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1776 Announces Challenge Festival 2015

Global incubator and seed fund to bring together business leaders, government officials, innovators, investors, and promising entrepreneurs for week of events focused on innovation in highly regulated industries

Washington, D.C.1776 will host Challenge Festival 2015, a weeklong convening of business leaders, government officials, innovators, investors, and promising entrepreneurs from around the world, in Washington, D.C., from May 11–May 16.

Focused on innovation in areas generally within the domain of government, 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.

“All over the globe, entrepreneurs are asking themselves why, with the power of today’s technology, do we still live with services built for the last century?” said 1776 cofounder Donna Harris. “The Challenge Festival will feature the world’s most promising startups who are changing the way we educate our children, consume energy, and access healthcare—and connect them with forward-looking business and industry leaders.”

By bringing together startups working to shape the future of health, education, energy, and smart cities, the Challenge Festival will provide an early glimpse of tomorrow’s innovations—and give key influencer audiences the chance to absorb those ideas and identify the roles they can play in helping bring about a global startup revolution of meaningful innovation.

In addition to bringing together business leaders, government officials, and investors for panels, roundtables, vision talks, and more, the Festival will also serve as the culmination of Challenge Cup 2015, 1776’s international competition to find the world’s most promising startups working to disrupt four industry categories: Health, Education, Energy & Sustainability and Transportation & Cities.

Over the last six months, the Challenge Cup spanned 16 cities in 11 countries to produce more than 70 competitors, who will compete for $650,000 in prizes at the Challenge Festival.

“From Austin to Amman and Boston to Berlin, we’ve traveled the globe over the past six months to find the world’s most audacious entrepreneurs working to develop groundbreaking solutions to big, intractable problems that affect us everyday,” said 1776 cofounder Evan Burfield. “The Challenge Festival is where it all comes together—with the top startups in the world coming to D.C. to spend a week connecting to the intellectual, social, and financial capital that will enable them to grow, scale and ultimately, excel.”

By allowing these entrepreneurs to meet new mentors, connect with potential business partners, and engage local, state, and national government leaders for discussions on navigating regulation, cutting red tape and helping government to expand innovation—the Challenge Festival will enable them to truly leverage the connections of Washington D.C. to drive growth with new partners, customers, and distribution relationships.

For the first time at Challenge Festival 2015, diversified health and well-being leader Philips will be the presenting sponsor.

“We are excited to partner with 1776 as this year’s Challenge Festival presenting sponsor,” said Philips North America CEO Brent Shafer. “As a global incubator engineering the success of the world’s most promising startups, 1776 is an ideal partner for Philips in our quest to tackle the world’s greatest challenges through meaningful innovation. To do so, we not only adopt the startup mindset, we foster and feed a startup culture. This partnership demonstrates the commitment of both 1776 and Philips to passionately invent and partner for better societal outcomes.”

Each day of Challenge Festival 2015 will convene expert panels to discuss the biggest challenges and potentially groundbreaking solutions within their specific industries:

  • Monday, May 11: Education
  • Tuesday, May 12: Energy & Sustainability
  • Wednesday, May 13: Health
  • Thursday, May 14: Transportation & Cities
  • Friday, May 15: Innovation Economies
  • Saturday, May 16: Challenge Cup Global Finals

A full roster of speakers and events will be announced in the coming weeks, and the current schedule can be found here.

In addition to events hosted by 1776, Challenge Festival will provide a platform for organizations to co-host events focused on innovation that matters. Organizations interested in partnership and sponsorship opportunities can contact 1776 at

Last year’s Challenge Festival was enormously successful, with the winners going on to enjoy remarkable success disrupting and innovating the world’s most challenged industries, including:

  • HandUp (overall winner, cities) leverages the power of the Internet to match specific online donors—wherever they may be—to homeless individuals in need and ensures that users’ direct donations go to their intended purpose, such as rent assistance and medical care—especially important as government and social services are increasingly subject to budget cuts.
  • PlugSurfing (energy) is a Berlin-based mobile app that allows drivers of electric vehicles to quickly locate charging stations and process payments on their mobile devices—with the dual benefit of making energy-efficient vehicles more practical for German drivers while reducing fossil fuel consumption.
  • eduCanon (education) is an online learning environment that creates and shares interactive video lessons to help teachers, especially those who are new to the profession, increase student engagement and improve their ability to plan the next day’s lesson. By helping teachers succeed early on, eduCanon is enabling a better experience for students and teachers.
  • CancerIQ (health) is a Chicago-based startup that created a suite of applications that allow oncologists to better collect genetic information from cancer patients and identify high-risk patients for preventative treatment—greatly simplifying the practice of genomic medicine.

ABOUT 1776

1776 is a global incubator and seed fund that finds promising startups focused on solving the world’s most fundamental challenges and helps engineer their success.

Just two years old, 1776 has helped more than 250 startups grow by vetting their viability and connecting them to a “swat team” of support, from investors to mentors, government officials, and institutional market partners that they need to succeed.

1776 focuses on startups in the most broken, entrenched industries and sectors that impact millions of lives every day—specifically education, energy & sustainability, health, transportation, and cities.

Because solving big challenges in entrenched industries requires a different approach, 1776 is revolutionizing the startup landscape. From its hub in Washington, D.C., it is sparking a global movement of “problem-solving” startups through its Challenge Cup and Startup Federation, the premiere network of incubators throughout the world.

By creating a global community of startups, mentors, partners, and investors, 1776 is proving that its unique approach to incubation can create a sustained cycle of innovation that connects existing enterprises, corporations, and government entities to the startups that are solving the world’s biggest problems.

1776 was founded in February 2013 by Donna Harris, a serial entrepreneur and the former Managing Director of the Startup America Partnership, and Evan Burfield, founder of netDecide, a provider of enterprise wealth management solutions, and the consulting firm Synteractive.

ABOUT Philips

Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) is a diversified health and well-being company, focused on improving people’s lives through meaningful innovation in the areas of Healthcare, Consumer Lifestyle and Lighting. Headquartered in the Netherlands, Philips posted 2014 sales of EUR 21.4 billion and employs approximately 105,000 employees with sales and services in more than 100 countries. The company is a leader in cardiac care, acute care and home healthcare, energy efficient lighting solutions and new lighting applications, as well as male shaving and grooming and oral healthcare. News from Philips is located at