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Cisco yesterday announced the winner of its first global innovation contest, the I-prize. More than 2,500 contestants from more than 100 countries competed for prize money — by submitting ideas that could potentially form new billion-dollar businesses for Cisco. The winning team, a computer science student in Germany and her husband and brother, proposed an idea for energy management.
Cisco’s contest is part of a trend toward corporate-sponsored innovation competitions as a way of attracting new ideas from outside the corporation. And apparently, one of the winners of this contest was…Cisco. While being fairly vague about the details of the winning innovation, Cisco senior vice president Marthin De Beer called the winning entry “one of the most compelling ideas we’ve seen in a very long time” in a video posted on the I-prize web page. De Beer did say that the winning idea involves an approach for energy management across the electrical grid, uisng IP networking technology. More specifically, one journalist reports it’s an idea for requiring devices to ask for power from the electical grid when they need it, rather than consuming power automatically.
The response to the contest reportedly exceeded expectations at Cisco, despite some off-topic entries such as an idea for massaging socks. How happy was Cisco with the contest’s results? Well, let’s just say the corporation has just launched another contest, this time for software developers.