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Meet the 64 Challenge Festival Finalists

Over the course of the first annual Challenge Cup competition, 5,000 startups around the world applied to compete. From the initial pool of 350 participants, we narrowed the field to 4 finalists in  each of 16 regional competitions. 

The result? An ultra-competitive bracket of 64 startup finalists who earned themselves a trip to the Challenge Festival finals in Washington, D.C. next month. The weeklong festival—which kicks off exactly one month from today—will feature panels, parties and, of course, plenty of startup pitches. 

Meet the finalists now—and then go RSVP for a badge to guarantee your seat at the finals.

Smart Cities



eduCanon (Washington, DC) – eduCanon is an online learning environment to build and share interactive video lessons. The eduCanon platform incorporates teaching pedagogy and the best practices of online video environments, planned learning routes, formative assessments and personalization.

Youtopia (Chicago, IL) – Youtopia is a student engagement platform that provides plug-and-play gamification tools that incentivize students to become more engaged in their school and community. Youtopia matures with students from kindergarten to college. Now educators have a fun and easy way to inspire their students to do all of the good things they want them to do and a way to reward them for going above and beyond.

We Study In (Moscow, Russia) – We Study In is a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform, which helps prospective students choose a university and apply there. There are now more than 80 We Study In advisors who can cover the 2000 best worldwide educational programs held in the platform’s free database. Also, We Study In provides access to relevant information on each program, including entry requirements, documents, skills required, deadlines and contacts.

WriteReaderAps (Berlin, Germany) – Write to Read is a new app for children from ages 3 to 10 years old, and it teaches the children to read by writing. The app is tested primarily by schoolteachers in cooperation with leading Danish scientific researchers.

Fluency (London, UK) – Fluency is a learning platform and community that helps young people develop skills, gain real-world experience and get access to work opportunities. As a company with a social mission, we want to help some of the 75 million unemployed young people worldwide find work.

SmartestK12 (Los Angeles, CA) – SmartestK12 transforms the classroom and helps teachers understand each student’s needs to get results that matter. SmartestK12 enables teachers to seamlessly receive personalized student data on any classroom document to then instantly make actions. SmartestK12 is building tools to help teachers transition to new technologies, quickly incorporate the Common Core State Standards and effortlessly use data to differentiate the learning experience for each student.

Pathgather (New York, NY) – Pathgather is an enterprise-learning platform that connects the workforce around professional and personal development. It allows employees to discover, recommend and review the best learning content, track their learning progress and share learning paths with coworkers.

BrightLoop (Boston, MA) – BrightLoop is a tool for teachers to capture student insights. It allows teachers to turn their daily notes and observations about students into personalized student instruction in the classroom.

Aceable (Austin, TX) – Aceable is an online platform that adds game mechanics, entertainment and mobility to required-education courses such as driver’s education.

CampuScene (Denver, CO) – CampuScene is a college-information platform. It is the only platform on which applicants can view digital content, virtual tours, mobile search, interactive maps, social media and more.

EduKar (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – EduKar is an innovative way for people to invest in students’ training, offering financial support and various other services to complement their training.

Squirrelthat (Cape Town, South Africa) – Squirrelthat is a platform that allows users to capture their learning immediately on any device. Users can then choose what they want to do with it—including share it with groups with similar interests. (Tel Aviv, Israel) – takes 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.

iMedia.FM Limited (Beijing, China) – iMedia is a web-based, English-language program for Chinese children from ages 4 to 11 years old. The platform includes integrated lessons, exercises, games, assessments and reports with offline materials (including books, readers and merchandise) for early learners and for those with limited exposure to English. (New Delhi, India) – RockYourPaper allows users to search over 1 million research articles from 1,600 open-access platforms and university digital libraries. It helps the user publish and share their research work with great peer review, in three easy steps. It also helps the user grow their academic network by allowing them to find and connect researchers with same subject interest.

UClass (San Francisco, CA) – UClass is a venture-backed, Common-Core-lesson marketplace that aims to disrupt the curriculum industry. On UClass, both teachers and textbook companies sell their vetted resources in bite-sized formats.



