Smart City Works to Host First Annual Smart City Challenge

Innovation competition focused on engaging diverse...

December 21, 2020

Innovation competition focused on engaging diverse teams to develop smart city solutions to kick off on January 23; Registration now open

Tysons, Va., December 21, 2020 – Smart City Works, Refraction, Fairfax County, Girls in Tech DC, The Universities at Shady Grove, and Virginia Tech will host the first annual Smart City Challenge, which will kick off on January 23.  Registration is now open for the month-long virtual competition with remarks from Virginia Governor Ralph Northam, Dominion Energy’s CEO Bob Blue and Virginia President Ed Baine, Virginia Tech’s Innovation Campus Executive Director Lance Collins, MITRE Labs General Manager and Chief Futurist Charles Clancy, and Fairfax County Deputy County Executive Rachel Flynn.

The Smart City Challenge is an innovation competition, in which teams create high-impact solutions to address the toughest smart city challenges in sectors including housing, transportation, health, broadband, energy, education, water, infrastructure, and public safety.  The goal of the Challenge is to advance equitable and inclusive opportunities for all people to thrive in the greater Washington, D.C. region. The Challenge, which will run from January 23 to February 18, also will host important discussions on smart city issues with key business, government and nonprofit leaders throughout the month.

Collaborators will have one month to build their teams and draw on Challenge resources, including expert mentors.  Winning teams will be selected based on innovation, regional impact, practicality of application, and equity and inclusivity by a judging panel of smart city experts.  More than $350,000 in cash and in-kind prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.  Winners will also have the valuable opportunity to do pilot projects with Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, or other Challenge partners.

The Challenge is open to all participants who are passionate about improving our region, from college students to entrepreneurs, technologists, and startups, with a special focus on including women and people of color.

“We and our partners are excited to continue to build on the Northern Virginia and DC region’s extraordinary innovation ecosystem with the Smart City Challenge, which will uncover impactful solutions to key challenges for our region and help us identify and develop local talent,” said Robert Mazer, co-founder of Smart City Works.

“The Smart City Challenge is the perfect opportunity to tap bright minds to improve the lives of all everyone in the Washington, DC area through technology, innovation and problem-solving,” added Refraction CEO Esther Lee.  “We are excited to bring together forward-thinking businesses, entrepreneurs, universities, government, and nonprofits to showcase collaboration and thought leadership.”

“Dominion Energy is proud to support the Smart City Challenge,” said Ed Baine, president of Dominion Energy Virginia. “We, too, are embracing innovation and new technology, as we look for new ways to reduce carbon and methane emissions and deliver cleaner energy to our customers. Innovation is at the heart of everything we are doing, from incorporating new technology into our operations to better serve customers and communities to developing offshore wind and rolling out the country’s largest electric school bus program.”

The Challenge will be supported by the generosity and partnership of ABS Capital, Amazon Web Services, Arlington County, Cox Business, Dominion Energy, City of Fairfax, Fairfax County, George Mason University, MITRE, Refraction, Smart City Works Venture Labs, TalaTek, The Universities at Shady Grove, and Virginia Tech.

To learn more about the Challenge and to register, visit:

About Smart City Challenge Organizers

Smart City Works is a nonprofit organization focused on solving urban challenges through innovation that fosters economic growth. Refraction is a nonprofit innovation hub that provides mentoring, programs and workspace to startups and high-growth companies.  Together, they lead the Northern Virginia Smart Region Initiative, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Working with partners, the Smart Region Initiative’s goal is to help make Northern Virginia a hot spot for smart city innovation and economic growth.

Fairfax County is Virginia’s largest county with 1.1 million residents and the home of eleven Fortune 500 companies and 8,700 technology companies benefiting from more than $3.2 billion in federal R&D investment last year. Girls in Tech DC is the regional chapter of the global nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the gender gap in technology and entrepreneurship.  The Universities at Shady Grove offers 80 degree programs from nine Maryland public universities.  Virginia Tech is the second largest public university in Virginia with a $522 million research portfolio.

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