• IC:Tech

Innovation Challenge Overview

Queen City Forward is dedicated to building a thriving entrepreneur ecosystem capable of meeting the complex challenges of the 21st century. The Innovation Challenge brings together entrepreneurs, corporate leaders, civic and municipal departments, and Charlotte residents in a collaborative, human-centered process to create innovative solutions for critical needs in our community.

We start by listening to the stakeholders, experts, and community to determine what the true pain-points are, and where the gaps and opportunities exist for innovative entrepreneurial solutions. We then catalyze new ideas by co-creating solutions with the community in our Think Unconference, then support the best ideas with seed funding in our Business Challenge.

Each year we choose a new challenge, and spend 12 months activating a network of passionate visionaries to move Charlotte closer to being the vibrant and inclusive city that is a great place for all of its residents to live, work, and play.

2014- IC: Food Solutions for Urban Food

2015- IC: Plenty Solutions for Hunger

2016- IC: Tech Solutions for Smart Cities

If you would be interested in seeing how we might tackle a challenge you see in our community, please contact us for information on how you might sponsor our next Innovation Challenge.

Innovation Challenge: Tech, Solutions for Smart Cities

Innovation Challenge: Tech, Solutions for Smart Cities is a 3 phase initiative to identify opportunities to leverage technology to improve the health, safety, functionality, and enjoyment of our city. We are excited about the potential for big data, gigabit infrastructure, mobile optimization, IoT, RFID technology, and ICT to advance our cities ability to provide real-time data, responsive government, improved mobility, better resource management, improved infrastructure, and healthier, happier neighborhoods.

The program runs from March through November 2016, with a series of community dialogues and stakeholder discovery sessions (Think Groups) in the spring, and an innovation conference and business competition in the fall. The Innovation Challenge is designed to delve deep into one specific problem, creating a deep understanding of the current environment, and provide access to data, knowledge and experts for innovators and entrepreneurs to design better solutions that can be market tested and implemented faster and with greater impact.

Phase One: Discovery and Community Engagement, March-June, 2016

The research and discovery phase of the program will take place through targeted work group of experts, stakeholders, and citizens that can identify which challenges or opportunities are ready for immediate action, and how the entrepreneur community can best capitalize on those opportunities. Click here for an overview of all 5 Think Groups.

Phase Two: ThinkTech Weekend, September 2016

ThinkTech is a three-day hackathon where ideas are turned into prototypes. Bring your concept for a product, service, or system, build a team, and create a prototype that can be taken to market. We teach human centered design as a way to rapidly design and iterate innovation that works for people, and connect our teams with a network of resources and people to help them act on their ideas. Check back for event details.

Phase Three: Innovation Challenge: Business Competition, September – November 2015

The Innovation Challenge is a regional business competition for entrepreneurs with innovative ideas to meet serious issues in our community, and this year our focus is on tech. Both for-profits and non-profits are encouraged to apply with new ideas or established programs. We welcome all ideas for smart cities, but are especially interested in our five core areas: digital inclusion, health and wellness, gigabit infrastructure, big data, and safety and security. Other areas of interests include transportation, energy efficiency, and waste management. Finalists will have the opportunity to present  at a community event on November 9, 2016. Check back soon for more info on the competition.


Innovation Challenge: Tech 2016 Sponsors

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QCF Sponsors

Queen City Forward thanks all of its sponsors for helping make Charlotte a center for Social Entrepreneurship, empowering local entrepreneurs to create world-changing solutions.