The electrified atmosphere of Europe’s largest innovation marketplace heated up when our own challenge finalists took the stage and pitched their disruptive digital ventures to a panel of industry luminaries. With onlookers in their seats, and finalists anxiously awaiting the culmination of a six-month-long competition, judges rendered their decision on the spot.
I am thrilled and honored to announce the three ultimate winners of this year’s Innovation Grand Challenge:
- Streamroot, France (first place winner, $150,000 prize): Centralized video optimization network improves speed, quality of service, and global reach. Streamroot offers a secure and coordinated mesh network of viewers watching the same content, providing video segments from the source that can provide them more quickly and thereby diminishing stress on saturated servers.
- Gestoos, Spain (second place winner, $75,000 prize): Cameras leveraging Artificial Intelligence, Gestural Interaction, IoT and Multimodal locations to see and understand people’s movements, gestures and behavior in any environment and context. Gestoos is the “brains behind the eyes,” alerting, for example, distracted drivers to be more attentive or autonomous cars to take over.
- Dedrone, United States (third place winner, $25,000): Automated, 3D aerial security platform identifies unauthorized drones, protects critical installations and ensures safe drone usage. Dedrone’s goal is to become the leading drone detection company, delivering the world’s first lower airspace surveillance system.
A panel of judges selected the three winners after all finalists made well-rehearsed investor pitches earlier in the day. All the finalists had already survived successive rounds of competition that began last May, setting themselves apart from more than 5,700 entries in 160-plus countries.
Beyond their compelling presentations, judges also scored the ventures on criteria such as customer value, potential for market growth, disruptive nature and uniqueness from the competition, compatibility with Cisco’s and our partner’s strategic focus, leadership and talent, and likelihood for success.
“What an amazing experience. What an exciting time! All finalists earned tremendous admiration and inspired everyone who gathered for the live event,” said Helder Antunes, Cisco’s senior director of corporate development technology who served as host and master of ceremonies. “Co-innovation ideas are overflowing throughout the conference, but our three winners rose to the top because of their unique potential to change the game in key industry markets.”
These startup stars now embark on an incredible co-innovation journey to jumpstart their ventures. In addition to the $250,000 prize money they will share, each startup will gain access to Cisco’s Innovation Centers, premier resources, mentorships and vast opportunities with partners and investors to accelerate go-to-market engagements.
In addition to congratulating this year’s winners, I want to thank our valued partners at TTTech, who helped us run the challenge from beginning to end, and co-hosted the finals. We could not have done it without you!
I also want to single out the many eminent judges who spent untold hours analyzing the merits of our entries. More than 100 experts both inside and outside Cisco had the excruciatingly difficult task of poring over thousands of entries and narrowing the field based on detailed criteria.
Our esteemed judges in Lisbon also deserve special recognition for their own time and talented commitment to help discover the world’s best innovation talent:
- Shaun Cooley, CTO IoT and Industries, Cisco
- Marius Ghenea, Investment Director, 3TS Capital Partners
- Wolfgang Leindecker, Vice President, TTTech
- Aneet Morar, Head of Partnerships, Innovation and Digital Development, Lloyds Banking Group
- Dan O’Toole, Early Stage Investor, Notion Captial
- Marek Rubasinski, Director, Sky Startup Investments and Partnerships
Thanks to this growing community, the r-evolution of disruptive innovation has become the new normal. The Innovation Grand Challenge both ignites and reflects this unrelenting momentum. This year’s challenge in particular reinforced my belief that startups and new ideas for digital transformation continue to mature, diversify and grow exponentially year over year.
We’re experiencing an historic period of hyper innovation, enabled by Internet of Things (IoT) technologies to digitize industry, government and society. As just one data point, participation in our annual challenge has nearly doubled each of the past three years.
And according to Accenture, the digital economy will account for 25 percent of the global economy by 2020—up from 15 percent in 2005 and 22 percent in 2015. With mass digitization pervading all industries, I am convinced the next wave of this revolution will come from inter-connected ecosystems linked to the leading digital platforms. Platform-based partnerships built around co-innovation will accelerate the development, value, and scalability of the most brilliant ideas.
That’s why I get so excited about the Innovation Grand Challenge every year. In addition to the challenge itself, we always discover new talent, forge new relationships and renew lasting ones. At our Web Summit booth, Helder and his team of strategic innovators are blazing new trails of opportunity with innovators all week long.
This year’s challenge reinforced another one of my strong beliefs: Innovation can truly come from anywhere, and co-innovation can take it everywhere.