bak USA was named a North American finalist at the MIT Inclusive Innovation Challenge.
    J.P., Ulla, and Christian with our Atlas 2-in-1 laptop.

The North America Challenge was presented by the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation—a lovely hometown connection for our Buffalo-based company. The Foundation, established in 2015, is a grantmaking organization dedicated to sustained investment in the quality of life of people in Southeast Michigan and Western New York.

Our visit to Detroit provided ample opportunity to network with changemakers from the Foundation as well as fellow finalists, including Tara Reed of Apps Without Code, Jessica Hubley of AnnieCannons, Rajesh Anandan of Ultra Testing, Erica Davis of the Financial Clinic, and Helen Adeosun of Care Academy. The common thread among all those conversations was a commitment to effecting social change through technology and a willingness to share best practices and search for opportunities to partner.

The Challenge required a written application along with a two-minute pitch, delivered with panache by Bak USA president Ulla Bak. In our application, we wrote that as a social enterprise, we are focused on relocalizing the creation of technology. Committed to building computers, empowering people, and changing lives, we’re educating and employing those least likely to share in the prosperity generated by technological innovation.

Check out a few excerpts from our application:

Vision: Five years from now, Bak USA will have established at least four new locations in urban communities throughout the United States—specifically those most critically impacted by economic inequality.

Strategy: Our patent-pending cellular manufacturing process will allow us to scale our model with minimal investment and lead time. With the recent implementation of a sophisticated ERP system and other cloud-based tools, along with a well-established company culture, we can replicate our inclusive, engaging workplace and state-of-the-art production anywhere in the world.

Goals: Build and ship the most computers in our company’s history… Develop new computers that will serve overlooked but future-looking industries… Hire more technicians: the men and women who build our computers… Add 1-2 additional cobots and open a second production workshop (micro-factory) in another U.S. city.

You can watch the livestream of the event below. Ulla’s remarks begin at 1:41:47.

As I’m sure you will agree after watching the livestream, the Challenge brought together powerhouses from all corners of tech (including a plethora of female founders!).

While we won’t be moving on to the global finals next month, our team here at Bak USA feels privileged to have been recognized by the team at MIT, especially Erik Brynjolfsson, one of the preeminent voices on topics relating to robotics, industry, and the new economy. We look forward to fostering continued connections with the team at MIT, the Ralph C. Wilson Foundation, and Challenge finalists as we work toward a common purpose: using technology to help our community’s most vulnerable populations share in the bounty of the digital economy.

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