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What is the Innovation Commons?

The Innovation Commons area, featuring a series of uplifting experiences designed to inspire awe, will set this summit apart. This will be a public play-space where participants and the public will interact with new, innovative tools and products critically assisting conservation success. Unique sponsor demonstrations, curated art installations, and networking lounges will feature bird-friendly coffee.

A real-time competition - Make for the Planet - will be included in the Innovation Commons, organized by Conservation X Labs with Duke University and Engineering networks. The competition which will run throughout the Summit, will develop, in real time, tools and technologies to answer conservation challenges our invited speakers will present to them live. In addition, the Smithsonian and its partners will feature a Conservation Comics Lab and multiple conservation story-telling and networking sites in the Commons, along with exhibits of global "solutions in progress" being developed by Smithsonian and partner conservation labs.

Where is the Innovation Commons Located?

Centrally located in the Atrium of the building, the Innovation Commons is at the crossroads of the main Plenary sessions and the Public access so it is a high traffic, high activation space. The central hub of the space is a lounge area where guests can order "bird-friendly coffee" at all times during the conference hours. This is then surrounded by key sponsor innovation areas, and flanked by Make for the Planet and Conservation storytelling units: Conservation Comics Lab and Story-Booths.

The Innovation Commons will be "open" during conference hours and we will allow several times during each day that are programmed specifically with hours for attendees to focus on this area.  This will ensure plenty of engagement opportunity between sponsors and attendees.


Overview of the Innovation Commons space with coffee in the center, Make for the Planet under the Rotunda to the right, and various sponsorship spaces surrounding the central core.

Make for the Planet

Are you a hacker, coder, maker, engineer, designer, creative thinker or tinkerer? Do you want to apply your creative talents and technical expertise to some of the world’s most intractable conservation challenges? If so, please join us for a three-day Make for the Planet event at the Earth Optimism Summit in Washington, D.C. over Earth Day weekend (April 21-23)! The process for team selection will be highly competitive, and we encourage you to form teams that bring together engineering, conservation science, social sciences, and other disciplines. Conservation X Labs and partners will award cash prizes to the most innovative solutions for specific conservation problems presented at the event. You will have access to a maker’s space built on site to create prototypes and models of your hardware and/or software solutions. Space and registration is limited! Visit the link below to read more information and express your team’s interest in participating. Sign up now to be considered for an invitation.

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