Research Foundation News

October 8, 2021

Innovation Partners Institute at Purdue Research Foundation announces West Lafayette Smart City Challenge

Challenge finalists may secure up to $15,000 and the opportunity to pilot a prototype for the city of West Lafayette

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Innovation Partners Institute at the Purdue Research Foundation, together with the city of West Lafayette, the Indiana 5G Zone and US Ignite, have announced the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge. This competition expects to tap into innovative solutions that improve transportation safety at Discovery Park District.

"Through this challenge, the streets of West Lafayette can become a safer place for vulnerable road users like pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders, skaters and motorcyclists who share the roadway with autonomous and larger vehicles," said Erin Easter, director of development for the city of West Lafayette. "Improving the safety for West Lafayette residents and visitors is a top priority, and we are enthusiastic about the outcomes of this competition."

convergence-building Purdue Research Foundation's Innovation Partners Institute is one of several partners to launch the West Lafayette Smart Cities Challenge to address transportation safety in the Discovery Park District. (Purdue Research Foundation photo) Download image

John Dennis, mayor of West Lafayette, introduced the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge in a YouTube video.

The roads of Discovery Park District become highly trafficked areas during certain events such as football games, concerts and festivals. Moreover, West Lafayette's population nearly doubles every fall through spring when students return to campus. The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge asks participants to develop a scalable Internet of Things solution and/or software application to improve safety for vulnerable road users who navigate high-traffic corridors and intersections during major seasonal events.

"The town-gown partnership between Purdue and West Lafayette is writing yet another new chapter in the innovation campus," said Mung Chiang, executive vice president for strategic initiatives and the John A. Edwardson Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University. "We cherish the opportunity to create jobs and knowledge together, and now we can do lab-to-life translation of the latest invention in communications, transportation, public safety and benefit our neighborhood. We encourage inventors and entrepreneurs from around the country to participate in the Smart City Challenge."

The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge will have three phases. The first asks participants to submit a proposal via an online application by Dec. 3. Up to three teams will be awarded $5,000 each to develop a prototype in the second phase. The three finalist teams will obtain access to historical datasets as well as real-time data from current infrastructure and opportunities to deploy new sensors. The finalist teams will also have opportunity to engage with the Challenge's Technology Advisory Board, made up of experts from leading technology companies in the IoT, 5G and data analytics space. The Technology Advisory Board will serve as coaches and mentors to the teams and as proposal and project evaluators.

For the third phase, one of the finalists will pilot its solution for the city of West Lafayette and gain access to potential investors and a one-year membership to NT Convergence.

"We designed the West Lafayette Smart City Challenge with the intent of offering more than a competitive challenge opportunity," said Troy Hege, vice president of innovation and technology at the Purdue Research Foundation and lead West Lafayette Smart City Challenge organizer. "We really wanted to support the teams with technical coaching and mentorship to enable the best ideas to be advanced successfully."

The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge welcomes proposals from any U.S. university-based faculty and/or student (graduate or undergraduate) teams; or U.S.-owned and -operated startups or businesses with fewer than 25 employees. More information and details about the evaluation process for proposals can be found online. Interested parties should sign up for an upcoming virtual information session at 2 p.m. Oct. 20 on that online link to learn more about the challenge.

"US Ignite specializes in guiding communities to utilize prizes and challenges to uncover innovative and scalable solutions with a high impact potential," said Jigyasa Sharma, program manager at US Ignite. "The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge generates an opportunity for the best ideas that leverage existing data and information to produce actionable insights for improving road user safety and get in front of key decision makers and potential investors."

About Innovation Partners Institute

The Innovation Partners Institute is located in the Convergence Center in the heart of the Discovery Park District. Adjacent to the Purdue University campus, the Discovery Park District is a playground for innovation providing access to world-class researchers, leading companies, state-of-the-art facilities, core-labs and advanced technology centers. This 400-plus acre mixed-use development is also being planned as a connected community powered by a 5G+ technology infrastructure composed of fiber, edge data-center, multi-use spectrum, including CBRS, and multiple IOT and AI test beds.

About the City of West Lafayette

The city of West Lafayette is home to Purdue University. As part of its strategic plan, the city is looking to make its community more sustainable as well as biker and pedestrian friendly.

About Indiana 5G Zone

The Indiana 5G Zone, one of many NineTwelve initiatives, is advancing the transformation of physical industries by powering smart cities, smart logistics and advanced manufacturing. Its cross-sector demonstration 5G lab is the first of its kind to enable government, business and academia to design and commercialize groundbreaking testbed offerings with immediate practical applications.

About US Ignite

US Ignite is a high-tech nonprofit with a mission to accelerate the smart community movement. Our public-private partnership programs leverage advanced networking and data science to drive key outcomes for communities. Our work also enables new opportunities for wireless and IoT research designed to help narrow the gap between cutting-edge experimentation and scalable, real-world technology deployments. For more information, visit

About Purdue Foundry 

The Purdue Foundry is an entrepreneurship and commercialization hub whose professionals help Purdue innovators create startups. The Purdue Foundry is managed by the Purdue Research Foundation, which received the 2019 Innovation and Economic Prosperity Universities Award for Place from the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities. Contact the Purdue Foundry at    

About NEXT Studios

Founded in 2020, NEXT Studios is a venture studio that is a partnership of experienced entrepreneurs who help visionaries share their ideas, craft them through a repeatable process, and move them forward with capital and talent. The studio works with entrepreneurs across the state to move their ideas into products and their products into companies. The studio uses a proven process to reduce the risk for investors and encourage more local investors to get involved in our local innovation economy.

About Ericsson

Ericsson is one of the leading providers of information and communication technology to service providers. We enable the full value of connectivity by creating game-changing technology and services that are easy to use, adopt, and scale, making our customers successful in a fully connected world.

About Cisco

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About Miovision

Miovision provides cities with modern tools to fix today’s traffic problems. We offer solutions that collect multimodal traffic data and uncover actionable insights, helping municipalities get more out of their road network. The company started by three University of Waterloo friends in a basement has evolved into the leading authority on traffic data. Miovision began as a traffic solution company, but our continued approach to innovation and dedication to solving real-world problems has led us to where we stand today: helping cities achieve their smart city visions.

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Purdue Research Foundation contact: Steve Martin,

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