May 16, 2014
On the fourth and last night of semifinal rounds, 16 startups competed in the Challenge Cup’s Smart Cities Semifinals. All week long, 64 startups in the categories of health, smart cities, education, and energy have competed for eight spots in Saturday’s Global Finals competition. From RideScout’s smartphone app that aggregates ground transportation options to Silverside Detectors’s low-cost neutron sensors, the set of startups at last night’s competition was maybe the most diverse we’ve seen at 1776’s Challenge Festival. After much deliberation from the judges, the Smart Cities Semifinals resulted in the two winners plus an honorable mention.
Domestic Winner: HandUp
The San Francisco winner of the Challenge Cup competition, HandUp‘s direction donation system for the homeless and other people in need was not only socially laudable, but was worthy of winning the domestic slot in the smart cities category for Global Finals. After signing through any of the company’s nonprofit partners in the community, those in need of basics such as food, clothing, medical care, and the like, set up member profiles on HandUp’s platform. HandUp users can then choose to support whomever they choose, with 100 percent of funding going directly to supporting these essential human needs. According to the company, over $35 billion goes directly to human services and food banks every year, which highlights the demand for this giving platform.
International Winner: MellowCabs
The winner at Challenge Cup Cape Town, MellowCabs, manufactures and provides electric mini-cabs that allow for more efficient public transport in cities. At last night’s pitch, the company noted that of all urban trips made, 80 percent are shorter than 4 miles. Because of the brevity of such trips, internal combustion engines (found in your typical car) are really inefficient. So, the company has managed to design low-cost, energy-efficient vehicles. MellowCabs has already signed agreements with more than 20 firms across the globe, and the company plans to launch a new design for their mini-cab in September.
Honorable Mention: Reaction
The judges at last night’s semifinals competition agreed that Reaction deserved an honorable mention for the company’s potential for great social impact on both the domestic and international fronts. The company’s Exo housing system is a new type of emergency relief shelter that’s both cheaper and more technologically advanced than traditional shelters. Read about them in this previous article we wrote.
Hottest Smart Cities Startup (Readers’ Choice): SocioTransit
Our readers have, once again, deviated from the judges’ opinion and ultimately believed that the UK’s SocioTransit is the hottest smart cities startup. If you’ve ever asked your friend traveling abroad to buy you a specific product that you want, then SocioTransit is definitely something you’ll love. It offers a marketplace platform that connects seekers of such products with travelers.
In each of the Challenge Cup’s four categories (education, energy, health, and smart cities), 16 startups from the United States and abroad compete for a spot in the Finals competition – with one domestic startup and one international startup earning the chance to compete in the Finals. After a week’s worth of semifinal competitions, all 64 startups have pitched, with eight startups moving on to compete at Saturday’s Challenge Cup: Global Finals.
The Challenge Cup is produced by 1776 in partnership with Tech Cocktail and iStrategyLabs.
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