Crowdsourcing Competition to Inspire Russian Innovation

Published Aug-05-11

A landmark crowdsourcing competition in Russia, powered by the Cisco I-prize selects three potentially game-changing technological solutions.

Skolkovo Foundation, Russia

The Story:

Crowdsourcing Competition to Inspire Russian Innovation To help give innovation a boost in Russia, the Skolkovo Foundation and Cisco launched a crowdsourcing competition for entrepreneurs, students, technologists and innovators who are residents and citizens of the Russian Federation.

The Skolkovo Innovation Award looked for innovative technologies in three specific areas: energy efficiency, healthcare and information technology. The three-stage event was launched in November 2010 and the response was colossal, surpassing all expectations. During the first three months 2,318 ideas were submitted from more than 10,000 people from hundreds of locations right across Russia.

Ideas to Fuel New Businesses

The competition came about as part of a commitment that Cisco Chairman and CEO John Chambers had made to the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to launch a long-term program to support the sustainable development of innovation in Russia. The aim was to attract ideas that could form the basis of start-up ventures that would be based in the ‘Technopolis Skolkovo’, a state sponsored hub of intellectual creativity for the development of ideas in numerous fields. The technopolis has set its sights on becoming Russia’s Silicon Valley.

“I am confident that this contest will demonstrate how innovation can play a major role and contribute to the growth and development of the Russian economy," Marthin De Beer, Senior Vice President, Emerging Technologies Group for Cisco said before the launch of the crowdsourcing competition.

Selecting Finalists

The ideas were collected through a specially created website and judged according to a number of set criteria including quality of submission, the opportunity in the Russian market and the transformational nature of the idea. The top 24 teams were then invited to develop their ideas further for a panel of judges that included Paul Betsis, general director, Cisco Russia; Alexander Turkot, executive director, IT Cluster at Skolkovo Innovation Center; and Valery Stolyar, executive secretary, Russian Telemedicine Association.

They whittled the teams down to six finalists who presented their projects at an event at Moscow City International Business Center.

Three Grand Prize Winners

The first prize of 3 million rubles (approx. USD $108,000) went to a team from Moscow led by Evgeni Smetanin. Called “Strategy on Carpet” the project transforms computer game fantasies into reality by transferring the action to interactive robots. The winners said they are going to use the prize money to build a prototype of this next generation gaming technology which will be shown to potential investors at the Chicago Toy Fair.

The second prize of 1.5 million rubles (approx. USD $54,000) went to another team from Moscow for their project called, “OKO Contactless Device Control System”. The concept does away with the mouse and mouse pad and allows users to operate a computer with only their eyesight.

And the third prize was awarded to Marta Egorova, a graduate student from the Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute. She won 750,000 rubles (approx. USD $27,000) for her project, titled “Smart Conversion of Photo Collection into Photo Gallery. The idea is an easy way to sort photos and build photo books or galleries.

All of the Grand Prize winners were also invited to a special training program at the Cisco Entrepreneurship Institute. This will help them to develop their concepts into viable businesses.

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