Ethical Electric (Washington, DC) – Ethical Electric is an energy company that does good by powering as many American homes and businesses as possible with 100 percent clean energy from local, renewable sources like wind and solar. Ethical Electric sells clean energy from local solar and wind farms and does not sell energy from coal, natural gas, nuclear or oil. The company has a simple rule: if it burns, it isn’t clean. Part of the proceeds from supplying 100-percent clean energy supports progressive organizations and causes at the direction of Ethical Electric members.

myPower (Chicago, IL) – myPower is a running companion that clips to the user’s hip and captures their kinetic energy as he or she runs. myPower stores this energy so the user can charge their smartphone or other mobile device later in the day. Running with myPower for a year can offset the carbon footprint of itself and the device it charges. myPower is comfortable, stylish, and can be worn when biking or walking as well.

EcoCat (Moscow, Russia) – EcoCat is a producer of catalytic heaters and filters, used for the decomposition of combustion products. Doing this eliminates heat exchange and forced ventilation, reducing heating costs by a factor of four.

Plugsurfing (Berlin, Germany) – PlugSurfing is the solution to finding electric car charging points and barrier-free payment for EV charging. By merging multiple data sources, including real-time APIs direct from charging point providers, as well as static crowdsourced data from the charging point community, the PlugSurfing apps and websites are able to display the world’s largest database of charging points. With a database unrivaled in terms of both quality and quantity, PlugSurfing is the answer to range anxiety and wider EV adoption.

Open Utility (London, UK) – Open Utility is a marketplace that enables consumers to buy energy directly from producers, giving a fairer price to everyone.

Enervee (Los Angeles, CA) – Enervee is the world’s first energy-smart scoring platform. The Enervee Score brings a MPG (miles per gallon) style rating to the purchasing of electronics and appliances (soon cars & real-estate), making it easy for consumers and businesses to save energy, save money and help the planet. The company distributes their content via real-time scored web channels for integration in four target markets: publishers, utilities, government and owned and operated sites.

Simply Grid (New York, NY) – Simply Grid uses proprietary technology to provide on-site, self-service electricity via industry standard charging stations and in-wall outlets to customers who initiate service with their mobile phones.

nCarbon (Austin, TX) – A low cost solution for auto manufacturers to meet fleetwide fuel efficiency standards by improving Micro-Hybrid technology.

WaterLens (Austin, TX) – WaterLens is a patented and patent-pending system for real-time chemical analysis of water and other fluids that can be performed at the well site.

Avivid (Denver, CO) – Avivid uses the electrocoagulation process, which solves the problem of scaling to large water volumes. The electrocoagulation technology uses sacrificial anodes to place highly reactive ions in contaminated water solutions.

Solarbrush (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – Solarbrush uses robots that clean solar panels in arid regions, such as deserts. Current methods of manual maintenance are both costly and dangerous in high-heat and high-voltage environments.

Khaya Power (Cape Town, South Africa) – Khaya Power provides small amounts of power to those still living on the paraffin grid by means of a portable battery combined with a charging station that makes use of grid or solar power. The batteries are contained in small, secure recycled 5-liter plastic containers and swapped out at local ‘charging stations’ once their power is depleted.

Winflex (Tel Aviv, Israel) – Winflex is a company in the renewable energy field that has developed a new patent-pending rotor and unique wind turbine design.

J&F Technology (Beijing, China) – J&F Technology is an innovative company engaged in the design, manufacturing and supply of high-quality automotive equipment to worldwide markets.

Longman Suntech Energy (New Delhi, India) – Longman Suntech Energy realizes that Solar Power is the right solution for India’s Energy needs and shortage problems. Thus, Solar Power offers solutions with no upfront cost—an innovative and pioneering concept in India.

Enact Systems (San Francisco, CA) – enACT is a home-energy marketplace that allows users to plan money-saving projects, view live bids from local service providers and financiers in an area, schedule appointments with them and more. enACT partners with major utilities and plans to expand beyond California soon.



Dorsata (Washington, DC) – Dorsata aims to improve patient outcomes and reduce the cost of delivering care by providing a centralized platform for clinical pathway development and ultimately EHR implementation. Dorsata is developing a system through which clinicians can collaboratively develop, discover, and implement their pathways into their day-to-day workflow of order entry.

