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Challenge Winners Look to Root Out Contamination at Food Processing Plants

Some prize competitions seek to solve problems to benefit the public; others may spur industry through the creation of new businesses. And some do both. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) I-FAST competition sought to bring fundamental academic research to the marketplace through innovations in food and agricul... Continue reading
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FTC Announces Internet of Things Challenge to Combat Security Vulnerabilities in Home Devices

Contestants will compete for a top prize of $25,000 for best technical solution

The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it is challenging the public to create an innovative tool that will help protect consumers from security vulnerabilities in the software of home devices connected to the Internet of Things. The agency is offering a cash prize of up to $25,000 for the best technical solution, with up to $3,000 available for up to three honorable mention winner(s). The FTC is asking contestants to develop a tool... Continue reading
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Help Shape New Directions in Open Science: Vote for your favorite Innovation!

In the spirit of open science – a movement to make data and other information from scientific research available to everyone -- the National Institutes of Health invites you to cast your vote and help us decide which of the projects competing for the Open Science Prize are th... Continue reading
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Q&A: Company Finds Validation, New Partners in Hearing Loss Challenge

Noise-induced hearing loss is prevelant among workers in industries from manufacturing to the military, where it is the most common disability among veterans. Each year, more than 20 million workers are exposed to noise levels that can cause irreparable damage to the inner ear and lead to hearing loss and tinnitus, which is a ringing in the ears. These conditions cost employers millions of dollars each year and cannot be reversed through medic... Continue reading
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Open for Business: Public Competitions Advance the Work of Citizen Entrepreneurs

Elizabeth Caven had just turned an idea into a startup venture last year when she entered the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER challenge, a competition organized to unearth inventive products and services that empower women and families. Caven won the agency’s top prize and now is revolutionizing the sewing industry from h... Continue reading
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Q&A: Challenge Winner Searches Disparate Data for Meaning

The U.S. intelligence community does much of its work out of the public eye for obvious reasons, but sharing certain challenges with everyone can benefit both a federal agency and members of the public eager to help. One of these problems involves creating a unified picture from data in various forms, schemas, interfaces and locations. National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Director Robert Cardillo called it creating “coherence from c... Continue reading
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Education Dept Launches EdSim Challenge

Today, the U.S. Department of Education launched the EdSim Challenge with a cash prize pool of $680,000 and additional sponsor prizes from IBM, Microsoft, Oculus, and Samsung. The Challenge calls upon the virtual reality, video game developer, and educational technology communities to submit concepts for immersive simulations that will prepare students for the globally competitive workforce of the 21st ... Continue reading
Posted in Creative, Department of Education | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Code-A-Thon Targets Opioid Epidemic

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently hosted a two-day in-person and virtual Code-A-Thon on FDA’s main campus as one component of the Naloxone App Competition. Over 30 teams participated Oct. 19 and 20 with representation from a variety of small and large businesses, academic institutions and other entrepreneurs and innovators. FDA’s Chief Information Officer Todd Simpson kicked off the event by discussing FDA’s efforts to prom... Continue reading
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The Government’s Innovation Network Is Growing, Thanks to You

Good news, solvers. The federal government’s use of challenges is catching on. And your ideas and solutions are helping agencies address some pretty big issues, whether it’s hunting for asteroids, reducing water pollution or finding ways to Continue reading
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FDA launches #NaloxoneApp competition

Looking to bring a technological solution to a real-world public health problem? Check out the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 2016 #NaloxoneApp Competition. It’s a public contest focused on developing innovative technologies to combat the rising epidemic of opioid overdose. Participants are tasked to create a mobile phone application that can connect ... Continue reading
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Q&A: Military Wants Public’s Ideas for Improved ChemBio Suit

Government agencies organize prize competitions to capture ideas from the general public on important issues. These competitions are anything but one-offs and often serve a higher calling and have impacts that last long after the submission deadline. PROOF: The ChemBio Suit Design Challenge is a great example of a challenge that mixes ingenuity, prize m... Continue reading
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A Tale of Two Viruses

Challenges often shake things up and inspire people to look at a problem from another angle. Just ask University of Arizona professors Joceline Lega and Heidi Brown. Their prize-winning work to predict the spread of the chikungunya virus (CHIKV) in the Americas could have implications that extend to other diseases, including Zika. Lega, a mathematics professor, and Brown, an assistant professor in epidemiology and biostatistics, won $150,00... Continue reading
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First Lady Announces Winner in Reach Higher Career App Challenge

