Today, the ten finalists for the UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge were announced. In its second year, UpPrize is the most significantly capitalized social innovation competition focused on improving the quality of life for residents in Southwestern PA. The challenge is organized by The Forbes Funds in collaboration with BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Bridgeway Capital, Comcast Business and UPMC. After this cycle, approximately $1 million will have been invested in sustainable solutions proposed by local entrepreneurs and nonprofits.
UpPrize engages the community in producing innovative solutions to meet the critical needs of our region’s nonprofits and people. In December, challenge partners selected 20 semi-finalists from a field of 175 applicants with input from their advisors; they have now narrowed the field to 10 finalists. The finalists, below, will each receive a $10,000 grant.
Products and services that will improve nonprofit service delivery and/or the lives of vulnerable populations in Southwestern PA.
|BlastPoint uses technology to unlock big data insights for everyone, a luxury typically reserved for organizations with resources.
Community Data Roundtable’s Parent Portal allows caregivers to access their child’s medical information directly, and in a way that is clear and oriented to parental needs.
Expii, Inc. solves the universal learning problem through a novel self-organizing platform that delivers on-demand and personalized education for free.
HiberSense uses a self-learning thermostat system to save up to 40% of HVAC costs and increases comfort for individuals.
Rubitection developed a medical device that supports healthcare providers in preventing and managing pressure ulcers (bedsore care).
|Healthy Food Access
Products and services that will increase access to healthy and nutritional choices for vulnerable and underserved populations.
|412 Food Rescue’s The Good Food Project transforms fresh, healthy rescued food into extremely affordable prepared meals.
Black Urban Gardeners and Farmers of Pittsburgh Co-op. (BUGFPC) is an urban farming collective that aims to address food insecurity in Homewood & Uptown.
Economic Development South’s Clairton Corner store Project strives to address food insecurity in Clairton by opening a brick and mortar store serving fresh food.
Knead Community Café seeks to open the first pay-what-you-can café in Pittsburgh. The café will serve healthy food in New Kensington.
Bible Center Church’s Oasis Project aims to train Homewood youth in urban farming through the launch of the Oasis Farm and Fishery.
“The Pittsburgh region has everything needed to lead the world in purpose-driven community innovation. We have a significant competitive advantage in this space because of our can-do culture, accelerators, universities, philanthropies, start-ups, student innovators, corporate citizens such as BNY Mellon, Bridgeway and Comcast, and a robust nonprofit sector that employs 10 percent of the workforce,” said Kate Dewey, President of The Forbes Funds. “Leveraging our region’s collective strength offers exciting new ways to solve entrenched challenges facing nonprofits and to improve the region at a neighborhood level. UpPrize can help make this happen in a way that everyone wins.”
“This year’s UpPrize challenge is designed to generate innovative technological solutions to some of our region’s most pressing issues,” said Kenya Boswell, president, BNY Mellon Foundation of Southwestern Pennsylvania, a founding partner of UpPrize. “We believe that technology has tremendous potential to positively impact individuals, organizations and industries within our community. As a founding partner, we ultimately see the connection between innovation, ideas that ignite change, and BNY Mellon’s mission – to improve lives through investing.”
“Bridgeway is excited about UpPrize’s potential to uncover new solutions to long-standing problems,” said Matt Madia, Chief Strategy and Development Officer, Bridgeway Capital and UpPrize 2016-17 partner. “Many communities in our region lack access to healthy food options which leads to higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and other health problems. We need fresh ideas for bringing produce, meat and dairy to food desert communities.”
“Every entrepreneurial journey starts somewhere. In the case of many aspiring Pittsburgh-area entrepreneurs, that somewhere starts with the UpPrize Social Innovation Challenge. By working together, we’ve put a stake in the ground that will advance the region’s start-up ecosystem,” said Paul Merritt, regional vice president, Comcast Business. “We believe it’s good for the local community, good for the city and good for our business.”
For more information about the semi-finalists, visit UpPrize.org. The 2016 UpPrize winners of large awards will be announced at the showcase event on March 30, 2017.
In 2015, support was directed to innovations that improved online experiences for the visually impaired, reduced health care costs for at-risk individuals, a technology-enabled solution for breaking human trafficking rings, a volunteer screening program for individuals working with children and an inventory system for re-used materials.