Presenter at 2016 Challenge Cup. Photo by Dan Schwartz.

One local startup could gain international attention and win $50,000 in prize money as part of the global Challenge Cup competition.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority of Pittsburgh (URA) is currently looking for a few good startups to participate in the fourth annual Challenge Cup, a business pitch competition gathering teams from 75 cities around the world. Created by the Washington, D.C.-based tech incubator, 1776, the contest seeks to find innovative startups solving the world’s most complex challenges.

“Most of the pitch competitions we have in Pittsburgh are based either off of a neighborhood or are locally focused,” says Ellen Bateman, project assistant for the URA’s Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “This gives us an opportunity to take Pittsburgh to an international scale. It really will highlight our tech ecosystem here.”

She adds that the URA wants to see how solutions meant to address issues in Pittsburgh could also benefit cities worldwide.

“Pittsburgh has some specific focuses we’re interested in, such as inclusion, resiliency and sustainable growth,” says Bateman. “We’re looking specifically for companies that might have that focus.”

Local Challenge Cups will also take place across the United States in cities like Portland, Philadelphia and Phoenix, and around the globe in Milan, Osaka, Nairobi and many others.

2016 Challenge Cup winners. Photo by Dan Schwartz .
2016 Challenge Cup winners. Photo by Dan Schwartz.

But not just anyone can enter the Challenge Cup. Applicants must be working in critical industries such as education, energy, health, food, security and transportation. They must also have a viable product or service on the market, as well as proven revenue and under $2.5 million in funding.

The competing companies will have access to 1776’s UNION Network, a digital platform that connects startup ecosystems from around the world and offers resources like access to mentors, peer discussions and the ability to attend virtual classes.

“Startups in Pittsburgh can take classes in Dubai on venture capital or talk to specialists they might not have access to here,” says Bateman.

The local Challenge Cup competition will take place on June 28 and will feature select teams giving two-minute elevator pitches. A panel of judges will pick a winner based on six criteria: idea, market, scalability, revenue model, team and presentation. The chosen startup will then compete for the $50,000 grand prize, and spend time with investors, customers and international press at the Challenge Cup global finals in New York City this coming November.

Startups can apply for the Challenge Cup until Friday, June 2.

Amanda Waltz

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.