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PR- 113-11
April 8, 2011


Winning Graduate Team from the Czech Technical University in Prague Created Unique Verification Service Capable of Indicating Whether or Not a Digital Image Has Been Modified

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced the winning entrepreneur teams of NYC Next Idea, the second annual global business plan competition that encourages innovative business ventures to launch and operate in New York City. Two winning teams were selected from a competitive and diverse applicant pool with more than 150 business plans submitted from 30 countries. Mayor Bloomberg met with the six finalist teams from leading business and engineering schools in India, Singapore, France, the Czech Republic and Canada, at City Hall today, where he was joined by New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Chief Policy Advisor John Feinblatt, and Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora.

“When it comes to big ideas, there is no better launching pad than New York City,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Talented entrepreneurs from across the globe entered this competition with the goal of getting help to establish their ventures in the City. We want them and other budding business leaders from around the world to start their ventures here, and one of the most important things we need to make that a reality is immigration reform. Without sensible changes to immigration laws, we risk missing out on the next big thing. That would be a big loss for our City’s economy or our country’s future.”

Now in its second year, the NYC Next Idea competition raises the visibility of New York City as an international center for innovation and entrepreneurship while showcasing talent from business and engineering schools around the world. The graduate track winner, VerifEyed, from Czech Technical University in Prague, provides a software product that can verify whether or not a digital image has been modified, reliably and in a fraction of a second. The product has uses for insurance companies, banks, online auction sites, and even online dating sites to detect fraud through digital photographs. The Undergraduate track winner, ReFleX, from University of British Columbia in Vancouver, developed a flexible and affordable multi-patient wireless heart monitoring system that can be implemented in clinics or hospitals of any size. Created by a team of four engineers, the remote wireless system monitors patients’ heartbeat and temperature and can provide real-time updates to healthcare professionals, increasing the efficiency of medical operations while enhancing the quality of patient care.  

The winning graduate team will receive $20,000 in cash prizes, and the winning undergraduate team will receive $15,000, in addition to six months of free office space in New York City in which to launch their businesses.

“New York City already attracts some of the world’s most innovative entrepreneurs, and that’s an asset we want to build on,” said Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert K. Steel. “Today’s students are tomorrow’s business leaders and employers, and we want New York City to be top of mind when they decide where to launch their ventures. NYC Next Idea is one of the ways we’re making sure it is.”

“Through the NYC Next Idea competition, we are reaching global talent and encouraging them to innovate in New York City – one of the most dynamic, creative cities in the world,” said New York City Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky. “The competition has grown ten-fold since its inaugural year, and we look forward to seeing the ‘next ideas’ develop into successful business ventures here in New York City.”

“Google, eBay, Intel and Yahoo! all had founders who were born overseas,” said John Feinblatt, the Mayor’s Chief Policy Advisor.  “The NYC Next Idea competition brings to New York the most talented entrepreneurs from all over the world, and we must continue to attract the best, brightest, and hardest working to make sure the next great company is founded here. Mayor Bloomberg knows we need sensible immigration reforms to ensure this, and he’s not alone – mayors and business leaders from across the country have joined the Partnership for a New American Economy to make sure we continue economic growth, and attract new companies and new jobs.”

The competition, sponsored by the New York City Economic Development Corporation in partnership with Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, is open to new, independent ventures in the conceptual, seed, start-up, or early growth stages, as well as business concepts that include the expansion of an existing venture into New York City. The teams were judged in the final round by a panel of New York City-based venture capitalists, who made their decisions based on which business idea they would most likely fund. Judges included; Archana Patchirajan, Founder, MyCityWay; Alessandro Piol, General Partner, Vedanta Capital; Michael Satow, Co-Founder, JDS Pharmaceuticals; Steven Strauss, New York City Economic Development Corporation; and Albert Wenger, Partner, Union Square Ventures.

“We are delighted to partner with the City in hosting this exciting global competition,” said Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science Dean Feniosky Peña-Mora.  “As a leader in engineering and applied science, Columbia Engineering supports the Mayor’s many efforts to create opportunities for entrepreneurship, innovation, and economic development in the City.”

“NYC Next Idea provides a great opportunity for global entrepreneurial talent to show off their startups in our city,” said Albert Wenger, Partner at Union Square Ventures and a judge of this year’s competition. “The event helps spread the message that New York City has become a major center for innovative new companies.”

During their week in New York City, the finalists toured General Assembly, a startup incubator space that opened earlier this year; Etsy and NextJump headquarters; Bloomberg LP; and also attended New York Tech Meetup, a monthly gathering of New York City’s tech and entrepreneurial community.

The six finalist plans were:

Graduate Track

  • FoodShrink from Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, India
    • Building a mobile app to help people make smarter dietary choices. Team members: Amber Maheshwari, Anuj Dayal, and Ashish Kaushik
  • Indian Mephisto from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras, India
    • Proposing a portable navigation and mobility guidance system for visually impaired pedestrians in New York City. Team members: Mitesh Khadgi and Suraj Kumar Santosh
  • VerifEyed from Czech Technical University, Czech Republic
    • Developing a unique verification service capable of indicating whether or not a digital image has been modified. Team members: Radim Nedbal and Babak Mahdian 

Undergraduate Track

  • 151 Projects from Singapore Management University, Singapore
    • Providing online retailers with Internet platform that helps them better spend advertising dollars by engaging and rewarding customers as micro-marketers on social media. Team members: Cheng Wei Ng and Ashley Shen
  • ReFleX from University of British Columbia, Canada
    • Developing a flexible and affordable multi-patient wireless monitoring solution. Team members: Andy Tsai, Jinting Zhu, Carol Lee, and Peter Guan
  • Sirocco from EDHEC Business School, France
    • Building high-end full-body dryers for NYC sports clubs, spas, and hotels. Team members: Augustin Jaclin, Jeremy Schiano, and Arthur Sylvestre

Last year, GreeNext Technology Solutions from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras was selected as the winner of the inaugural NYC Next Idea competition. The team devised a new system to allow utility companies and energy producers to store and distribute energy across the five boroughs safely and efficiently. The company is currently in product development and plans to pilot their product later this year. One finalist from last year’s competition, a bike share enterprise called NYCycling, established their venture in New York City.

The NYC Next Idea competition is part of the Bloomberg Administration’s efforts to encourage entrepreneurship within a variety of economic sectors. With a network of nine incubators around the City, the Administration is providing low-cost office space, as well as training and networking opportunities, to hundreds of start-ups and small businesses. In addition, in 2010, the City launched the New York City Entrepreneurial Fund, the first City-sponsored seed and early-stage investment fund located outside of Silicon Valley. The fund will make up to $22 million available to New York City-based technology startups. In partnership with FirstMark Capital, New York City Economic Development Corporation announced that MyCityWay, a mobile application and platform provider and a winner at the City’s inaugural NYC BigApps Competition, would receive the Fund’s first investment. Last week, the Mayor announced the winners of the second annual NYC BigApps competition and a strategic partnership with BMW, which is launching a $100 million venture capital fund in New York City as well as a small business incubator. And as part of larger efforts to grow the technology sector in the City, the Administration recently received 18 responses to a Request for Expressions of Interest that it issued to institutions seeking to build or expand an applied sciences research facility within the five boroughs.


Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent   (212) 788-2958

Julie Wood (NYCEDC)   (212) 312-3523


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