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Innovation Partners Institute Announces West Lafayette Smart City Challenge
Indiana Ag Connection - 10/11/2021

Innovation Partners Institute at the Purdue Research Foundation, together with the city of West Lafayette, the Indiana 5G Zone and US Ignite, have announced the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge. This competition expects to tap into innovative solutions that improve transportation safety at Discovery Park District.

"Through this challenge, the streets of West Lafayette can become a safer place for vulnerable road users like pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders, skaters and motorcyclists who share the roadway with autonomous and larger vehicles," said Erin Easter, director of development for the city of West Lafayette. "Improving the safety for West Lafayette residents and visitors is a top priority, and we are enthusiastic about the outcomes of this competition."

The roads of Discovery Park District become highly trafficked areas during certain events such as football games, concerts and festivals. Moreover, West Lafayette's population nearly doubles every fall through spring when students return to campus. The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge asks participants to develop a scalable Internet of Things solution and/or software application to improve safety for vulnerable road users who navigate high-traffic corridors and intersections during major seasonal events.

"The town-gown partnership between Purdue and West Lafayette is writing yet another new chapter in the innovation campus," said Mung Chiang, executive vice president for strategic initiatives and the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University. "We cherish the opportunity to create jobs and knowledge together, and now we can do lab-to-life translation of the latest invention in communications, transportation, public safety and benefit our neighborhood. We encourage inventors and entrepreneurs from around the country to participate in the Smart City Challenge."

The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge will have three phases. The first asks participants to submit a proposal via an online application by Dec. 3. Up to three teams will be awarded $5,000 each to develop a prototype in the second phase. The three finalist teams will obtain access to historical datasets as well as real-time data from current infrastructure and opportunities to deploy new sensors. The finalist teams will also have opportunity to engage with the Challenge's Technology Advisory Board, made up of experts from leading technology companies in the IoT, 5G and data analytics space. The Technology Advisory Board will serve as coaches and mentors to the teams and as proposal and project evaluators.

For the third phase, one of the finalists will pilot its solution for the city of West Lafayette and gain access to potential investors and a one-year membership to NT Convergence.

"We designed the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge with the intent of offering more than a competitive challenge opportunity," said Troy Hege, vice president of innovation and technology at the Purdue Research Foundation and lead West Lafayette Smart City Challenge organizer. "We really wanted to support the teams with technical coaching and mentorship to enable the best ideas to be advanced successfully."

The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge welcomes proposals from any U.S. university-based faculty and/or student (graduate or undergraduate) teams; or U.S.-owned and -operated startups or businesses with fewer than 25 employees. More information and details about the evaluation process for proposals can be found online. Interested parties should sign up for an upcoming virtual information session at 2 p.m. Oct. 20 on that online link to learn more about the challenge.

"US Ignite specializes in guiding communities to utilize prizes and challenges to uncover innovative and scalable solutions with a high impact potential," said Jigyasa Sharma, program manager at US Ignite. "The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge generates an opportunity for the best ideas that leverage existing data and information to produce actionable insights for improving road user safety and get in front of key decision makers and potential investors."

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