Alert to all startups, entrepreneurs and developers with digital breakthroughs to disrupt the world!

Cisco’s innovation bullet train is about to leave the station. Last call to hop on board this high-speed express line is less than three weeks away — Aug. 31!

Don’t miss the train destined for new frontiers of opportunity! Enter here before Aug. 31.IGC web home page

Called the Innovation Grand Challenge 2016, #CIGC16, this will be the third consecutive year that we are calling on innovators around the world to compete for a portion of $250K in cash prizes, game-changing development support, mentoring and more. Once we select winners in November (see timetable below), we will help them accelerate technologies and solutions on our digital platform that transform countries, companies, and cities.

All passengers (entrants) on board this train though will reap valuable experience that goes far beyond the potential for rewards and recognition. Tom Caldwell, co-founder and EVP of Products at CyberFlow Analytics, and one of last year’s winners, recently told me, “I encourage all startups to enter the competition and go through the experience. Focus on the customer’s problem and highlight the use cases for how you deliver true value in a disruptive manner.”

We announced this year’s challenge at the Pioneers Festival on May 24. Since then, more than 2,350 entries have poured in, which is strong double-digit growth from last year’s competition. Momentum around the digital revolution continues to speed ahead.

Submissions again this year represent countries around the globe, but currently the most hail from India, the United States and Brazil — maybe the Rio Olympics inspired local talent. We would love to see greater participation from rock-star innovators in the Asia Pacific, Eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa regions. At Cisco, we know that disruptive innovation can come from anyone, anywhere! So we’re looking high and low, wide and far.

Early entries already reflect a wealth of electrifying ideas:

  • A startup in France wants to “fingerprint” packages to track them and prevent counterfeiting
  • In nearby Switzerland, they’re developing smart floor panels to identify visitors or citizens
  • Across the world in Australia, they’re creating a real-time location system for workers across all industries to interact with and optimize smart assets
  • A startup in Portugal is focused on leveraging DNA analysis and an information platform to personalize the healthcare experience between physicians and patients
  • And in Brazil, a startup is developing algorithms to help teachers better analyze the performance of students.

IGC TimetableWe’re not showing favorites here, but just a handful of random proposals that reflect the broad scope of early entries. We won’t begin official judging and selection of the 15 semifinalists until after the Aug. 31 entry deadline.

The Innovation Grand Challenge appeals to all innovators, entrepreneurs, developers, researchers and students to submit disruptive ideas for digital transformation in industry and government. Whether it’s the cloud, middleware, fog or applications, we’re focusing on better outcomes for transportation, manufacturing, infrastructure, smart + connected communities, education, healthcare, and retail.

The Innovation Grand Challenge opens new doors to big opportunity. Since winning the challenge two years ago, relayr CEO Josef Brunner told me that venture investments, vital partnerships in new markets and “co-innovation engagements” with major cities and sports stadiums have soared.

And what’s happened to last year’s winners? Green City Solutions, CyberFlow Analytics, and Eigen Innovations won last year. Excerpts from my recent catch-up conversations are below:

  • “Winning the Cisco Innovation Grand Challenge gave us much more visibility to new customers and new partnerships on a global basis,” Cyberflow’s Caldwell said. “It accelerated our credibility in the market for both Industrial IoT (Internet of Things) and Enterprise IT.”
  • “We were – and still are – astonished by the size of Cisco’s network, their willingness to connect us to people and their openness in sharing their resources with us,” said Zhenliang Wu, CIO of Green City Solutions. “We had amazing and knowledgeable mentors from all over the world that supported us with invaluable advice. And together with Cisco, we’ve formed a partnership for a Smart City project in Paris.” Click here for more.
  • “Cisco is a leader in IoT and has global reach,” Scott Everett, CEO of Eigen Innovations, recently told me. “Getting to work with them has enabled us to learn directly from thought leaders about emerging technologies and trends within the space. In addition to that, Cisco has helped propel us by introducing us into the IoT community and contacts within it.

Like these past winners, judges will narrow the thousands of entrants to three winners after successive rounds of semifinalist and finalist competitions. Winners receive a share of $250,000 to jumpstart their ventures, access to Cisco’s global network of Innovation Centers, technology tools, mentorship, marketing support and introductions to partners and customers.

For Cisco, we forge relationships with some of the most promising innovation talent today. No single company can extract the full value of digitization by itself. Collectively, we can lead the digital revolution.

We anticipated the overwhelming response to this year’s Innovation Grand Challenge, and made plenty of room for more passengers. Seats are still left on the digital express, but there has never been a better time than right now to make sure you get one. You won’t want to miss this train when it leaves the station on Aug. 31.


#NeverBetter, #CIGC16


Alex Goryachev

Senior Director, Innovation Strategy & Programs

Corporate Strategic Innovation Group