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Commerce Dept. Offers $10,000 For Entrepreneur Apps

Prize money will go to developers of Web, PC, or mobile apps to support the BusinessUSA initiative promoting business growth.

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The Department of Commerce is challenging developers to use federal open business data to build new applications that will help foster growth among U.S. businesses.

The department is offering $10,000 in prizes as part of the recently launched BusinessUSA initiative, which is aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and helping current businesses expand, according to a concurrent post on The Commerce Blog and the White House blog.

The challenge--which will be judged by a prestigious panel of private- and public-sector experts--requires developers to use at least one data set from the department to create an app that helps businesses and/or improves the services the website offers.

Developers can choose to develop for the Web, PC, or a mobile device platform, and they can use tools found on the open-data repository to help them leverage Commerce data sets.

Apps will be judged on a number of criteria, including how they can help businesses do the following:

-- Learn about and evaluate opportunities, both in the United States and overseas

-- Access useful government services, data, and market information

-- Acquire funding

-- Support education and training

-- Facilitate or accelerate the pursuit of business growth and operations

[ Read about the Obama Administration's focus on technology as a way to foster job creation. See Push Tech To Private Market Faster, Fed Agencies Told. ]

A panel of high-profile government and industry experts--including U.S. CIO Steven VanRoekel, U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson, and notable private-sector technology executives--will choose first-, second- and third-place winners, who will receive $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000, respectively.

Other judges for the contest include Google Chief Internet Evangelist and Internet pioneer Vint Cerf; Executive Vice President of Emerging Market and former U.S. CIO Vivek Kundra; founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media Tim O'Reilly; and Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg.

Developers have until April 30 to submit entries. More information about rules and how to enter is available on the challenge website.

The feds launched the BusinessUSA website as part of a broader presidential directive aimed at working with companies to get federal research into the commercial market faster and to promote economic growth through business development.

The website provides a place for businesses to find information on federal programs and services that will help them get startup funds or increase exporting; it also offers other ways they can connect with the government and each other to foster growth.

InformationWeek's 2012 Government IT Innovators program will feature the most innovative government IT organizations in the 2012 InformationWeek 500 issue and on Does your organization have what it takes? The nomination period for 2012 Government IT Innovators closes April 27.

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