Today the First Lady Michelle Obama announced ThinkZone Games as the grand prize winner in the Reach Higher Career App Challenge! ThinkZone Games will receive $100,000 and additional sponsor prizes valued at $300,000 for their career exploration mobile app Hats & Ladders. Hats & Ladders engages students from middle to high school with swipe-to-choose self-assessments, connected activities, and m... Continue reading
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​Iowa innovator wins agency’s $10K competition

The winner of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency’s first competition never thought he “would in any way be involved with an intelligence agency.” Nicholas Starke, a penetration tester and computer software evaluator in Iowa, spotted an advertisem... Continue reading
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Challenge Win Advances Quest for Clean Water in Rural India

Challenges are just not competitions for cash. They often act as catalysts to new businesses, research findings and technologies that make an impact in everyday lives. Prize money can provide crucial funding on the way to more ambitious goals. MIT researchers Amos Winter and Natasha Wright found that out when they won the U.S. Agency for International Devel... Continue reading
Posted in U.S. Agency for International Development, Winner Stories | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Where Are They Now?

Early Challenge Winner Looks to Take His Message Nationwide

James McBride has written numerous rap songs, but it was his lyrics on hitting the fruit and vegetable stand that won him a cash prize from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). McBride, also known as Mr. Deep Positivity, won first place in USDA’s MyPlate Fruits & Veggies Video Challenge in 2011 with his “Wrap... Continue reading
Posted in Department of Agriculture, Success Stories, Video contest, Winner Stories | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Challenge Winners Have Success Stories of All Kinds

Some come from the private sector, others come from universities and high schools. Some develop a new technology, others end up starting a business. Some come from big cities, others come from out of nowhere. The best thing about a challenge is that anyone can participate and anyone can win. Check out some past winners and see what they have to say about how the challenges they ... Continue reading
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Global Challenge Battles Forced Labor

When you sign on to help with a challenge, you open yourself up to a variety of people, opportunities and interest areas. Sometimes, you may be asked to develop a fun, educational app or design a multimedia project. Other times, you may be asked to join the fight against modern-day slavery. The Partnership for Freedom Rethink Supply Chains Challenge called on citizens to do the latter. A public-private partnership featuring several feder... Continue reading
Posted in Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Justice, Department of Labor, Partnering, Prize Competitions, Public-Private Partnership, State Department, Technology, Winner Stories | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Q&A: Prize Money Expected to Grow for Great Lakes Data Challenge

The Great Lakes ecosystem is an all-important national asset that contains 84 percent of the fresh surface water in North America and 18 percent of the world’s supply of fresh water. More than a million U.S. jobs and $62 billion in wages are directly tied to the Great Lakes, making restoration efforts all the more critical. Reports indicate that these remed... Continue reading
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New Resource Matches Innovators with Funding

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and partners today launched the Global Innovation Exchange in Silicon Valley. The Exchange is an online platform for innovators, funders, and subject matter experts to connect innovations with funding and resources. The goal is to accelerate development inno... Continue reading
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It’s Baseball Season, and Hits Another Milestone

If you haven’t noticed, the number of challenges listed on has crossed the 700 mark. That’s currently a handful more challenges than Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez has home runs. But unlike baseball greats who have approached and even surpassed the 700 mark (there are three), doeesn’t slow down and it doesn’t retire. It just keeps growing and getting better. A little history just to give you an idea... Continue reading
Posted in, Department of the Treasury, Milestone, NASA, National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institutes of Health, Prize Competitions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

We the People

How the Founding Fathers Pioneered Crowdsourcing Competitions in the United States

It’s March 24, 1792. An announcement, no bigger than your average classified ad, appears in a Philadelphia newspaper. It offers $500 and a piece of land in the District of Columbia to the person who can come up with the best design for a capitol building for a new nation. The designer of the second-best proposal will receive $250 or a medal. The nation, of course, was the United States, and the idea for the competition came from then Secr... Continue reading
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A Medical Bill You Can Understand — Yes, Please!

If you’re like us, any time you visit the doctor, you end up with a mish-mash of billing information. It seems to come from everywhere -- the doctor’s office, the insurance company, through the mail, over the phone, and so on. And if you’re like any of us, you take it all in and say out loud (to no one in particular), “Why do they make this so difficult?” Well, here’s your chance to make it easy -- for yourselves and everyone... Continue reading
Posted in Creative, Department of Health and Human Services, Healthcare | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Teams Respond to Challenge with Ideas for Futuristic Memorials

Over the next century, rising sea levels could have a big impact on the way we live. But even if neighborhoods and entire cities disappear, they could live on in a Memorial for Future Lost Cities in Washington D.C., so says one of the semi-finalists in the Memorials for the Future challenge. The National Park Service (NPS), National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) and Van Alen Institute recently... Continue reading
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