Idea Challenge Returns with Four New Topic Areas – Apply Now!

By David Knight |

From Rennes to Helsinki and Munich to Eindhoven, the finals of the first part of the Idea Challenge were a big hit – proof of the depth of innovation and creativity that runs through Europe. And the competition, run by EIT ICT Labs, is back for more: The second round sees startups compete in the fields of Smart Energy Systems, Cyber Security & Privacy, Internet of Things and Urban Life & Mobility.

The contest sees startups and entrepreneurial teams enter in eight different categories in total, each focused around a different city in Europe which features an EIT presence.

Each city hosts a final in which three winners are picked, receiving €40,000, €25,000 and €15,000 as well as coaching and mentoring from business development experts, integration into future EIT activities and office space for six months. There is also access to some of the world’s leading universities, research institutes and companies, such as Siemens, SAP, IBM, Intel and Philips.

The hope is that the contest can help break down the barriers to true innovation within Europe a little; especially given that EIT – which is partly financed by the EU – won’t take any equity from the winners and therefore does not measure success in terms of seeing the startups exit for a huge profit, but rather by factors such as job creation.

In the first round of the Idea Challenge, 12 startups in the Health and Wellbeing, Cyber-Physical Systems, Smart Spaces and Future Cloud spaces won a total of €320,000, and are already working closely with the EIT ICT Labs Business Accelerator to further develop their ideas.

Now applications are open for the next batch:

  • Cyber Security and Privacy – the final will be held in Trento, Italy on November 13.
  • Internet of Things – the final will be held in Stockholm on November 13.
  • Urban Life and Mobility – the final will be held in London on November 20.
  • Smart Energy Systems – the final will be held in Berlin on October 31.

You have until September 30 to submit your entry. More than 300 applications from 25 EU countries were made for the first batch.

“Following the success of the first wave we are proud to empower even more talented teams in the next round,” said Willem Jonker, CEO of EIT ICT Labs. “ICT talents are at the heart of EIT ICT Labs as they help us to drive ICT innovation for economic growth and quality of life. We have a strong ecosystem that knows how to put innovation to work and we are looking forward to receiving your ideas.”

Jörg Land is a co-founder of Tinnitracks, which won first place in the Health and Wellbeing final. He said: “Winning the EIT ICT Labs idea challenge doesn’t only mean to win a renowned award, it is also about joining an amazing pan-European and extremely supportive network. We instantly got access to potential partners, have met the other companies from the Health and Wellbeing community and have been provided with a chance to attend major industry events as for example the Health Days in Stockholm. As an entrepreneur I do appreciate these opportunities especially, because they reflect the healthcare industry’s potential and give us a chance to compare our challenges and achievements to those of others and to learn from it.”

You can apply here – and if you do make it to the final, you will need to impress a panel of experts, consisting of both figures from within EIT ICT Labs and external judges. Joe Weinman, vice president of Telx and a former Idea Challenge jury member, said there was a complex set of factors that are taken into consideration, including “the market opportunity, the ability to execute, differentiated value proposition, profitable business model, clear costumer value, clarity of focus for the company, the ability to both make some progress immediately but also bridge and grow to a much larger market.”

So get cracking on your entry!