Last Thursday marked the closing of the NC DataPalooza competition, the first-ever regional event of its kind. The event encouraged the use open data as a driver of positive social and economic impact and brought national attention to the open source innovation happening in the Triangle.
Keynote speakers Ian Kalin, Director of Open Data at Socrata, and Gunnar Hellekson, Chief Technology Strategist for Red Hat’s US Public Sector, flew in from across the country to participate in the event. Marshall Brain, Founder of HowStuffWorks and NCSU professor, also spoke. The final three teams from the 90-day competition presented business concepts and application prototypes to an esteemed panel, with one team taking the winning spot.
Says judge and corporate sponsor Susan Helm-Murtagh of BCBSNC, “The most difficult part of DataPalooza was actually serving on the judges’ panel. The three finalist teams put together strong and compelling cases for their ideas; narrowing it to one winner was a real challenge!”
Ultimately, the judges’ panel awarded first place to the DLA Parking Initiative, a team developing a smart phone application to help consumers find parking in downtown areas. The application enables users to input a destination, find the closest parking, and navigate their way back to their cars using GPS and city data sources. The Parking Initiative was awarded $3500 and a demo spot at the CED Tech Venture Conference this week. Team members included Leo Suarez, Eric Majewicz, Ian Henshaw, Jim Belt, King White, James Nolfo, and Greg Pahel.
Other concepts included a water-monitoring device for landlords and an online entrepreneurial resource for universities. Additional information about the top 3 teams is available here.
Each team received one-on-one mentorship from a Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network “Entrepreneur In Residence” during a 30-day accelerator leading up the the final pitches. Scott Moody, Co-Founder of AuthenTec and mentor for the winning team, noted, “These folks really invested in what they were doing – for Raleigh and for the Triangle. It was not just about the product, but doing good.”
Events like NC DataPalooza prove that the Triangle is a hotbed of open data and entrepreneurial activity. By engaging the entrepreneurial community and corporate partners with local and national data resources, the Triangle will continue to see community and economic advancement. We look forward to NC DataPalooza 2.0 next year!