Press Releases

NYCEDC Launches Annual NYC BigApps Competition, Which Leverages Strength Of New York City Tech Ecosystem To Make The City a Better Place to Live, Work, Learn And Play

New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) today announced the launch of NYC BigApps 2014, the City’s annual contest for all members of the tech and civic ecosystems to create web or mobile apps and other technology products using public and private data to address pressing City challenges. NYC BigApps 2014, which will officially launch tonight at an event at the AppNexus headquarters, asks entrants to make the City a better place for all New Yorkers to live, work, learn and play in response to over 30 BigIdea Challenges around economic mobility, education, health, the environment, and more.  BigIdea 2014 Challenges have been sourced from leading organizations and City agencies, as well as Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray. New eligibility rules for NYC BigApps 2014 allow teams to submit connected devices, data tools, games, and other technology products, in addition to mobile and web apps, encouraging multidisciplinary teams of programmers, engineers, designers, marketers, entrepreneurs, and civic professionals. Mayor de Blasio challenges teams to create technological solutions to help realize his Vision Zero plan for pedestrian safety, while the First Lady calls for products that will help children struggling with emotional challenges by supporting early intervention, taking the stigma out of seeking help, and connecting students, families, educators, and their communities with mental health tools and resources. Winning teams will receive cash prizes totaling more than $100,000, as well as in-kind prizes. Official competition rules, as well as additional information and updates can be found on the competition website:    

“New York City has emerged as a major player in the global tech industry, and the BigApps competition underscores our commitment to support the tech ecosystem’s growth and success here,” said Mayor de Blasio. “In encouraging the city’s talent to participate in the BigApps competition, we’re also focusing their talent where it can best serve New Yorkers—aimed squarely at a diverse set of challenges that affect the city today.”    

“This competition will harness tech creativity to address the persistent problems facing our neighbors, from mental health resources for teens, to preventing pedestrian accidents, or other pressing concerns,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “BigApps gets us focused on the tech community's capacity to develop tools that help all New Yorkers, and I look forward to the cool concepts this year’s competition will produce."  

“Building on its tremendous success the previous four years, the BigApps competition continues to leverage the momentum of the City's tech ecosystem to create innovative apps and technologies that benefit all New Yorkers,” said NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball. “We are proud to support and encourage the growth of the tech ecosystem via BigApps, and wish all entrants the best of luck in this year's competition.”  

“We’re thrilled to continue to partner with New York City’s tech community through the annual NYC BigApps competition,” said Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications Acting Commissioner Evan Hines. “Collaboration is essential for developing innovative solutions to civic challenges, and DoITT-supported NYC Open Data provides a platform for lasting, creative applications.”  

"Up until now, New Yorkers haven't had the opportunity to easily assess the relative safety of their street, the route their child walks to school, or their neighborhood at large," said Paul Steely White, Executive Director of Transportation Alternatives. "The Mayor's announcement represents an important step forward to present crash data in a timely fashion that New Yorkers can view, understand and use, so that we can all make our city safer."  

NYC BigApps 2014 officially begins accepting submissions tonight at a convention-style event at the AppNexus headquarters in the Flatiron District, where prospective contestants can meet BigIdea Partners, data providers, and the BigApps production team, led by program administrator HR&A Advisors, Inc.  

To assist teams, the competition provides access to more than 1,100 public data sets, as well as data and APIs from dozens of private and academic partners, including 21 data partners participating for the first time this year. As part of Mayor de Blasio’s Big Apps challenge brief and to support the City’s efforts to eliminate roadway fatalities, the NYPD is releasing a long sought-after slate of user-friendly street safety data reflecting up-to-date, geo-coded crash records. The data represents all collisions for which NYPD completed an MV-104 report dating back to July 1, 2012, and can be downloaded in a variety of formats. To meet the demands of developers and advocates, the data has been formatted into an application programming interface, allowing for it to be used in the creation of apps and aggregated with other datasets.    

In addition to the data sets, participants have access to more than 80 mentors from tech and civic organizations in New York City, as well as six events between May and July designed to encourage team formation and product development. NYC BigApps 2014 is open to individuals as well companies and nonprofits. Submissions are due July 12, giving teams just over two months to form teams and build a beta product.  In late July, a panel of BigApps evaluators will choose up to 20 finalists, who will have an opportunity to refine their products in advance of a judging event and final Award Ceremony in September. Over $100,000 in cash prizes will be distributed to four grand prize winning teams who create products that make NYC a better place to Live, Work, Learn, or Play, thanks to sponsorship from tech companies such as eBay Inc., Facebook, Microsoft, MINI USA, and many others. Over the course of the previous four competitions, NYC BigApps has helped create over 300 new and innovative applications.  

NYC BigApps 2014 is supported by a broad array of program sponsors, including design consultancy Pentagram, which developed the competition’s distinctive brand, and Razorfish, which has collaborated on this year’s digital marketing strategy. Additional financial, event, and in-kind sponsors include, AppNexus, Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM), BMW iVentures, Copia, GE and FirstBuild, the Falchi Building, Google, HUGE, Huffington Post Code, Industry City, Meetup, MINI, Made in New York Media Center by IFP, Museum of the Moving Image, NYC & Company, Overture, Robin Hood Foundation, Socrata, Songza, WeWork, and XO Group, among others. Their support has made it possible to greatly increase the amount of prizes and events throughout the competition.    

