Press Release

Startup Incubator 1776 Teams Up with the New York School of Engineering to Bring Challenge Cup 2015 to New York City


Washington, D.C. and New York City—Startup incubator 1776 has joined with the New York University Polytechnic School of Engineering incubators to announce that New York City will participate as a host city in 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, on November 20.

“We’re thrilled to join forces with NYU and bring the Challenge Cup to New York City, a city that is quickly becoming a leading global hub for innovative startups tackling some of the world’s most fundamental challenges,” said 1776 co-founder Donna Harris. “This competition will not only help Big Apple startups grow and scale—it will further connect the five boroughs to our growing movement of innovators interested in solving big, intractable problems.” 

Challenge Cup participants compete for $650,000 in prizes in four categories—education, energy, health, and cities—as well as the chance to connect with mentors, corporate partners, policymakers, and potential investors.

“We are pleased to bring the Challenge Cup back to New York and show the world what our best and brightest startups have to offer,” said Kurt H. Becker, NYU School of Engineering vice dean of academic affairs. “Not only is this an exceptional opportunity for the city’s most promising startups to connect with the resources and mentors they need to take their companies to the next level—it is an excellent way for New Yorkers to embrace the global startup culture built on solving real problems.”

In addition to New York City, Challenge Cup 2015 will take place at 15 other regional sites, including Washington D.C., Chicago, Sydney, Toronto, Tel Aviv, Amman, Santiago, Nairobi, Mumbai, 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.

Additional dates and judges for the Challenge Cup Competition will be announced in the coming weeks. To power Challenge Cup 2015, and ensure the best startups and venture partners have a seat at the table, 1776 has forged partnerships with New Enterprise Associates, the world’s largest venture capital firm, Revolution, the Case Foundation, Capital Factory, Rocketspace, Oasis 500, and many more to be announced in the coming weeks. Other confirmed incubator partners include iHub, Betahaus, and NDRC.

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 throughout the world. 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.

“The Challenge Cup is the best platform out there for sharing innovative, world-changing ideas with the investors and mentors you need to be successful—and we’re absolutely thrilled to partner with NYU to bring the competition back to New York City,” said 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield. “And this year, the launch of ChallengeX, a new feeder competition, allows us to cast our net even wider, giving more startups the opportunity to present their ideas in front of mentors, judges, and investors around the world.”

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. 

ABOUT 1776

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 the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering Incubators

The NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering is shaping the innovation economy through its three incubators – key engines of the school's commitment to i²e (invention, innovation and entrepreneurship). The School of Engineering incubators provide guidance, expertise, and resources to entrepreneurs, helping their ventures grow, while attracting talent and funding to the school. The incubators also provide collaborative spaces where faculty, students, and alumni engage with the tech community.

The incubators are a public-private-academic partnership where young engineers are nurtured by university partners with support from government and the private sector. They provide startups with administrative support in addition to access to talent, markets, capital, research and resources. A strong network and environment predicated on success allow startups to flourish.