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Help Choose Finalists: Entrepreneurs Compete to Fund Tech Projects

  • VOA News

The deadline to vote in a global science and technology contest for entrepreneurs is drawing near. The top 30 vote getters will receive training and other guidance before competing again for a chance to receive up to $15,000 in funding.

The Tech-I competition is part of the U.S. State Department’s Global Innovation through Science and Technology initiative.

Kathryn Pharr, the State Department’s science, technology, and innovation program manager, said the goal of the contest is to give people the tools they need to make their ideas reality.

“We’re interested in helping them achieve their goals of expanding their community and making economic growth happen for their region,” she said in an interview with VOA’s Persian service.

Two finalists in the 2013 GIST Tech-I Competition.

Two finalists in the 2013 GIST Tech-I Competition.

This year the contest is open to contestants from 83 countries, twice the number of countries eligible to compete when the contest started in 2011, Pharr said.

Participants submit a short summary of their idea, along with a brief video explaining and pitching the product or idea. A panel of judges selects semifinalists from all the entries. This year, 67 semifinalists from 35 countries are now awaiting the results of a public vote to determine which projects will move on. Projects proposed this year range from a mobile app that will allow small- to medium-size businesses to process sales to using 3D printing technology to create human organs.

The semifinalists videos are available to watch online, and anyone can vote for the projects they think should move on to the next round.

“We put all those videos online and have anyone in the world eligible to come in and see these ideas, get excited by them, and vote for the one they think is best,” Pharr said.

Voting ends Oct. 1, after which 30 projects will be selected based on voting and merit.

“Those 30 finalists will go to the Global Entrepreneurship Summit – this year it’s in Morocco – the week of Nov. 20th,” Pharr said. At the summit, the finalists will receive training and work with global leaders in their field before presenting their final pitches to judges who will select the projects that receive funding awards.

Pharr said competing in Tech-I is valuable for all entrants, even those that don’t advance in the competition. For example, the pitch video required to enter the contest gives entrants a tool they can use to develop their project outside the contest.

“What we hear from them is ‘Making a video was the best thing I’ve ever done. I now have a product to show people when I tell them about my idea,’” she said. “So I think anyone who applies has won in that way.

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