Verizon Rewards Innovation: The Envelope, Please

Verizon shows importance of application innovation with its Powerful Answers awards.

Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video

January 9, 2014

2 Min Read
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:

  • Mosaic, a company with a platform allowing individuals to invest as little as $25 at a time in solar energy projects.

    • TinyTap, the creator of a system for making personalized, tablet-based educational games.

    • Smart Vision Labs, the inventor of a device that can automatically diagnose a person's level of vision impairment and determine the right glasses prescription.

      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

About the Author(s)

Mari Silbey

Senior Editor, Cable/Video

Mari Silbey is a senior editor covering broadband infrastructure, video delivery, smart cities and all things cable. Previously, she worked independently for nearly a decade, contributing to trade publications, authoring custom research reports and consulting for a variety of corporate and association clients. Among her storied (and sometimes dubious) achievements, Mari launched the corporate blog for Motorola's Home division way back in 2007, ran a content development program for Limelight Networks and did her best to entertain the video nerd masses as a long-time columnist for the media blog Zatz Not Funny. She is based in Washington, D.C.

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