Washington, D.C. and Bangalore—Startup incubator 1776 and Microsoft Ventures India, the tech powerhouse’s premier startup initiative in India, today announced they will join forces in Bangalore on January 31 to host Challenge Cup 2015, a global competition that spans 16 cities in 11 countries to identify the most promising startups with the best ideas to solve the world’s biggest challenges.
The Bangalore event highlights the growth and vitality of India’s startup community and underscores the role India’s leading innovators are playing in tackling some of the world’s most difficult and intractable social challenges.
“We’re honored to partner with Microsoft Ventures India to host the Challenge Cup in Bangalore, which is home to one of the world’s most promising startup communities,” said 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield. “The Challenge Cup will help to identify startups in India that are addressing complex social challenges, and connect them to mentorship and resources they need to grow and scale.”
Challenge Cup participants compete for $650,000 in prizes in four categories—transportation and cities, education, energy and sustainability, and health—as well as the chance to connect with mentors, corporate partners, policymakers, and potential investors.
“We’re excited to join with 1776 to host the Challenge Cup in Bangalore, where a vibrant community of innovators is disrupting entrenched industries and driving transformative change throughout India and well beyond,” said Rajinish Menon, of Microsoft Ventures India. “Microsoft is working to foster this new generation of leaders who will leverage technological innovation to enhance our world, and this partnership with the Challenge Cup will help offer these leaders a platform to engage with peers, build relationships with mentors, and connect with critical resources that will help them to grow.”
In addition to Bangalore, Challenge Cup 2015 will take place at 15 other regional sites, including Washington D.C., Chicago, Toronto, Sydney, New York City, Tel Aviv, Amman, Mexico City, Nairobi, Austin, Boston, Berlin, Dublin, San Francisco, and China. Each city will produce four regional winners in each of the four categories, with 64 regional winners chosen to compete in 1776’s Challenge Festival in May, a weeklong event in Washington, D.C. that gives these startups an opportunity to pitch investors, connect to new mentors, meet with policymakers, and compete for prizes and funding.
To power Challenge Cup 2015, and ensure the best startups and venture partners have a seat at the table, 1776 has forged partnerships with leading stakeholders, including New Enterprise Associates, the world’s largest venture capital firm, Revolution, the Case Foundation, Capital Factory, Rocketspace, Oasis 500, Betahaus, NDRC, 1871, ATP Innovations, INcubes, The Library, NYU Polytechnic Incubator, and others to be announced.
Candidates for the Challenge Cup competition are startups that are compelling, world changing, and highly scalable, and that aim to make tangible differences in people’s lives, not just build the hottest new app. Through Challenge Cup, entrepreneurs are not only connected to the investors and mentors they need to succeed, but corporations and policymakers in some of the world’s most entrenched industries and government entities are introduced to these innovators’ fresh ideas that have the potential to solve big, difficult challenges.
Last year’s inaugural Challenge Cup was enormously successful. Out of 5,000 applications, 480 startups competed in 16 cities in nine countries. Out of the 64 startups that competed at the Challenge Festival, eight startups were selected to receive funding from 1776 directly, several others received significant investment from other funds or partners, and 1776 set up more than 70 individual meetings between the startups, potential investors, corporate partners, and policymakers.
This year, 1776 is taking the Challenge Cup to the next level by announcing ChallengeX, a feeder competition in which startup incubators around the world have the opportunity to host their own competitions, with the winners automatically entered as finalists into the nearest Challenge Cup regional competition. This means more cities, more startups, and more great ideas. Participating ChallengeX cities include Detroit, New Orleans, and Buenos Aires, with more locations to be announced at a later date.
Winners from last year’s Challenge Cup are already enjoying remarkable success disrupting and innovating the world’s most entrenched industries, including:
- PlugSurfing, a Berlin-based mobile app that allows drivers of electric vehicles to quickly locate charging stations and process payments on their mobile devices—with the dual benefit of making energy-efficient vehicles more practical for German drivers while reducing fossil fuel consumption.
- RideScout, a mobile app that pulls together a host of transportation sources and allows users to quickly plan trips. RideScout was recently acquired by Daimler after 1776 fueled its early growth into a startup capable of innovating ride-share technology within Germany’s highly-regulated transportation sector.
- eduCanon, an online learning environment that creates and shares interactive video lessons to help teachers, especially those who are new to the profession, increase student engagement and improve their ability to plan the next day’s lesson. By helping teachers succeed early on, eduCanon is enabling a better experience for students and teachers.
1776 is a global incubator and seed fund that finds promising startups focused on solving the world’s most fundamental challenges and helps engineer their success.
Just two years old, 1776 has helped more than 250 startups grow by vetting their viability and connecting them to a “swat team” of support, from investors to mentors, government officials, and institutional market partners that they need to succeed.
1776 focuses on startups in the most broken, entrenched industries and sectors that impact millions of lives every day – specifically education, energy, health and cities.
Because solving big challenges in entrenched industries requires a different approach, 1776 is revolutionizing the startup landscape. From its hub in Washington, D.C., it is sparking a global movement of “problem-solving’ startups through its Challenge Cup and Startup Federation, the premiere network of incubators throughout the world.
By creating a global community of startups, mentors, partners, and investors, 1776 is proving that its unique approach to incubation can create a sustained cycle of innovation that connects existing enterprises, corporations, and government entities to the startups that are solving the world’s biggest problems.
1776 was founded in February 2013 by Donna Harris, a serial entrepreneur and the former Managing Director of the Startup America Partnership, and Evan Burfield, founder of netDecide, a provider of enterprise wealth management solutions, and the consulting firm Synteractive.
About Microsoft Ventures
Microsoft Ventures is a global initiative to help entrepreneurs build great companies. We work with start-ups at every stage of maturity to provide the tools, resources, and expertise they need to succeed. The initiative is broad-based, and includes a community program, accelerators, and a seed fund. Our approach helps start-ups scale their business, bring innovative services to market and reach new customers. Visit Microsoft Ventures at www.microsoftventures.com to learn more about how Microsoft is helping the next generation of smart companies take flight.