“We believe in the power of technology to make the world a better, more sustainable and enabling place for all people,” said Lauren Moore, Head of Global Social Innovation at eBay Inc.  “We’re excited to support NYC BigApps — as well as the startup innovators that will emerge from the competition — for a second straight year. We look forward to all the great impact to come as teams across New York build and launch their innovations and work to tackle some of the city’s biggest social challenges.”    

“We are really excited to kick off BigApps 2014 as this event is a great symbol of the support and enthusiasm that we in the tech industry have felt from the city,” said Serkan Piantino, Site Director of Facebook NY.  “The BigApps teams are building the apps or hardware that will help New Yorkers Live, Work, Learn and Play. I hope they each get to experience what it’s like to have thousands or maybe millions of people use your creations and find value in them. That is a truly rewarding and addictive experience.”    

“Microsoft believes that technology can empower individuals and organizations to change the world for the better,” said John Paul Farmer, Director of Technology & Civic Innovation for Microsoft Corporation.  “We are proud to support NYC BigApps as this pioneering initiative focuses the attention of civic hackers, tech companies, startups, non-profits, and civil servants to collaboratively build innovative solutions that meet New York City’s shared cross-sector challenges. With a comprehensive approach that supplies innovators with key data, resources, mentors, and networks, NYC BigApps sets a new standard for what civic innovation can and should be.”    

In addition to program sponsors, NYC BigApps’ strategic BigIdea partners will ensure participants receive a wealth of supportive resources throughout the competition, including access to detailed problem briefs that describe NYC challenges, expert advisors who help guide product development and provide feedback, and packages of additional prizes and ongoing support. This year’s BigIdea-specific prizes include a tour of City Hall and lunch at Gracie Mansion, offered by the Mayor and First Lady, as well as free co-working space at several tech incubators, continued social media promotion, and meetings with influential New York City investors.    

The 2014 BigIdea Partners are: Alliance for Downtown New York, BluCarbon Analytics, Center for Active Design, Center4/FEGS, Citi Bike, Cleanweb NY, Copia Interactive, CSNYC, Enterprise Community Partners (with the Furman Center for Real Estate and Urban Policy), the Coalition for Debtor Education, GE FirstBuild, Grow NYC, IBM, Long Island City Partnership, the Mayor's Fund to Advance NYC, the Mayor’s Office of Long-Term Sustainability and Planning, NYC 311, NYC ACRE, NYC Department of Education iZone, NYCEDC, NYC Department of Health, NYC Office of Financial Empowerment, NYC Vision Zero Task Force, Pencil, Pure Energy Partners, Robin Hood Foundation, Save the Garment Center, Solar One, Teach For America, Tomorrow Lab, Tresensa, Trust for Governors Island, Upwardly Global.    

The 2014 BigApps Data and Platform Providers are: NYC Open Data, Enigma, General Assembly, GovLab, Ontodia, Parse, Socrata, SeatGeek, Datasphere Corporation, CartoDB, Foursquare, Yelp, The New York Times, LinkUp, littlebits, Lehman College/City University of New York, CSRHub LLC, Mapbox, Twilio, Simplify Commerce by MasterCard, Yahoo!, GitHub, Technical Machine, Embedly, State of New York, Alliance for Downtown New York, Voting Information Project, Tessel, Nomi, Octopart, and a number of other partners.    

Joining HR&A on the program management team are three New York City-based startups: Splash!, an event planning and management platform; Super-Vision, an event production agency; and Let’s Collaborate, which promotes and convenes the local tech community.    

Originally launched in 2009, NYC BigApps has helped create over 300 apps, and has engaged more than 400,000 New Yorkers. The first NYC BigApps competition in 2009 made more than 170 official City data sets available and received 85 eligible submissions. Last year’s grand prize winner, HealthyOut, is an iPhone app that allows New Yorkers to quickly locate healthy meals at restaurants nearby. With a few simple clicks, users can search for dishes by nutrition or mood preference. HealthyOut has raised $1.2 million in seed funding and will soon be in 500 cities across the United States.  


New York City Economic Development Corporation is the City's primary vehicle for promoting economic growth in each of the five boroughs. NYCEDC's mission is to stimulate growth through expansion and redevelopment programs that encourage investment, generate prosperity and strengthen the City's competitive position. NYCEDC serves as an advocate to the business community by building relationships with companies that allow them to take advantage of New York City's many opportunities. Find us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, or visit our blog to learn more about NYCEDC projects and initiatives.


About HR&A Advisors  

HR&A Advisors (HR&A) is an industry-leading real estate and economic development consulting firm. HR&A is the author of the April 2014 report The New York City Tech Ecosystem, which concluded the local tech economy supports nearly 300,000 jobs, and is the administrator, also on behalf of NYCEDC, of Take the H.E.L.M. (Hire + Expand in Lower Manhattan). HR&A has provided strategic advisory services for some of the most complex mixed-use, neighborhood, downtown, and regional development projects across North America and abroad for over thirty years, and has offices in New York, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C.


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Kate Blumm/Ian Fried

(212) 312-3523