Cities are becoming the home to more and more people around the world. It’s estimated that by 2050, 66 percent of the world’s population is going to live in urban areas. In order to handle all of those people, solutions will have to be found in a variety of areas like congestion, emissions, mobility, and safety.

Four organizations have teamed up to help fund ideas for the future. DTE Energy, DENSO, NextEnergy, and Wells Fargo are host a global competition to help address some of these problems.

Through the program, technology providers are tasked with proposing hardware and software solutions within one or more of the following categories: smart parking, smart mobility, smart infrastructure, and smart buildings.

According to the organizers, innovations should be connected, interactive and data driven (i.e., “smart”), and contribute to safer, more sustainable communities.

Concept proposals for the second annual NextChallenge: Smart Cities are due on Aug. 18, 2017. If you’re considering applying, register for the webinar on July 27 to learn more about the challenge.

The winner of NextChallenge: Smart Cities will be awarded up to $80,000 in grant funding from Wells Fargo to demonstrate and validate their solution at the NextEnergy Center in Detroit, or an applicable site that meets the needs of the selected solution.

An additional combined total of $20,000 will be awarded to as many as four finalists. Monetary awards and programmatic support are funded by a $650,000, three-year grant from Wells Fargo to support NextEnergy’s efforts to drive investment in advanced energy and mobility technologies that address needs in urban communities.

Last year, Callida Energy beat out more than 50 other innovators for the top prize in the inaugural challenge. Callida is now working together with NextEnergy and DTE Energy to select a site to demonstrate the Callida Occupant App solution, which optimizes energy use in commercial buildings.

“The prize is allowing us to install our software in a commercial building site, do a baseline, make changes to how the building is operated, and develop a case study for how our solution delivered specific savings for the building,” said Raphael Carty, CEO of Callida Energy in a statement. “Before this challenge, we had a presence in New York and Houston. We saw opportunity in Detroit, but we weren’t known in the market. This competition put us on the map in the region.”

Here’s what you need to know about the timeline. Innovators interested in entering this year’s challenge should submit an online concept proposal by 11:59 pm EDT Aug. 18, 2017. Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges including representatives from NextEnergy, Wells Fargo, DENSO and DTE Energy based on the following objectives: unique and technologically-sound innovation, applicant qualifications, competitive advantage, and scalability.

The most compelling solutions will be supported by measurable metrics, address data analytics and information sharing, and open application programming interface (API) capabilities.

Semi-finalists will be selected and required to submit a full proposal by Sept. 29, 2017. Finalists will be expected to pitch their ideas and present a video in-person to judges and guests at NextEnergy Center in Detroit Dec. 6, 2017. Winner(s) will execute pilots of their solution in 2018.

For more information about the challenge or to apply, visit

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