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2015 Competition & Awards

$250,000 Columbia Venture Competition - Finalists for the SIPA Dean's Challenge

In September 2014, nine semi-finalist teams were chosen in the second competition of the SIPA Dean’s Public Policy Challenge. Semifinalist teams participated in boot camps including Prototyping, Financial Planning, Law and Startups and Effective Pitching. Teams were also provided support through funding and a team of Advisors. In January 2015, five finalist teams were selected to further refine and develop their projects. Winners of the second round of competition were announced in April 2015. 


Students: Maelis Carraro, Lina Henao, Daniela Hernandez, Felipe Pacheco, Steven Pallickal

RemitMas is a cash-to-savings digital money transfer service that transforms the way Latino immigrants remit. Customers will have the ability to send money home, deposit directly into savings wallets for their families' education, health and housing needs, and become better financial decision makers.

Students: George Hampton, David Santos de Padua, Gemma Peacocke

Spokey: Across America social, sporting, charitable, and community groups are faced with similar problems: falling membership dues and growing costs. Spokey is creating a hub where organizations can make extra cash by turning their vacant spaces into unique venues.



PoaPost: This proposal outlines an alternative model for postal services in Kenya, as a private, for-profit company that offers not just post but a diverse range of services that include financial services and assisting in delivery of government documents to rural areas.

Students: Adero Miwo Davis, Lauren Barrett


UrbanWatchers is a mobile app that revolutionizes the way in which users get information about their cities. This crowdsourcing app allows citizens to report problems on public goods and services and gives them user-tailored stats and alerts based on those reports.

Students:  Mario Campa, Rebeca Moreno Jiménez, Fernando Posadas Paz, Ashutosh Nanda


Yojana Wiki aims to be the most comprehensive repository of actionable information on government welfare programs in India. We want to connect users to the right programs, help them sift through the process of getting the benefit and act as an advocacy portal when it comes to expenditures and audits of welfare programs in the country.

Students: Renu Pokharna, Hariharan Sriram, Ajith Das Menon


Energy HackersBased upon the time varying energy demand of urban buildings, the local availability of solar and wind resources and the rooftop space available, Energy Hackers seeks to develop a software to find out the potential sites for renewable energy generation and storage. And then local clusters of interconnected buildings that can share this generated and stored energy among them will be mapped out to satisfy peak demands without buying high cost peak electricity from the grid.

Students: Aarabi Madhavan, Erifyli Nomikou, Shirin Jamshidi, Vijayakumaar Chandrasekar


eSwach is a data collection and analytics tool that will aid recycling companies, NGOs and the Government in Urban India, in strengthening the waste management channels and provide avenues for empowering semi-formal waste operatives.

Students: Jayant Narayan, Rana Roshni Singh Bandesha, Richa Maheshwari


Sumit: As the world transitions from the Millennium Development Goals to Sustainable Development Goals, SUMIT seeks to bolster the knowledge management infrastructure of the global development community through the creation of an open access management information systems.

Students: Matt Smith, Boris Maguire, Anca Matioc, Niels Bantilan, Elaine Kubik, Sophie Matte, Swetha Ramaswamy


Take Care is a social enterprise that delivers home-based professional healthcare service to the elders in China, especially to those in poor, childless, and other disadvantaged conditions.  It combines service recipients with service providers through an online community, integrates in a virtuously-cycled network of financial supplies and healthcare professional supplies.

Students: Susan Zheng, Jackson Guannan, Wencan Jin, Liyang Xu