Intel Global Challenge: Winners, One and All

Staci PalmerThis blog was posted on behalf of Staci Palmer, Intel’s Director of Global Strategic Initiatives and Marketing. Staci is responsible for Intel’s philanthropic education initiatives and programs such as teacher professional development for K-12 and STEM curriculum, digital literacy for those who don’t have access to formal education, entrepreneurship skills that extend from training on basic tools knowledge to how to launch a new business, and higher education.



When 100 or so of the world’s most promising young innovators and entrepreneurs get together to share their novel technologies and groundbreaking ideas for tackling issues of the day, it’s pretty amazing. Entrepreneurship is best learned by diving in and doing – finding a solution to a real-world problem and presenting that big idea to the world. Where better to do that than in the heart of Silicon Valley, the mecca of entrepreneurship, with some of the world’s most experienced entrepreneurs.

At this year’s Intel Global Challenge (IGC), there are novel coatings to reduce infections in patients using urinary catheters, high-tech clothing with built-in sensors for remotely monitoring the health and safety of workers in dangerous situations such as mining, new technologies to remove heavy metal contamination from arable lands, and, of course, lots of innovations in personal and cloud computing. There are now apps that can do everything from helping drivers navigate more efficiently through traffic or locate hard-to-find items in a shopping complex, to helping the deaf communicate or aiding parents and teachers in reading the emotional state of autistic children.

And it’s not just amazing for the spectators who get to learn about these new tech advancements; IGC is amazing for the participants, as well. Because if you’re a young visionary with a big idea and you’ve just landed the ears of Silicon Valley professionals and venture capitalists, that’s pretty exhilarating. While it’s technically still a competition, this year’s event felt more like an entrepreneurial experience than a competition. And I for one, think it worked. Of course, I also had the pleasure of many excited young entrepreneurs telling me they felt the same.

Just consider, for example, keynotes and networking events with a long list of successful Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, including rock stars Steve Blank, leader of the Lean Startup movement, and Guy Kawasaki, key in launching Apple’s Macintosh back in 1984 and author of 12 books. Consider the workshops and seminars on how to get investors to sit up and take notice. And then, you get to “speed date” with Silicon Valley VCs, delivering your pitch and exchanging business cards for future interactions, maybe even the kind that get them to show you the money to get your startup off the ground. You spend a day at Stanford to interact with students and alums who are successful entrepreneurs, visit the Plug and Play Technology Center in Sunnyvale, and hear from Intel leaders like Arvind Sodhani from Intel Capital while visiting Intel headquarters.

And they’re doing all this in the midst of a whole bunch of young people who are smart, ambitious and ready to change the world. Any one of these could be a potential business partner, client or advisor down the road.

Add to that the $100,000 in prizes awarded just last night. I’m sure I can’t give justice in trying to describe the energy in the room or the exhilaration of the winners. But imagine watching 3 excited young men from Chile shouting out in celebration, waving their country flag, hugging, crying, and being congratulated amongst their peers for winning the grand prize.

The truth is, though award winners are selected (and yes, that’s a big deal), everyone leaves IGC a winner – including the onlookers. Because, while IGC is a competition, it is also so much more.

And that’s pretty amazing, don’t you think?

To learn more about the 2013 event and award recipients, visit the IGC Website.