SHRMLabs has launched its second annual Better Workplaces Challenge Cup competition, a search for innovative workplace technologies that will reinvent how work is done.
The contest aims to bridge the gap between companies that are creating workplace technologies and their end-users: HR professionals and their workforces.
The first application deadline for the Better Workplaces Challenge Cup is Jan. 31. Applications will be accepted through March 28.
"The biggest thing that is new is that we're going global," said Guillermo Corea, managing director of SHRM's Workplace Innovation Lab. "We are excited to expand the competition outside the United States and are seeking applications from around the world. There are critical workplace challenges worldwide. And we know that solutions can be found worldwide."
Corea explained that the competition will expose HR professionals to companies from around the globe developing innovative technologies. "Additionally, these companies have an opportunity to hear about the real-world needs that could help transform workplaces for professionals working in HR. It's truly a win-win."
Another difference this year is that participants are no longer limited by the region they are located in. Entrepreneurs can select any one of the initial 10 rounds to participate in, being held in different time zones around the world.
The criteria for entry are the same as last year. Participants must submit a video presentation and take part in a Q&A session with a panel of judges made up of HR practitioners, subject matter experts and business executives. Competitors are evaluated on business viability, innovation and added value to SHRM members.
The three-round competition—leading to a $50,000 cash prize and/or other investment opportunities and prizes—kicks off in late February. The top two startups from each of the 10 first-round competitions will advance to one of two virtual semifinals in May. From each semifinal round, two companies will emerge to the in-person final championship competition being held at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2022 on June 12-15 in New Orleans.
"Competition will be tougher this year because we are lowering the number of rounds from 17 to 10, as well as the number of participants per round from 10 to 7," Corea said. "Limiting the number of participants will allow more time in front of judges and help streamline the competition."
Last year, more than 150 solutions providers across the United States initially competed for the prize, with five regional winners being invited to present at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021 in the final round of competition.
The perk stipend software company Compt took home the grand prize.
"Winning the challenge was catalytic for Compt," said Amy Spurling, co-founder and CEO of the Boston-based company. "Being recognized by SHRM as one of the most innovative companies in HR right now gives us a level of credibility with HR leaders that you can't simply pay for. They look to SHRM as a thought leader that is making a difference out there. Being recognized for helping companies build more inclusive environments by redefining how they approach employee perks has been a game changer."
The competition, launched last year, was the first of its kind in which HR practitioners had a direct role in determining the workplace innovations that are truly needed, especially during this time of great disruption in the workplace.
"When this competition was devised, we wanted to have a positive impact on workplaces while bringing forth needed technology to HR professionals," Corea said. "What we saw last year was a great interest from SHRM members in wanting to engage in the discussion about workplace tech. We also saw a wide breadth of solutions being created. All areas of HR were covered, including DE&I [diversity, equity and inclusion], leadership development, talent acquisition, personalized benefits and many more."
To learn more about SHRMLabs, and the Better Workplaces Challenge Cup, please visit https://www.shrmlabs.com/.