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U.S. Department Of Commerce Launches $10,000 App Challenge to Better Connect Businesses with Government

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Panel of Judges Includes Senior Representatives from Tech Community and Government

Today, in conjunction with the newly-launched BusinessUSA initiative, the Department of Commerce announced the launch of their business app challenge.  The $10,000 contest challenges app developers to find innovative ways to utilize Commerce and other publicly available data and information to support American businesses.

“At the Department of Commerce and across the federal government, we have an array of tools to help make U.S. businesses more innovative, more efficient, and more competitive around the world,” said Commerce Secretary and former CEO John Bryson.  “In an increasingly mobile world, the goal of this challenge is to help create jobs by better supporting the business community with tools that strengthen their competitiveness in a global economy.”

BusinessUSA, launched last week by President Obama, is a centralized, one-stop platform to make it easier than ever for businesses to access services to help them grow and hire. The business app challenge calls on developers to utilize at least one Department of Commerce data set in creating an application that assists businesses and/or improves the service delivery of to the business community.  Developers may choose the platform that best suits them. Applicants may design for the web, personal computer, mobile handheld device, or any platform broadly accessible to the open Internet.

A panel of high-profile judges will evaluate and vote on the entries.  The panel includes:

  • John Bryson, Secretary of Commerce
  • Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google
  • Vivek Kundra, Executive Vice President of Emerging Markets,
  • Tim O’Reilly, founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media
  • Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer, Facebook
  • Steven Van Roekel, Federal CIO

"Unlocking US Government data will not only stimulate new uses for it but also draw attention to this vital trove of information that has likely lain fallow for lack of visibility and digital accessibility." Vint Cerf, Chief Internet Evangelist, Google

Specifically developers are being challenged to look for innovative ways to utilize available data to help businesses:

  • Learn about and evaluate opportunities, both here in the U.S. and internationally;
  • Access useful government services, data, and market information;
  • Fund business activities;
  • Support education and training, and
  • Facilitate or accelerate the pursuit of operating and growing their business. 

A $5,000 cash award will be given to the winner. Second place will receive $3,000 and third place will receive $2,000.

Submissions will be accepted between February 22, 2012 and April 30, 2012. Winners will be announced on May 31, 2011, or soon thereafter.

Complete contest rules and entry requirements can be found at

A list of developer-friendly data sets can be found on the Business Data and Tools page of