WHITE PLAINS, New York – There’s no denying that services like Ovi Life Tools and Nokia Money are invaluable to those living in the developing nations; but do you have an original idea for a service up your sleeve? Back in CES, during January this year, Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo announced the Growth Economy Venture Challenge, laying down the gauntlet to all innovators. The challenge? Submit a business plan for a mobile product or service to improve the lives of those in the developing world.The prize? – cue comedy voice – one million dollars. The challenge is nearing an end, so, who’ll be judging? Is it too late to get involved? Join us after the jump.
Since launching the challenge, there have been heaps of submissions from 30 countries. Most of them have come from India, followed by the United States and Kenya. Facing the daunting task of selecting the innovative wheat from the not-quite-as-inspired chaff are a panel of esteemed judges; compromising of an Emmy Award winning filmmaker, executive producer of TED Media, and a pioneer of instant messaging. Intrigued? Here’s a rundown of the lucky few to decide the fate of that $1million dollars:
- June Cohen, Executive Producer of TED Media: June led the charge to bring the TED conference online, launching TEDTalks in 2006 and the new TED.com in 2007. She also co-produces the annual conference and manages the media team;
- Jesse Dylan, director, filmmaker and Creative Director and CEO of Form: Jesse is well known for directing his Emmy Award winning video YES WE CAN SONG, inspired by Barack Obama. Jesse is also the founder of Lybba, a non-profit organization that uses research, design, technology, and media to drive change in healthcare;
- Erik Hersman, Blogger: Raised in Sudan and Kenya, Erik writes two different technology blogs including: AfriGadget and WhiteAfrican. One dedicated to low-tech African ingenuity, and the other to high-tech mobile and web changes happening throughout Africa; Erik is also founder of Ushahidi, the crowd-sourced disaster response site.
- Jennifer Schenker, Journalist: Jennifer has been covering the technology sector in Europe for over 30 years. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of Informilo, a media website linking big technology companies with startups. Prior to Informilo, she held positions with BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal Europe, Time magazine and Time Digital Europe, International Herald Tribune and Red Herring;
- Ram Shriram, Industry Insider: As founder of Sherpalo, Ram helps guide technology entrepreneurs in the process of turning ideas into successful businesses. Prior to Sherpalo, Ram was an officer at Amazon.com, president of Junglee and a member of the Netscape executive team. Ram is a founding board member of Google Inc. and 247customer.com;
- Rodolfo Lara Torres heads the Technology Pioneers Programme of the World Economic Forum: Rodolfo’s worked in various strategic management positions with Siemens in Germany and was named a Global Leadership Fellow of the World Economic Forum in 2006;
- Joseph “Yossi” Vardi, high-tech veteran: Known as the “godfather”, Joseph is the founding investor and the former chairman of Mirabilis Ltd, the creator of the highly popular instant messaging program ICQ.
A worthy bunch, we think. Fancy your chances against this dragon’s den? It’s not too late. Head over to the Growth Economic Venture Challenge to submit your ideas. The closing date is July 31st 2010 and the finalists will be announced in August, by none other than OPK himself, during Nokia World.