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Mayor de Blasio and NYCEDC President Torres-Springer Announce Winners of NYC BigApps 2015

December 3, 2015

Nation's largest civic innovation competition leverages strength of New York City tech ecosystem to address challenges identified in Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC Plan: Affordable Housing, Zero Waste, Connected Cities and Civic Engagement

$125,000 in prizes awarded to make city a better place for all New Yorkers

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) President Maria Torres-Springer today announced the winners of NYC BigApps 2015, the nation's largest civic innovation competition. BigApps invites New Yorkers to create tech products that use public and private data to address pressing challenges facing the City. NYC BigApps 2015 asks entrants to make the City a better place for all New Yorkers by addressing four issues identified in Mayor de Blasio’s One New York: The Plan for a Strong and Just City – Affordable Housing, Zero Waste, Connected Cities and Civic Engagement. OneNYC is the City’s comprehensive plan for a strong, equitable, sustainable and resilient city, building on prior long-term plans and setting measurable goals for tackling core challenges in the coming years.

“This year, hundreds of passionate innovators from New York City and beyond came together to leverage their technical skills and expertise to address some of the most pressing civic challenges facing our city that we identified in OneNYC,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “New York City’s fast-growing tech ecosystem supports 300,000 quality jobs, and our administration is committed to providing tools and resources to bolster that growth and expand our talent pool. With initiatives like BigApps, we are encouraging and supporting a new generation of civic tech leaders – and I warmly congratulate our winners for conceiving of innovative ways to make this city a better place to live.”

“For the last several years, NYC BigApps has turned to New York City’s tech ecosystem to make the City a better place for New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President Maria Torres-Springer.  “This year we challenged innovators and technology entrepreneurs to solve some of our City’s greatest challenges, laid out by Mayor de Blasio’s OneNYC plan.  By addressing affordability, waste, connectedness and civic engagement, these winners have truly helped to make New York City a better, more livable place.  Congratulations to each team, and I am excited to seeing these projects continue to better our City.” 

This year’s winners were chosen by a Selection Committee composed of tech and civic leaders from 21 finalist teams announced last month. In the last several weeks, finalists worked with mentors from over two dozen City agencies and tech firms to refine their products before the final judging today. Teams – composed of programmers, engineers, designers, marketers, entrepreneurs and civic professionals – were encouraged to submit mobile and web apps, connected devices, games and other technology products.

In total, BigApps 2015 awarded $125,000 in cash prizes, including a $25,000 Grand Prize for the product that best addressed each of the four OneNYC challenges. The Selection Committee awarded an additional $20,000 in Judge’s Choice prizes to two teams; the remaining $5,000 was awarded at a November Demo Day to the winner of a public pitch competition dubbed the BigApps Battlefield.

The winners of the 2015 competition are:

Affordable Housing Grand Prize ($25,000): is a tool for renters to organize and take action in getting repairs made in their apartments.

Zero Waste Grand Prize ($25,000): Treasures is a mobile app that allows users to share objects with others in their community, reusing and recycling items rather than throwing them out.

Connected Cities Grand Prize ($25,000): CityCharge is a solar-powered charging station for public spaces that uses Bluetooth and beacon technology to gather environmental data, and acts as a WiFi hotspot.

Civic Engagement Grand Prize ($25,000): Benefit Kitchen is a benefit screening tool that allows low-income families to learn about the public benefits for which they are eligible.

Judge’s Choice ($10,000): Addicaid is a digital support network that helps individuals struggling with substance disorders enter and stay in recovery.

Judge’s Choice ($10,000): IssueVoter is a nonpartisan, end-to-end constituent engagement tool for Americans to weigh in on important policy questions and monitor their representatives’ records.

“Congratulations to all of the winners of the NYC BigApps 2015 competition,” said Council Member James Vacca, Chair of the Committee on Technology. “I’ve been involved with BigApps for a number of years and am always amazed at how the submissions keep getting more creative. Encouraging technological solutions to problems facing the city is a great endeavor and I look forward to seeing the fruits of this effort.”

“At AOL we are constantly searching for creative and original ways to improve the lives of our users and consumers,” said William Pence, Chief Technology Officer at AOL. “We are proud to have partnered with BigApps to support the teams who have worked hard to solve real problems facing New York City.”

This year’s winners were selected based on their potential impact, technical design, and readiness to be implemented as either a private product or a pilot program of the City or another civic partner. This year’s Selection Committee was composed of an esteemed mix of leaders in the technology and civic sectors: John Paul Farmer, Director of Civic Technology & Innovation, Microsoft; Ben Fried, Chief Information Officer, Google; Daniel Huttenlocher, Dean and Vice Provost, Cornell Tech; Jennifer Jones Austin, Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies; Jessica Lawrence, Executive Director, NY Tech Meetup; William Pence, Executive Vice President and Global Chief Technology Officer, AOL; Euan Robertson, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, NYCEDC; Andrew Salkin, Chief Operating Officer, 100 Resilient Cities; and Minerva Tantoco, Chief Technology Officer, The City of New York.

The 2015 competition has attracted the largest and most diverse network of sponsors yet, led by banner sponsors Microsoft, AOL, Facebook, Pentagram, Capital One, BMW iVentures, Cisco, Intersection, and iHeartRadio. In addition, each Challenge category has been supported by a group of City agencies, civic organizations, and private firms that have helped teams ideate, design and build products through mentor office hours and events. A complete list of partners can be found here. This year's contest was designed and is being managed by HR&A Advisors, Inc., in collaboration with SUPER VISION, Supercharger Studio, Savvy Strategy, and Civic Hall.

Launched in 2009, NYC BigApps has helped create over 500 apps and other tech products, and has engaged more than 500,000 New Yorkers. Last year’s competition awarded seven grand prizes; winners included Heat Seek NYC, an Internet of Things technology that allows New York City tenants to track and report heating violations in their apartments, and Mind My Business, a web and mobile app that keeps small businesses updated about local happenings in their communities. Both products remain in development, and teams continue to work with New York City officials to integrate the technology with public data and services.


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.

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