New York’s Open Innovation Search for Big Ideas
New York’s 'NYC Next Idea' is an open innovation launching pad for new entrepreneurial ventures that will turn into cutting-edge business ventures. A smartphone-powered key takes the top prize in 2013.
New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), United States
“Entrepreneurs are the pioneers, the visionaries, the game changers that drive innovation and create new and exciting businesses that sustain the vibrancy of any city,” said Seth. W. Pinsky, President of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC).
“New York’s ability to remain as the world’s business capital will require us to continue to nurture and expand our entrepreneurial sector.”
To this end, and recognising that brilliant ideas can come from anywhere, the NYCEDC hosts an annual open innovation competition for new business concepts. It is open to students from international universities to develop ideas that will be executed in the city.
Boosting Innovation and Entrepreneurial Sectors
The contest isn’t only a search for innovations, but also a way of luring promising start-ups to establish themselves in the city. It is a key part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to strengthen New York’s entrepreneurial community and to increase the city’s visibility as a major centre for innovation.
There are three competition rounds and the final stage involves in-person presentations at a live event in New York. Those who make it this far are provided with access to business resources and networking opportunities with investors, entrepreneurs and government officials.
The winners of the 2013 open innovation contest were three entrepreneurs from Munich, Germany for their smartphone-powered virtual key. The concept was selected from a competitive pool of 220 entries from 40 countries.
Their winning brainchild is KisiBox, a smartphone-managed entry security system for buildings, apartments and other spaces. It is basically a key in a phone that allows users access to their homes from anywhere in the world. The technology does away with physical keys - just press a button on the phone to enter a KisiBox-enabled property.
The idea was born out of team members’ frustrations at not being able to let friends go into their homes when they were away.
While similar virtual key technologies exist, this new “personal doorman” has an innovation that lets users share the virtual keys with others for however long they like. For example, a delivery service or a guest can be given the virtual key for a particular day or days.
KisiBox has also been designed to do away with the problem of lost keys. However, there’s always the problem of what happens if you then lose your smartphone. Kisi has an answer for that.
All a user’s details are stored in the cloud which means they can be accessed by another device. There is also a backup of typing in a pin code.
Prize Money and Future Plans
The winning team was presented with a check for $35,000 to help them launch in New York as well as office space at the Columbia Business Labs incubator. The plan is to launch in New York and Munich first followed by expansion to other markets.
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