What do you mean by "Smart City"?
Smart Cities develop and use digital technology and innovative solutions to serve a city’s population, improving efficiency and quality of life for residents.
What is the typical team structure and composition?
Depending on the problem you choose and your proposed solution, your team might be best as a small few or a mighty large group!
We offer no constraints on team size, although we encourage teams to reflect upon needed skills, timeframe, outside constraints/time management, and the virtual format as variables in assessing your team composition.
How do I assemble or join a team?
Teams are welcome to collaborate with friends or colleagues, and/or find a team through our “speed networking event”.
Can the students participate in the challenge?
Yes. There is a student track at the challenge in which the student teams will be able to participate. They will also be able to attend two I-Corps/ICAP workshops which will make them be eligible to receive a $3,000 grant to participate in the I-Corps Program and conduct customer interviews.
Do I have to live in the DC area to compete?
No! While we are approaching this Smart City Challenge with a regional focus, we welcome national – and global – participation.
We think that’s a wonderful perk of our virtual format for participants! We find that Smart City challenges and solutions frequently have broad applicability around the world. Over time, we dream of scaling this event to reach many other cities.
How do I find a mentor?
Each team will be assigned a mentor to support the process and to provide guidance and feedback. We will match mentors and teams using team areas of interest and later their problem statement and proposal.
What is the problem I will help solve?
You will have significant flexibility in framing a problem of your choosing – provided that you have like-minded teammates who have a similar passion in the problem and finding a solution!
Many Smart City issues were discussed at our opening event on January 23, which you can view here.
Teams will refine and define their problems, with guidance from their mentors, during the second week of the competition.
What resources and data are available to me?
We will also be providing a list of publicly available resources and data, where teams can learn more about topics and use data to inform their projects.
We also plan to offer perspectives from our partner thought leaders, subject matter experts, and mentors to offer context and insight into community challenges and high-impact opportunities that need creative sweat equity from our teams!
What are the judging criteria?
All proposals will be judged on
1) How well they advance equity in the region
2) Overall regional impact, the impact on the sector(s) highlighted in the proposal
3) How well they foster collaboration and innovation
4) Whether the solution is practical, or likely to be implemented.
Teams should submit a 4 minute pitch video that defines the problem and describes the solution which includes a business model and strategy of going to market.
Teams will be responsible for estimating the impact of their solution based on appropriate measures for their topic such as housing units created, commute times reduced, municipal return on investment, municipal savings, energy reductions, and service provision efficiencies.
Teams must also address how their solutions promote equity for all citizens (e.g., access, participation) or an underrepresented group.
What is the cost of participation?
We are asking for $30 for general “admission” ($15 for students) to help defray hosting and other expenses.
What is the time commitment?
The Challenge will last 6 weeks, from April 10 to May 25, 2023.
We estimate that successful teams collectively will spend about 10-20 hours each during the Challenge period, with the majority of that time scheduled amongst team members in collaboration with mentors.
Teams will meet at hybrid opening (4/10) and closing events (5/25) and we are planning to stream (and record) optional (but AWESOME!) speakers and panels as well. Finalists will need to participate in person on Thursday May 25 to be eligible for prizes.
- Up to $20,000 in prizes
- Pilot opportunities with Fairfax County and Dominion Energy
- Participation in Smart City Works and Dominion Innovation accelerator programs
- Hotelling in one of the Mason Enterprise Centers
- Amazon Web Services credits
- Business coaching
Prizes will be awarded based on innovation; equity and inclusivity; practicality of application; and regional impact (as outlined in the judging criteria).