National Hardware Cup competition at TechShop. Image courtesy of AlphaLab Gear.

Tech startups will once again compete for a $50,000 grand prize when AlphaLab Gear‘s National Hardware Cup returns for its third year. And this time, applicants from all over the world are welcome.

The Pittsburgh-based accelerator teamed up with Dassault Systèmes’ Solidworks brand and Bosch to present the latest National Hardware Cup, which is open to early-stage startups that create at least one physical product. Chosen candidates from all over the country will vie for $50,000 in investment funds and more than $50,000 in software, cash and other prizes.

AlphaLab Gear managing director Ilana Diamond says the National Hardware Cup came about because they wanted to “create a platform for investors to see the exciting hardware companies coming out of AlphaLab Gear and other top programs around the country.”

Previous grand prize winners include the virtual reality camera company Lucid and the Austin-based home intelligence company Curb.

Lucid shows off their National Hardware Cup win. Image courtesy of AlphaLab Gear.
Lucid shows off their National Hardware Cup win. Image courtesy of AlphaLab Gear.

For the first time ever, the competition will expand its reach by bringing in teams from South Korea, Japan, and potentially two more countries for the new International Hardware Cup.

AlphaLab Gear program manager Christopher Millard believes the international leg of the competition could open up opportunities for the region.

“Many cities and countries around the world look to Pittsburgh as a role model for innovation and advanced manufacturing,” says Millard. “There are a number of hardware startups around the globe that are looking to set up headquarters in the US in order to better serve the US market. We’d love for those headquarters to be in Pittsburgh.”

Qualifying companies can apply for the National Hardware Cup online. Six startups will be selected to pitch their companies to investors and hardware entrepreneurs in each of seven regional semifinals held in Pittsburgh, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Austin, Ft. Lauderdale, and Washington, DC. Teams are judged based on how well they demonstrate commitment, capability and a product’s commercial viability.

Winners from each regional semifinal will compete in Pittsburgh for the main competition, scheduled for April 19-20, 2017.

Winning teams from each city also receive $3,000 cash, a one-year license to Solidworks, and other prizes.

The third annual National Hardware Cup kicks off on February 5, 2017 with the West Coast regional competition at the SolidWorks World tech expo in Los Angeles. The Mid-Atlantic regional competition will take place in Pittsburgh on February 21, 2017 at the Bakery Square-based maker space TechShop.

Applications for the National Hardware Cup are due by January 22, 2017.

Amanda Waltz is a freelance journalist and film critic whose work has appeared locally in numerous publications. She writes for The Film Stage and is the founder and editor of Steel Cinema, a blog dedicated to covering Pittsburgh film culture. She currently lives in Pittsburgh with her husband and oversized house cat.