Think you've got a genius idea to make the world a better place? Then this startup contest is for you.
As part of its 7 Days of Genius Festival, a weeklong series of panel discussions and talks kicking off March 1, New York City's 92nd Street Y is launching its first Genius Startup Competition, a contest that's intended to unearth big ideas that can have a major impact in fields such as education, energy, sustainability, and other industries that are poised to address the world's most pressing problems.
"We want our work to have a positive impact," Asha Curran, director of the Center for Innovation and Social Impact at 92Y, says, explaining the origins of the contest. "In creating content, we're always thinking about not only downloading content to people but uploading it from them, as well. This is one way we think we can incorporate audience interaction."
Curran is hesistant to pinpoint exactly what kinds of ideas 92Y is looking for, but she says concepts such as 3-D printing and driverless-vehicle technology fall into the realm. The ideas, which can be submitted from now until midnight on February 25, will be judged by a panel of experts that includes Curran as well as representatives from Cornell Tech and the New York City venture capital firm RRE Ventures. The winner gets six months of prepaid co-working space in the city of his or her choice and consultations with RRE and business experts at Cornell Tech.
"Getting a meeting with RRE is a prize worth more than money in the eyes of many CEOs," Curran says. "I would hope it would be better than a cash prize." She says that because these ideas will probably be in the early stages, RRE will play a role in helping entrepreneurs craft their eventual pitches to VCs.
This isn't the first time 92Y has put out a call to entrepreneurs. In 2011, it hosted the Startups for Good Challenge as part of its annual Social Good Summit. The winner that year was a startup called SunSaluter, which makes solar panels that automatically rotate to face the sun.
"It was an innovation that sounds disarmingly simple but makes a huge difference in the developing world," Curran says.
Only U.S. startups (that is, businesses that haven't started generating revenue yet) are eligible, and your idea must be considered a true breakthrough that has a social impact and can be implemented quickly and affordably. Winners will be announced March 3. Register to enter the Genius Startup Competition here.