Verizon Rewards Innovation: The Envelope, Please
LAS VEGAS -- Verizon's presence was low key at this year's Consumer Electronics Show (CES), but the telecom giant did highlight the importance of applications innovation when it held a press briefing to announce the winners of its Powerful Answers contest.
While Verizon Communications Inc. believes its network can support vast innovation, the company also knows the industry needs entrepreneurs to build applications and solutions on top of that infrastructure in order to solve some of the world's most difficult problems.
The Powerful Answers competition was designed to encourage innovators in sustainability, education, and healthcare to submit their products and services for a chance to win cash prizes from Verizon. The winners announced at CES, each of which won $1 million, were:
The awards ceremony was a small but lively affair hosted by Mo Rocca, a comedian and journalist of CBS and public radio fame, and Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam. After highlighting finalists in each category of the competition, Rocca and McAdam brought representatives from the winning companies on stage for a panel discussion. Asked what he thought success for his company would look like, CEO Yogev Shelly said he wanted TinyTap to be the "Wikipedia or YouTube for education content."
Yaopeng Zhou, the co-founder of Smart Vision Labs, joked that he was going to spend all his company's winnings while in Las Vegas, but then seriously added that he wants to invest more in hiring engineers for continued research and development.
CEO Dan Rosen added that he's hoping to turn Mosaic into a "sort of Kickstarter for solar," referring to the popular crowd-funding platform that allows any consumer to invest in startup projects.
McAdam explained at the end of the panel session that Verizon is offering to help the winners in any way it can to commercialize their products. During the next 30 days, the company will also gather feedback from participants in the contest so it can begin planning Powerful Answers 2.0.
Complete information on all of the finalists in the Powerful Answers contest is available right here.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading