Civic Hall, a coworking space that fosters nascent GovTech initiatives and champions public sector innovation, played host to the 1776 Challenge Cup Regional in New York City. Entrepreneurs, investors, and tech journalists gathered amid the fashion-show atmosphere to watch companies pitch and find out who would be moving on in the Challenge Cup competition.
1776 is a global incubator, membership organization, and seed fund that partners with startups seeking to innovate in heavily regulated markets. Based in Washington, DC, 1776 works with companies seeking to disrupt cybersecurity, education, energy, food, health, money and transportation as well as those seeking to make cities smarter. The Challenge Cup is a global pitch tournament touring over 60 cities hosted by 1776. New York’s Regional was one of nine “pitch-offs” in as many cities that brought together the best pitches from the local stage of the tournament.
35 companies were each given 2 minutes to pitch their ideas and 1 minute to answer judges questions in what was aptly described as a “binge watch, shark tank experience.” At stake were 5 slots in the Challenge Cup Global Finals in Washington DC for the best pitches as well as a $10K prize for the best solution for caregivers presented by AARP.
Judging the event were the following public and private sector experts and investors:
- Donna Harris, Cofounder and CEO of 1776
- Mark Stephenson, Head of Brand, Communications and Digital at Philips
- Maria Gotsch, President & CEO of the Partnership Fund for New York City
- Jessica Singleton, Chief Digital Officer for the NYC Mayor’s Office
- Matt Turck, Managing Director of FirstMark Capital
- Jeffrey Makowka, Director of Market Innovation at AARP
From a microfluidic device that promised greater clarity in clinical trials to an analytics dashboard that boosted college retention and graduation rates, the pitches presented a broad range of solutions to critical civic and societal pain points. Tremendous pitches were customarily met with raucous ovation. Presenters who ran into difficulty were also applauded and urged on by the supportive crowd.
In the end the following five companies were crowned and will be moving on to the Challenge Cup Global Finals to be held from June 5-11, where they compete for the $175K grand prize.
MakerBloks are reactive color-coded building blocks and accompanying digital activity books that introduce children to electronics through storytelling.
Fletch is a smartphone app that fosters social inclusion and academic support by empowering students to invite any classmate to a study group.
Propel helps families put food on the table by using mobile software to improve the experience of accessing and participating in the federal SNAP program.
Dash produces an integrated hardware and software solution that seeks to create the ‘automotive graph’ — the leading open connected car platform that harnesses data exhaust from vehicles in the consumer and enterprise transportation space.
Neuro+ helps kids with ADHD improve their abilities to focus and pay attention by utilizing electroencephalogram headsets that measures brain activity and motion while a video game trains them to focus.
In addition SeniorHabitat was the AARP Special selection. SeniorHabitat is a centralized, tour booking, and informational website that simplifies senior care transition.