Border Innovation Challenge

What is the Border Innovation Challenge?

Border Innovation Challenge

The Border Innovation Challenge, now in its second year, is a business plan competition focused on the challenges presented by the international border. This competition focuses on bringing to the spotlight promising solutions and technologies to meet the efficiency and security challenges of the regions ports of entry among others. Supported by the Smart Border Coalition, the program is presented through a partnership of the Rady School of Management and the Jacobs School of Engineering, and is open to entrepreneurs and those affiliated with univerities afrom across the greater San Diego/Tijuana border region.

The competition awards cash prizes totaling $10,000 to support new innovative ideas that meet challenges related to border wait time, infrastructure, and ease of passage for cargo. Social innovation ideas and those with or without prototypes are encouraged to apply!


What challenges are you looking to solve?

The international border has been in the spotlight for several years and the challenges on both sides are numerous. This competition is looking for technology and solutions focused on, but not limited to, the following areas:

  • Accurate wait time measurement and predictive analytics
  • Best use of access roads based on current Tijuana infrastructure
  • Better Northbound and Southbound queue and lane management
  • Process improvements at US border agent booths
  • Eliminating driver error regarding getting into SENTRI lanes in Tijuana
  • Guiding travelers to appropriate port(s) and providing easy directions to get back to U.S.
  • Using new and current technologies to move cargo through the border efficiently
  • Crowdsourcing to pay for basic border infrastructure needs
  • Border crosser online surveying to understand the real-time crossing experience, northbound and southbound
  • Measurement of commercial impact in Tijuana due to long lines near the ports
  • Aggregation engine for border related essential information, e.g. wait times, pollution levels.
  • 5G network and its application at border crossings
  • Wait time impact on San Diego County sales tax
  • Gauging border news stories’ impact on cross border commerce
  • Real time water pollution monitoring in Tijuana beaches
  • New lane types for border crossers


Who can participate?

Entrepreneurs and anyone affiliated with a college or university from across the San Diego/Tijuana border region may apply for the competition. Those with relevant ideas at all stages of development, including social innovation ideas, are welcome to submit an application.   


What’s the process?

Applications are being accepted through 9AM on April 8th. Apply online at 

Applicants will receive an update on the status of their application no later than April15, 2020.

Finalists will present at the Border Innovation Challenge event on May 6, 2020.


Need more information?

Join us for an information session to learn more about the goals of the Challenge, meet representatives of the Smart Border Coalition, and ask any questions you may have. Register for a VIRTUAL information session on April 2nd at 12:00 PM at: 


Questions? Please contact Karen at