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October 21 - March 26

Challenge Cup is a global competition to identify the most promising startups focused on solving the world’s biggest challenges in education, energy & sustainability, health, and transportation & cities.

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How the Challenge Cup Works

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.

From there, eight companies (two in each category) will move on to the five-minute pitch round and four finalists will win a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the weeklong Challenge Festival.

Candidates for the Challenge Cup competition are startups that are compelling, world changing, and highly scalable, and that aim to make tangible differences in peoples’ lives, not just build the hottest new app.

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.




4 startups from each Challenge Cup competition, resulting in 64 winners from around the world, will win the following prizes:

  • TRAVEL: expense-paid (flight and hotel) 1 week trip to Washington, DC for the Global Finals during May 2015 where there will be over $650,000 in prizes available.
  • MENTORSHIP & CONNECTIONS: 5-day program including workshops, galas, roundtables, and private meetings with executives, corporate partners, investors, and entrepreneurs.
  • EXPOSURE:  significant PR & marketing, a dedicated 1776 writer covering all events, coverage through media partners, and distribution through global media channels. Last year, there were over 75 articles written about Challenge Cup and the competitors in global publications.
  • COMMUNITY: ties with growing startups in your industry & others from around the world.

Industry-Specific Prizes Presented by:

  • EDUCATION: The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools is thrilled to invite all Challenge Cup regional winners with a K-12 focus to the 15th annual National Charter Schools Conference, A Chance for Every Child. Winners will have the opportunity to present at the conference, and will receive a voucher to cover travel, lodging and event registration. The National Charter Schools Conference is the largest national gathering of charter school professionals, supporters, and advocates from across the country, bringing teachers, administrators, board members, and policymakers together for three days to share their innovative practices and inspiring stories. This year’s National Charter Schools Conference will take place in New Orleans, a city at the forefront of education reform and innovation, from June 21-24.
  • EDUCATION:The American Council on Education (“ACE”) is pleased to invite selected Challenge Cup regional winners with a higher education focus to its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. For entrepreneurs working in the postsecondary education space, the ACE Annual Meeting provides access to senior campus decision makers and other industry experts. Through formal sessions and informal networking, participants address pressing leadership issues, such as diversity, data-driven decision making, innovation and equity, global engagement, competency-based learning, and the current policy and political environment in the U.S. ACE will cover the registration fee and provide a travel stipend for those winners attending the conference.
  • HEALTH: ACC to provide up to 16 health care finalists with an expenses-paid trip to ACC.15 in San Diego, CA in March to present their companies to potential clients and investors.
  • CITIES: Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America): ITS America to invite Challenge Cup regional winners with a transportation focus to the ITS America 2015 Annual Meeting in Pittsburg, PA from June 1-3rd. ITS America to pay travel stipends of $800 to companies traveling from North America and $1,500 for those traveling from abroad. ITS America, in conjunction with 1776, will define “transportation focus” upon completion of each regional competition. The Intelligent Transportation Society of America (ITS America) is the nation’s largest organization dedicated to advancing the development and deployment of Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) to improve mobility, increase connectivity, and build a safer, smarter, more efficient and sustainable surface transportation network.



Out of the 64 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



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