Security & Safety Things is now Azena. Learn more about our recent name change. 

Innovation Challenge Pittsburgh: Hackathon for innovative solutions

At Security and Safety Things, we love to meet and support innovative founders. Adam Wynne, our Software Engineering Manager, reports from the latest Reverse Pitch & Innovation Challenge in Pittsburgh, where he did his first ‘reverse-pitch’.

Full house at Adam’s presentation at the Pittsburgh Reverse Pitch & Innovation Challenge I source: SAST
Full house at Adam’s presentation at the Pittsburgh Reverse Pitch & Innovation Challenge I

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Adam, have you ever done a reverse pitch?

I have to admit I didn't know what a ‘reverse-pitch’ was before this event. Prior to Security and Safety Things I had a role as a corporate technical leader, where you're more used to seeing pitches from other people.

As the name suggests, a reverse-pitch reverses the roles of companies and start-ups: We share our innovation needs with entrepreneurs and pitch for their support. It was a completely new experience for me.

At the Reverse Pitch & Innovation Challenge in Pittsburg we had the opportunity to present our open IoT platform for security cameras to the local startup community. There is an incredible amount of innovation in the city around AI and computer vision.

My aim was to challenge the entrepreneurial community to develop new kinds of computer vision applications that can take advantage of the latest AI hardware accelerators running on smart cameras adapted for our open source ecosystem. I think that's what we've achieved.

What’s in it for innovative start-ups?

Generally speaking initiatives like the Reverse Pitch & Innovation Challenge help start-ups to better understand the needs of local corporations that can become partners, customers and investors in their businesses. Entrepreneurs and innovators can build relationships for direct funding of pilot(s), collaboration or future career opportunities.

Our reverse-pitch offered start-ups in in the IoT/AI space the chance to be part of an exciting technological development: by creating new applications on our new open IoT platform they help establish standards for smart cameras in the IoT. This also offers an opportunity to break into a market they wouldn't otherwise have access to.

What was the plan for the day?

All presenters - besides me there were speakers from Bayer, Highmark Health and Rio Tinto - provided short presentations on their interest areas and innovation needs, called ‘innovation challenge’. 200+ innovators and entrepreneurs across a variety of disciplines, from AI/ML to life science backgrounds were eager to find out what innovation challenge might fit their business.


The event lasted 4 hours and offered plenty of space for networking with local entrepreneurs and innovators. We met a lot of interesting people there. The atmosphere was relaxed, people had a lot of fun discussing technological innovation

What is the ‘innovation challenge‘ about?

Brick-and-mortar retailers need data analytics to survive because they are facing strong competition from online retailers. They need to understand how to improve sales by studying how people move through the store and interact with merchandise. Additionally, applications for retail are applicable to other use cases such as public safety, transportation or entertainment. That’s why our innovation challenge focuses on the area of retail analytics.

We at Security and Safety Things do not develop solutions for retail ourselves, but offer an open source platform for it. That's why we are looking for entrepreneurs to develop applications that can automatically detect and analyse critical events in shops such as checkout queues or customers’ behaviors. Our new open platform makes it very easy to develop and test applications that run directly on security cameras.

Worth reading: GSX Chicago 2019 Recap -  Security and Safety Things

What’s next?

The innovation challenge will be open for submissions on April 1st and will run for approximately 8 weeks. We have committed pilot funding for the best submission that meets our requirements. Innovators who like to be added to the email list for Innovation Challenge announcements, can use the contact form here.

We can hardly wait to see the first ideas and concepts.

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