SHRM Announces Regional Finalists in Workplace Technology Competition

51 innovators advance to the next round

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer April 20, 2021

​The regional round of ParagonLabs' Better Workplaces Challenge Cup is set, with 51 startup companies moving one step closer to winning the contest showcasing their innovative HR technology solutions.

ParagonLabs Better Workplaces Challenge Cup

ParagonLabs, powered by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), is a workplace innovation lab and venture capital arm of the global HR association. 

The competition aims to bridge the gap between companies that are creating workplace technologies and the end-users: HR professionals and their workforces.

"We wanted to figure out a way to engage SHRM chapter members, support the development of tech-savvy HR, and elevate HR as a thought leader on the future of work and workplace technology," said Guillermo Corea, managing director of ParagonLabs.

"The Better Workplaces Challenge Cup is a pitch competition to find the innovators who are trying to solve critical workplace challenges," he said. "The competition is unique in that it exposes HR professionals to the kinds of technologies that will help them reconfigure the workplace to meet both employers' and employees' needs, and, in turn, these startups have an opportunity to hear insights to take their solutions to the next level. It's truly a win-win."

The 51 regional finalists represent innovations in areas such as benefits administration; diversity, equity and inclusion; employee experience; HR analytics; remote work; reskilling; and workforce planning. The companies will next compete across five regional competitions in June. The five regional winners will receive an all-expenses paid trip to the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021 in Las Vegas Sept. 9-12, complimentary space on the Expo Hall Floor, and exposure to 18,000 future users and potential investors. The winner, to be named at the conference, will also be awarded a cash prize of $50,000.

Narrowing the Field

Corea said that SHRM received more than 150 submissions from companies wishing to compete in the challenge. First, all entrants were verified for eligibility as HR technology companies. Then local contests were set up in 17 cities across the U.S. and, in most cases, co-hosted with SHRM chapters.

Participants were required to submit a video presentation and take part in a Q&A session with a panel of judges from local SHRM chapter leadership and SHRM staff. The judges weighed several considerations such as:

  • Does this product create better workplaces?
  • Does this product provide value to SHRM members?
  • Is this a viable business?

The top three startups from each local round advanced to the regional round. The field will narrow again in June to five regional winners that advance to the finals. There the remaining companies will be required to present a more in-depth pitch and participate in another Q&A with a panel of senior SHRM executives and other business leaders, all in front of a live audience at SHRM's Annual Conference. The winner will be announced on the main stage by SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP.



Hire the best HR talent or advance your own career.


HR Daily Newsletter

News, trends and analysis, as well as breaking news alerts, to help HR professionals do their jobs better each business day.