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The Challenge Festival is a week of events convening the people with the best ideas for global impact in education, energy & sustainability, health, and transportation & cities. Join 10,000+ leaders from around the world this May in Washington, D.C. to be part of the conversation.

May 8 – 16, 2015

The Challenge Festival will include industry conferences, galas, and the culmination of the Challenge Cup where over 70 entrepreneurs from around the world will compete for $650,000 in prizes.

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Tony Earley

Chairman, CEO, & President, Pacific Gas and Electric

Julian Castro

Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development

How the Challenge Festival Works

Challenge Festival

Challenge Festival is a week of events convening the people with the best ideas for global impact in education, energy & sustainability, health, transportation, and cities. From May 8 to 16, the Challenge Festival will include industry conferences, galas, and the culmination of the Challenge Cup where over 70 entrepreneurs from around the world will compete for $650,000 in prizes. Join 10,000+ business leaders, government officials, innovators, investors, and promising entrepreneurs from around the world, this May in Washington, D.C. thanks to our presenting partner:

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Focused on innovation in areas such as health, education and energy, the Challenge Festival will highlight disruptive thinkers and showcase highly scalable companies from around the globe that are tackling seemingly insurmountable problems and improving the lives of millions.

Each day of Challenge Festival 2015 will feature one industry—including a full-day conference convening expert panels to discuss the biggest challenges and potentially high-impact solutions, the Challenge Cup Semifinals featuring over 16 entrepreneurs from around the world innovating in that field, and a VIP gala bringing together industry best and brightest. The schedule includes:

Need to know where to park, what to wear or have more questions? Visit our FAQ & Logistics page here!

Want to learn more? You can start by meeting the competing startups and browsing photos of our amazing venues for this year’s events. Also, stay tuned for the latest Challenge Festival updates & speaker announcements by signing up for the 1776 newsletter!

Highlights from 2014

In 2014, 1776 launched the first annual Challenge Festival. The Festival showed the inspiring side of Washington, D.C. that gets things done. Relationships and partnerships were cultivated between entrepreneurs, policymakers, investors and customers in an innovative environment, forging connections far beyond the scope of the week.

Take a look at the highlights below to see who was there representing some of the most disrupting thinking in these industries; the amazing venues in Washington, D.C. we celebrated and who won the Challenge Cup global finals!

The Challenge Festival is a weeklong series of, idea-driven talks and inspiring startup pitches. Last year we heard from some amazing speakers including….

  • Eric Topol, MD, Author of the The Creative Destruction of Medicine
  • Ogi Kavazovic, VP of Marketing and Strategy, OPower
  • Steve Case, The Case Foundation
  • Rachel Holt, Uber
  • Aneesh Chopra, First CTO of the United States
  • …and more!


We assembled a group of industry-experts and investors in each to make the final decision on which startup would take home the grand prize. Some of our judges included…

  • Amit Mukherjee, NEA
  • Diana Stepner, Pearson
  • Jeff Selingo, Author of College Unbound
  • Mark Smith, MD, Director of MedStar Institute for Innovation
  • Grant Allen, ABB Ventures

1776 also handed out $650,000 in prizes to the most inspiring entrepreneurs from around the world building profitable, scalable businesses. The winners included:

  • Global Winner: HandUp – Provides a technology platform for charitable giving to the homeless and allows donors to track their donations.  – Profile
  • Mellowcabs – Manufactures—and will operate—attractive, electric mini-cabs that provide public transport in cities. – Profile
  • CancerIQ – Using data, they provide oncologists with the information needed to correctly diagnose and identify high-risk patients.
  • MediSafe – The innovative app delivers convenient reminders to take medication at the right time and with the right dosage. – Profile
  • PlugSurfing – A Berlin-based startup and the world’s largest charging point for electric cars, e-bikes and electric scooters.  – Profile
  • WaterLens – Solves the need for a faster way to test hydraulic-fracturing waters or drilling fluids for harmful chemicals. – Profile
  • EduCanon – A flipped and blended interactive video learning platform.
  • –  a new approach to digital language learning with a free, cross-platform solution that combines an online dictionary with a smart, personalized flashcard system to teach beginner through advanced learners via web immersion. – Profile

The Challenge Festival is also a celebration and a time to make those key connections. Some of the amazing places we held galas and networking opportunities included…. 

  • Mansion on O
  • Dock 5 at Union Market
  • Heurich House
  • US Institute of Peace
  • Meridian House
  • And so many more


We’re excited for the Challenge Festival to return this year with even more inspiring ideas that have real potential to change our lives for the better. Join us this year from May 8-16 to hear the ideas you can’t miss and the celebration you want to join.

Challenge Cup

The Challenge Cup is an annual world-wide competition that spans 16 cities in 11 countries to identify the most promising startups with the best ideas to solve the world’s biggest challenges.

At each global Challenge Cup event, as many as 40 startups present a one-minute pitch in our four categories: energy and sustainability, education, health and transportation and cities.

Through Challenge Cup, entrepreneurs are not only connected to the investors and mentors they need to succeed, but corporations and policymakers in some of the world’s most entrenched industries and government entities are introduced to these innovators’ fresh ideas that have the potential to solve big, difficult challenges.


Out of the regional winners, the top 8 will win the following prizes:

  • CASH: 650,000 in total prizes; semifinalists will receive $50,000 in an investment from 1776 and the overall winner of the Challenge Cup will win $150,000 in an investment from 1776.
  • CONNECTIONS: several of the global sponsors will also award the top category winners with invitations and travel expenses for their annual conferences, where startups will be able to meet potential customers, partners, or investors.

There will also be a “crowd favorite” cash prize for the audience’s favorite startup from around the world.


Become a partner

Challenge Cup isn’t just for startups. Corporate partners provide invaluable support to our competing startups through mentorship, participation in the judging process, and opening doors to valuable connections. At the same time, our corporate partners benefit by building relationships with hundreds of startups around the world, gaining early exposure to the newest ideas and latest innovations in truly critical industries.

To discuss opportunities to join our global community email us at






Industry Presenting

Industry Gold

Presenting VIP Reception

Opening Party

Closing Party

Media Partners



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