Caremerge (Chicago, IL) – Caremerge is a health care coordination and transition platform. Their mobile and web apps allow senior living communities to simplify their care coordination efforts with various onsite and offsite stakeholders (facility staff, physicians, hospitals, and families), all of which provide care for residents.

Cancer IQ (Chicago, IL) – Cancer IQ enables data-driven personalized cancer care. This startup offers a web-based service that closes gaps in knowledge by giving oncologists access to large, curated repository of similar patients, guidelines, and network of providers at top institutions and by using algorithms to interpret molecular diagnostic data and identify high risk patients.

ChronoKair (Wildcard)  –ChronoKair is a smartphone & tablet application that provides a comprehensive and visual summary of the patient’s hospital course and/or treatment record as well as their projected trajectory on one screen using real time objective data in an easily consumable design. This technology facilitates and reinforces the communication and decisions made during “shift change” when doctors hand off their patients, daily rounding, patient care phone calls and other telemedicine. It is easily navigable and customizable by each provider.

Neural Analytics (Los Angeles, CA) – Bleeding or swelling of the brain due to head trauma can increase the pressure inside a patient’s skull (ICP), which is dangerous and may be fatal if left untreated. Recognizing this unmet need, researchers in the UCLA Department of Neurosurgery have developed a non-invasive alternative to assess elevated ICP, and Neural Analytics is building RapidICP, a hand-held head trauma screening tool that encapsulates this technology.

Focus Fertility (New York, NY) – Focus Fertility is a suite of services that equips women and their partners with information they need to efficiently navigate the process of fertility treatments, saving them time, money and stress.

BeTH (Boston, MA) – BeTH develops high-impact, low-cost healthcare solutions for underserved populations.

Spot On Sciences (Austin, TX) – Spot on Sciences is an easy-to-use device for self-sampling and robust storage and shipment of blood samples. This product allows users to take a blood sample at any time, anywhere.

ePatientFinder (Austin, TX) – ePatientFinder is a tool that uses analytics technology to connect patients with cutting edge treatments which are recently approved by the FDA or still in clinical trials.

Asius Technologies (Denver, CO) – Asius Technologies offers a revolutionary, inflatable in-ear audio technology, the Ambrose Diaphonic Ear Lens. When used in hearing aids, headsets and ear buds, the Adel gives the user a richer sound quality, a custom fit, and a safe listening experience.

Medicinia (Sao Paulo, Brazil) – Medicinia is an alternative healthcare delivery model, based on online, high-frequency interactions to complement the traditional office-based, low-frequency model, increasing doctor productivity and patient satisfaction. It does this through a question and answer platform to connect patients with doctors and general practitioners with specialists.

Anasodiabitiz (Cape Town, South Africa) – Anasodiabitiz connects people, support groups, health care providers and companies that work together locally to make diabetes less of a scourge.

MediSafe (Tel Aviv, Israel) – MediSafe is a cloud-based, medication-management platform designed to understand the personal causes of non-adherence. The platform uses this information in real-time to create better patient engagement and raise medication adherence.

Coyote Bioscience (Beijing, China) – Coyote Bioscience makes innovative personal devices in Life Science and Molecular Diagnostics. The company minimizes all of the redundant features and makes the key functions more powerful and user-friendly. Coyote’s devices are easy to handle and set, which can save on labor costs significantly. (New Delhi, India) – provides an e-clinic platform for health coaches. The company allows health coaches to see more clients in less time by automating marketing and communication, allowing them to grow their clinics and bring down the cost overall for the patient.

ReferralMD (San Francisco, CA) – referralMD is a web application that offers a comprehensive, business-management solution designed to track and monetize health care referrals.


Smart Cities

RideScout (Washington, DC) – RideScout is a smartphone application that aggregates all ground transportation options around a user in real time. The RideScout mobile platform finds information on nearby buses, trains, taxis, and carsharing programs, while also integrating seamlessly with other transportation apps, displaying results on one simple interface.

Transit Labs (Washington, DC) – Transit Labs is a data analytics software company dedicated to building smarter cities by harnessing data to foster better informed decision-making. Transit Labs’s flagship application, the Transportation Application Platform, makes state, regional and local government more competitive for transportation funding and more effective with their existing resources across finance and operations. By tracking over 100 key performance measures in real-time and providing easily understood visualizations of this data, TAP informs, streamlines and speeds up the transit decision-making process to foster better, cheaper and safer transportation services.

