(Photo gallery) Idea Challenge draws innovators and sizable crowd

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Ken Grant presentation

Ken Grant presentation
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A large crowd was on hand for the second annual Idea Challenge of the Technology Forum of Delaware.

The event featured teams that worked during the afternoon to develop and idea to improve the quality of life in the city of Wilmington with the help of technology and collaboration.

The event was held at 1313 Innovation, an incubator based in the Hercules Building in downtown Wilmington..

“We want to get our heads, spinning and our heart racing,” said Tech Forum board member, David Gates in introducing the competition.

Gates said teams had the choice of two challenges, one centering on ways to help bring businesses to the city and the other focused on ways to use technology, beyond social media,

The winning entry by a wide margin in voting.  was Burn the Beacon from the Start-it-Uppers team from the Start it Up Delaware  incubator program in downtown Wilmington. It was the second year in a row the team won the competition.

The voting, via text message, was part of the judging process.

Burn the Beacon would help connect young people coming in the city through the use of technology. The Beacons would be placed as  large displays  designed to build interaction and offer information.

The winning entry reflected teams looking for ways to find events and places to go in a city known for its commuter flight at 5 p.m. A related possibility is that young people coming to the city may not have networks of friends or family and need ways to connect.

Idea Challenge organizer George Rotsch said judges liked the beacon concept because it appeared to be capable of implementation.

Other ideas ranged from a mobile  app that would connect retailers, events and residents and events and a monorail-walking trail system that would run from the Riverfront to downtown and perhaps Trolley Square. Another idea was a drone-based food delivery system.

The event received widespread coverage in local media, perhaps a reflection of  a renewed  focus on Wilmington.

The city is seeing hundreds of millions of dollars in construction and renovation projects, often catering to younger people coming to the city.

There have been concerns that the progress could be slowed by crime concerns.  The crime rate, outside of the homicide figures, has declined. police say.

Runner-up was the Wilmington College Team, which came up with the idea of the drone-based service. The team  said an entirely home-grown effort could be part of a national rollout of the system.

Ken Anderson, of the Delaware Economic Development Office, said the Idea Challenge is important as a way to bring start-up businesses to the state. Such businesses have been the source of many of the new jobs created in recent decades, Anderson said.

The winning entry will be evaluated to see if the idea can move to the next step.

Other entries included:

– Corporate Americans: A team made up of CSC staff and sponsored by M&T Bank.

– Cyberwolves: A team led by Dennis DeBevec, a data and technology expert.

– E-Techies:  A team led by Bob Watson of Digital Eye, a marketing design firm, collaborating with technology leaders at Christiana Care.

– Four Smart Guys and Ken: A team led by social media expert Ken Grant and Rodney Jordan.

– Great Dames: Led by Sharon Kelly Hake, the team came up with the idea of the monorail and trail system.

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