Detroit has made a name for itself when it comes to innovation. From the automobile to the mechanical heart pump, Detroit has been at the forefront of new technology. NextChallenge: Smart Cities will help ensure that it stays there.

Hosted by NextEnergy, DENSO, DTE Energy, and Wells Fargo, the global Smart Cities challenge aims to encourage friendly competition in an effort to create hardware and software technology solutions for the growing problems facing urban areas.

“Urban populations are on the rise, which is leading to challenges related to safety, mobility, emissions, accessibility, and congestion,” said Jean Redfield, president and CEO, NextEnergy. “This challenge is designed to identify new innovations to address those issues, with added benefits of identifying technology opportunities that can create new business models and drive economic development.”

Viable solutions must fall within one or more of the following categories: smart parking, smart transportation, smart infrastructure, and smart buildings. Innovations should be connected, interactive, and data driven (a.k.a. “smart technology” to the Average Joe). They should also have a low environmental impact and help make cities safer and more efficient places for people to live and work.

Innovators interested in participating in the challenge should submit an online concept proposal by 11:59 p.m. EST on July 28, 2016. Submissions will be reviewed by a panel of judges including representatives from the hosting organizations.

Proposals will be evaluated based on innovation, qualification, competitive advantage, and scalability. The most compelling solutions will be supported by measurable metrics, address data analytics and information sharing, and open application programing interface (API) capabilities.

Semi-finalists will be chosen and required to submit a full proposal by Oct. 4, 2016. Finalists will be expected to present their proposals on Dec. 8, 2016. Awards will be announced in January 2017.

To learn more about the challenge, either visit, or register for a webinar on June 9 at 2 p.m. EST.

The winner of the NextChallenge: Smart Cities will receive up to $80,000 in grant funding from Wells Fargo to demonstrate and validate their solution at the NextEnergy Center in Detroit. An additional combined total of $20,000 will be awarded to as many as four finalists.

Monetary awards and program 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 transportation technologies to address urban needs.

“Wells Fargo is proud to support efforts to create solutions for the future of smart cities. Our Clean Technology and Innovation Grant program funds projects that foster innovation, entrepreneurship and an ecosystem that helps early stage technologies bridge to the commercial marketplace,” said Ashley Grosh, Vice President, Wells Fargo Environmental Affairs.

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