NextChallenge: Smart Cities to Create Sustainable Urban Solutions


NextEnergy, DENSO, DTE Energy, and Wells Fargo today announced a partnership to host the second annual NextChallenge: Smart Cities, a global competition challenging innovators to find and implement hardware and software technology solutions to meet the new demands of an increasingly urban global population.

The global urban population projected to rise to 66 percent by 2050 from 54 percent in 2014, according to the latest projections. NextChallenge: Smart Cities is tasking technology providers to create hardware and software solutions in smart parking, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, or smart buildings to prepare for the added stress on city infrastructures.

Technology providers also are tasked with creating innovations that are connected, interactive, and data driven (“smart”), and create safer, more sustainable communities.

“The goal is to identify new technology to address urban challenges related to safety, mobility, emissions, accessibility, and congestion while also driving economic development in the region,” says Jean Redfield, president and CEO of NextEnergy. “The inaugural challenge brought talented individuals and creative solutions from around the world, and we’re looking forward to another great year of innovative ideas and advancement in Smart City technology.”

The winner of the challenge will be awarded up to $80,000 in grant funding from Wells Fargo to put their solution into practice at the NextEnergy Center in Detroit, or another site appropriate for the solution category. Up to four other finalists are eligible to win an additional combined total of $20,000. Awards and support for the program are funded by a $650,000 three-year grant from Wells Fargo.

Callida Energy won the inaugural challenge out of 50 other participants. The New York-based sustainable energy provider is now working with NextEnergy and DTE Energy to choose an appropriate site for their Callida Occupant App solution. The app optimizes energy use in commercial buildings using real-time data to encourage building operators to heat and cool their building based on the occupants’ comfort and presence.

“The prize is allowing us to install our software in a commercial building site, do a baseline, make changes to how the building is operated, and develop a case study for how our solution delivered specific savings for the building,” says Raphael Carty, CEO of Callida Energy. “Before this challenge, we had a presence in New York and Houston. We saw opportunity in Detroit, but we weren’t known in the market. This competition put us on the map in the region.”

Technology providers interested in competing in NextChallenge: Smart Cities are asked to submit an online concept proposal by 11:59 p.m. EDT Aug. 18. A panel of judges including representatives from the companies will review the submissions based on the following objectives: unique and technologically-sound innovation, applicant qualifications, competitive advantage, and scalability.

Chosen solutions are expected to be supported by measurable metrics, address data analytics and information sharing, and open application programming interface capabilities. Semi-finalists are required to submit a full proposal by Sept. 29. Finalists pitch their ideas and present a video in-person to judges and guests at NextEnergy Center in Detroit Dec. 6. The winner will carry out pilots of their solution in 2018.

Sponsors will speak about the solutions of interest and the process of reviewing applications in a webinar scheduled for July 27 from 2-3 p.m. EDT.

More information about the challenge and application details can be found here.

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