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Four Game-Changing Tech Startups Win HPE's First Living Progress Challenge

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) launched the Living Progress Challenge (LPC) last year to inspire entrepreneurs across the globe to create software applications and digital services that improve lives. The challenge received more than 360 ideas and 130 proposals; Christopher Wellise, director of Strategic Initiativ​es for HPE Living Progress, published a series of blogs highlighting the concepts of the 20 winners from the Proposal Phase.

On Wednesday night, following a live pitch demonstration from 10 finalists at the New Lab in Brooklyn’s Navy Yard, HPE awarded prizes to four tech startups; the plan is to help bring the winning prototypes to market scale.

HPE CSO Lara Birkes took the reins five months ago, following the 2015 split of HP into two companies – HP, Inc., the company’s personal computer and printing business; and HPE, a business-focused entity. Sustainable Brands spoke with Birkes at the awards ceremony, where she told us more about the challenge.

“The LPC is our open-source platform to identify solutions to problems, foot-printing energy efficiency and disrupting traditional philanthropy and partnerships,” she said. “These participants identify the problems and the HPE team looks at solutions with the role of technology as a substantive partner.

“LPC is an opportunity for HPE technology to have an impact in the social and environmental space. Merit is the criterion for winners today and technology needs means of implementation.”

The Living Progress Challenge consists of five phases:

  1. The Idea Phase - HPE called for ideas for high-level concepts of software for social impact from around the world. These ideas were awarded with a variety of cash prizes at the end of the Idea Phase in March 2016.
  2. The Proposal Phase - Individuals and teams submitted proposals for how they would bring their idea to life. At the end of this phase, 20 Proposals were selected to move on to the next step of the Challenge ...
  3. The Design Phase – In the Design Phase, Proposal winners were provided with the developer services and resources from HPE to turn their ideas into prototypes. Of the 20 teams in the Design Phase, 10 were selected as finalists to present their prototypes and proposed solutions at the Living Progress Challenge Finals on August 3. At the LPC Finals, 4 winners were selected to move on to ...
  4. The Build Phase - In the Build Phase, the 4 winners will work directly with HPE and its partners to build their prototypes into functional, deployable solutions.
  5. The Deploy Phase - Will see the transition and hand-off of solutions to the teams

Wednesday's event marked the end of the Design Phase and a transition to the Build Phase for the winning ideas.

A panel of five adjudicated: Joy King, VP of Product Marketing & Field Engagement, HPE Software Big Data; Gregg Melinson, SVP of Corporate Affairs; Mike de La Cruz, VP of Global Delivery and Software; Susan Popper, SVP of Experience Marketing; Scarlett Sieber, SVP of Global Business Development, New Digital Businesses at BBVA.

The four winners are:

  • Connecting People to Better Lives (MentorME): focuses on mentoring high school and college students by matching them with mentors based on multiple factors such as interests, skills and geography.
  • Social Volunteer Discovery With All For Good (Points of Light): All For Good is an Internet hub for finding ways to volunteer for good. By applying machine learning and persuasive UX design to the platform, Points of Light’s vision for the future of All For Good is to transform how people discover volunteer opportunities online “from search to social.” All For Good connects people to causes that they can help using their time, talent, money, and social influence.
  • Detect IT: Fish – Using trade data to fight illegal fishing (WWF-Traffic): Global estimates suggest that more than 30 percent of all fish caught globally is illegal. This has a huge impact on the ability to manage fishery resources, as it isn’t known how much can be safely caught and still be able to protect the long-term health of fish. Traffic (a joint initiative between World Wildlife Fund and IUCN) has developed a web-based tool leveraging HPE Vertica technology that can identify potential trade flows of illegal products by highlighting discrepancies in reported trade data of fisheries products between countries. The tool enables automated data collection, comparison, and analytical assessments to detect and tackle illegal trade of fisheries products, the most heavily traded food commodity, at a global scale.
  • Helping People Increase Their Worth (PactWorld): Today more than 12 million of the world’s 2.5 billion adults excluded from financial services are participating in informal financial groups, accessing self-generated savings and credit services. The m-ledger mobile application will create a simple yet reliable recordkeeping system for these informal credit groups, directly increasing their return on investment while decreasing their opportunity costs.

As for ROI for LPC, Birkes said: “HPE technology makes an impact on society. The LPC has a different metric from our sales teams. We look for iterative efficiencies based on impact – real-life effect, bridging the digital divide and lessening the data deluge.”

Birkes remarked on the swell of support from HPE employees – many volunteering their time and knowledge to help the process and experiencing “what it’s like for a company to come together from the inside. Volunteerism is in our DNA.”

Birkes said she was moved by the presenters’ passion, which was palpable in the pitches.

“They are authentic, positive and enthusiastic. I am hopeful,” she said. “We need to make sure there’s a business case and it’s not just CSR. LPC is an iterative process, like turning a tanker, but once it turns the changes are immediate.”

HPE’s LPC is indeed a tanker turning to sustainable applications of its core business resources and strategy. President and CEO Meg Whitman frames the initiative thusly: “To succeed in the idea economy, technology must be aligned to run the business. Nobody is more qualified to make that happen than the new Hewlett Packard Enterprise.”


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