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Accelerate Smart Cities Innovation Challenge


The Accelerate Smart Cities Innovation Challenge brings together industry experts with innovators and startups to support smart region solutions. Over 6 weeks, teams create innovative, high-impact solutions while hearing from and collaborating with sector experts and mentors. In addition, the Challenge creates connections among key elements of the startup community and provides a novel way for municipalities to pilot cutting-edge technology solutions in priority policy or program areas.

Companies are invited to pitch their solutions to a panel of judges on an innovative topic, including the following: broadband, housing, transportation, health, water, food systems, education, infrastructure, energy, and public safety. We seek innovations that advance equitable and inclusive opportunities for all people to thrive in the greater Washington DC region. The program offers cash prizes, pilot project opportunities, office space, among other prizes. Selection is based on four criteria: Innovation, Practicality and Scalability, Regional Impact, and Social Responsibility and Equity. In addition, the competition includes thought leadership events, networking opportunities, and topical data sharing.

The Accelerate Smart Cities Innovation Challenge is designed to support the upcoming Accelerate 2024 Investor Conference on October 23-24, 2024. As the first of several planned events, the Challenge kickstarts various projects and collaboration opportunities that will benefit our region’s technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship ecosystem.

The Accelerate Smart Cities Innovation Challenge:

  • Facilitates diverse teams with a shared passion for serving our community with tangible
  • and innovative smart cities solutions
  • Recruits those interested in smart cities innovation, targeting underrepresented talent in technology and entrepreneurship
  • Promotes collaborators to local talent, including judging and mentoring opportunities
  • Enables thought leadership collaboration among organizers, collaborators, and teams
  • Strengthens our regional technology ecosystem while offering a scalable national event model


Tuesday, March 26 · 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Fuse Pilot Space, 3434 Washington Boulevard, Arlington, United States

Innovations for Safer and Smarter Energy & Water Grids

April 10, 2024, 12pm – 1pm
Online Webinar

Final Live Pitch Event

Thursday,  May 16,  2024,  04:00 pm to 07:00 pm
‍Van Metre Auditorium, 3351 Fairfax Dr, Arlington, VA 22201

About the Organizers

In partnership with Smart City Works, organizers include George Mason University, Fairfax County, The Universities of Shady Grove, and Dominion Energy Innovation Center.

Smart City Works Innovation Hub

Smart City Works is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to harness the power of digital technology to create smart, sustainable, and resilient communities. We focus on urban challenges. We deliver economic growth. Smart City Works currently leads The Northern Virginia Smart Region Initiative, powered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s i6 Economic Development Challenge grant and the Commonwealth of Virginia’s GO Virginia grant. The initiative brings together governments, universities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations to foster the development of a thriving smart city technology innovation cluster to tackle local urban challenges and expand regional economic growth in Northern Virginia and the Greater Washington Region. Along with our private and local government partners, our goal is to make Northern Virginia the forefront of urban technology innovation and a new locus of economic growth and vitality that leads the nation.

Fairfax County, VA

Fairfax County, Virginia’s largest county, is the go-to for smart technology. With more than 1.1 million residents and eleven Fortune 500 companies, professional, scientific, and technical services account for 25 percent of employment in the county, which is four times the national average. Fairfax County has created an environment that supports technological innovation and creativity. Our companies are reinventing the worlds of IT, software, aerospace and defense, and finance through breakthroughs in fields such as AI, data analytics, autonomous vehicles, mobile communications, cybersecurity, and health IT. There are more than 17,500 technology companies in the region, including innovative startups, hundreds of companies from other countries, and a vibrant minority business community making it a great place to start, grow and do business.

George Mason University

George Mason University is Virginia’s largest, most diverse, and most innovative public research university. Mason is currently ranked America’s No. 1 young university, offering accessible, affordable, inclusive, and high-quality education that prepares learners for the future. We are committed to a diverse, inclusive, and welcoming environment that fosters the highest graduation and admissions rates among diverse ethnicities. Our future depends on considering how all Mason community stakeholders can make a lasting impact in shaping the future: we collaborate with businesses, alumni, and community partners to not only build a lasting connection to Mason but also to drive economic and social impact.

Dominion Energy Innovation Center

The Dominion Energy Innovation Center, located in Ashland, Virginia, supports early-stage advanced technology companies by providing them with the collaborative space, guidance, and resources needed to accelerate their growth. Founded in November 2009, the Dominion Energy Innovation Center supports excellent ideas across a broad spectrum of industry sectors and focuses on building the alternative, renewable energy sector in Central Virginia. Founding partners of this program include the signature sponsor Dominion Energy, Activation Capital, the Town of Ashland, and Hanover County. DEIC’s main programs include the annual Center Street Pitch Competition, co-hosted with Randolph-Macon College, the DEIC Accelerate program for energy-focused startups, and the DEIC Greentech Network, a virtual incubator providing opportunities for startups around the United States. DEIC is proud of our partnerships with several other leading entrepreneurial resource organizations, including the Virginia Capital Region SBDC, the Virginia Accelerator Network, the American Made Challenge Connector Program, and the Wells Fargo-NREL IN2 Incubator program.

The Universities at Shady Grove

The Universities at Shady Grove (USG) offers nearly 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs from nine Maryland public universities on one convenient campus in Montgomery County. USG helps prepare students for rewarding careers in the region’s most high-demand fields. Students who successfully complete their coursework on the USG campus graduate with a degree from one of its nine partner universities. Through on-campus services such as academic coaching, career advising, internship preparation, personal counseling, and leadership training, students leave the USG campus with the academic skills and real-world experiences needed for successful careers.

Upcoming Events

Recent Past Events

Maker Coffee & Connect

Time/Date: June 22, 2024, 9:00 AM – 11:00 AM
Location: 1157 S High St, Harrisonburg, VA 22801, USA