CityScan (Chicago, IL) – CityScan helps, inspects, observes and predicts street-level activity and changes that impact on cities. CityScan helps government and large enterprises with large outdoor infrastructure assets. CityScan’s solution helps government and companies discover revenue, save on labor costs and increase life-safety conditions.

Hoard (Berlin, Germany) – (formerly einFach) Hoard is an app for the simple exchange of things and services via smart lockers at convenient locations in your city. Hoard solves the problem of handling all of the user’s daily stuff wherever he or she is, independent of opening hours and appointments.

Aunt Bertha (Austin, TX) – Aunt Bertha is a platform that makes it easy for people to find government and charitable programs in seconds (both web and mobile).

SocioTransit (London, UK) – SocioTransit is a marketplace that connects travelers with seekers. It is a way for a traveler to earn extra money during their travels and can be local, domestic or international travel. SocioTransit is an answer to daily life transport situations and getting things transported quickly at lower charges.

Bishop Peak Technology (Los Angeles, CA) – The Bishop Peak Technology platform enables private organizations and municipal transit agencies to rapidly deploy real-time vehicle tracking information, route schedules, and dispatch services to their users via mobile apps. The platform can deliver a completely branded solution in a matter of hours, automatically integrating with the user’s existing vehicle tracking hardware.

Soceana (New York, NY) – Soceana is a social media site for non-profits and corporations promoting volunteering and philanthropic giving. The social good generated not only benefits the local communities but also the corporations, via purposeful branding, engaged employees and effective giving.

Silverside Detectors (Boston, MA) – Silverside Detectors builds low-cost neutron sensors that can detect nuclear bomb material. The detectors can be embedded in traffic and urban infrastructure (roads, bridges, buildings) and networked together, to provide large-area detection against the threat of nuclear terrorism.

Reaction (Austin, TX) – Reaction is a rapid-response housing system for victims of all disasters. The initial product, the Exo Housing System, can be set up in two minutes or less without any machinery or tools needed. It is priced out to be cost competitive against any kind of existing shelter options in the marketplace today.

WeatherCloud (Denver, CO) – WeatherCloud aims to significantly decrease highway-related mortality and increase the overall efficiency and safety of the transportation infrastructure. The concept is based on the vehicle translator initiative at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), which is designed to treat cars and trucks on the road as mobile weather sensors. It will then take the data, interpret it, and gain insight into the conditions of the road.

Mellowcabs (Cape Town, South Africa) – Mellowcabs manufactures, and operates attractive, electric mini-cabs that provide public transport in cities. Our main source of income is not carrying passengers, but selling advertising space on, and in the vehicles. Passengers prefer rides in Mellowcabs to rides in taxis because Mellowcabs are flexible and very affordable. The cabs are manufactured in South Africa, and hold full international road-worthy status.

Pink Park (Tel Aviv, Israel) – Pink Park is the world’s first online parking marketplace to incorporate single spot sensors technology. The marketplace connects home and business owners who would like to earn money from renting their space with drivers in need of a convenient and cost-effective place to park.

ScanTrust (Beijing, China) – ScanTrust provides next-generation secure graphics that offer strong protection to counterfeiting. With secure graphics that can be managed through a digital workflow, printed with standard equipment and ink and verified with current smartphones, ScanTrust proposes the world’s first purely SaaS-based solution to the problem of counterfeiting. This allows any company to protect their brand, connect with consumers and collect market intelligence at an extremely competitive cost.

Spaceship App (New Delhi, India) – Spaceship is a ride-sharing and carpool smartphone app.

HandUp (San Francisco, CA) – HandUp is a direct donation system for the homeless and others in need in a given neighborhood. With HandUp, users can donate to a specific person via their web profile or SMS, learn about their story and needs and hear updates on their progress.

Melissa Steffan Headshot

Melissa Steffan

Melissa is the former assistant editor for 1776, where she worked on the media team to create compelling, idea-driven content and reporting. A Seattle native, she graduated from Seattle Pacific…