The Innovation Partners Institute at the Purdue Research Foundation Announces First Ever West Lafayette Smart City Challenge

Challenge finalists may secure up to $15,000 and the chance to pilot a prototype for the City of West Lafayette 

(West Lafayette, Indiana) September 28, 2021 – Today, Innovation Partners Institute (IPI) at the Purdue Research Foundation together with the City of West Lafayette, the Indiana 5G Zone, and US Ignite announced the West Lafayette (WL) Smart City Challenge. This competition expects to tap into innovative solutions that improve public safety at Discovery Park. 

“Through this challenge, the streets of West Lafayette can become a safer place for vulnerable road users – like pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders, skaters, and motorcyclists that share the roadway with autonomous and larger vehicles,” said Erin Easter, Director of Development at the City of West Lafayette. “Improving the safety for WL residents and visitors is a top priority, and we are enthusiastic about the outcomes of this competition.” 

The roads of Discovery Park become high-trafficked areas during certain events such as football games, concerts, and festivals. Moreover, West Lafayette’s population nearly doubles when students return to campus every Fall. The WL Smart City challenge asks participants to develop a scalable IoT (Internet-of-Things) solution and/or software application to improve safety for vulnerable road users who navigate high-traffic corridors and intersections during major seasonal events. 

“The town-gown partnership between Purdue and West Lafayette is writing yet another new chapter in the Innovation Campus,” stated Mung Chiang, Executive Vice President and Dean of the College of Engineering at Purdue University. “We cherish the opportunity to create jobs and knowledge together, and now we can do lab-to-life translation of the latest invention in communications, transportation, public safety and benefit our neighborhood. We encourage inventors and entrepreneurs from around the country to participate in the Smart City Challenge!” 

The WL Smart City Challenge will have three phases. The first phase asks participants to submit a proposal via an online application by December 3, 2021. Up to three teams will be awarded $5,000 each to develop a prototype in the second phase. The three finalist teams will obtain access to historical datasets as well as real time data from current infrastructure and opportunities to deploy new sensors. The finalist teams will also have opportunities to engage with the Challenge’s Technology Advisory Board made up of experts from leading technology companies in the IoT, 5G, and data analytics space. The Technology Advisory Board will serve as coaches and mentors to the teams and as proposal and project evaluators. 

For the third phase, one of the finalists will pilot their solution for the City of West Lafayette, as well as gain access to potential investors and a one-year membership to NT Convergence. 

“We designed the WL Smart City Challenge with the intent of offering more than a competitive challenge opportunity,” explained Dr. Troy Hege, Vice President, Innovation and Technology at the Purdue Research Foundation and lead WL Smart City Challenge organizer. “We really wanted to support the teams with technical coaching and mentorship to enable the best ideas to be advanced successfully.” 

The WL Smart City Challenge welcomes proposals from any U.S. university-based faculty and/or student (graduate or undergraduate) teams; or U.S. owned and operated startups or businesses with less than 25 employees. More information and details about the evaluation process for proposals can be found at Interested parties should participate in the upcoming virtual information session in on October 19, 2021, to learn more about the challenge. 

“US Ignite specializes in guiding communities to utilize prizes and challenges to uncover innovative and scalable solutions with a high impact potential,” said Jigyasa Sharma, Program Manager at US Ignite. “The West Lafayette Smart City Challenge generates an opportunity for the best ideas that leverage existing data and information to produce actionable insights for improving road user safety and get in front of key decision makers and potential investors.” 

 Media Contacts: 

Erin Easter – 765-775-5161 

Lizzette Arias – 571-245-0016 

About Challenge Sponsors 

Innovation Partners Institute: 

The Innovation Partners Institute is located in the Convergence Center, in the heart of the new Purdue University Discovery Park District. Literally on campus, the Discovery Park District is a playground for innovation providing access to world-class researchers, leading companies, state-of-the-art facilities, core-labs, and advanced technology centers. This 400+ acre mixed use development is also being planned as a “connected community” powered by a 5G+ technology infrastructure comprised of fiber, edge data-center, multi-use spectrum including CBRS, and multiple IOT and AI test beds. 

City of West Lafayette: 

The City of West Lafayette, Indiana, is home to Purdue University. As part of its strategic plan, the City is looking to make its community more sustainable as well as biker and pedestrian friendly. 

Indiana 5G Zone: 

The Indiana 5G Zone (IN5GZ), one of many NineTwelve initiatives, is advancing the transformation of physical industries by powering Smart Cities, Smart Logistics, and Advanced Manufacturing. Their cross-sector demonstration 5G lab is the first of its kind to enable government, business, and academia to design and commercialize groundbreaking testbed offerings with immediate practical applications. 

US Ignite: 

US Ignite is a high-tech nonprofit with a mission to accelerate the smart community movement. Our public-private partnership programs leverage advanced networking and data science to drive key outcomes for communities. Our work also enables new opportunities for wireless and IoT research designed to help narrow the gap between cutting-edge experimentation and scalable, real-world technology deployments. For more information, visit 

About the Technology Advisory Board 

Purdue Foundry: 

The Purdue Foundry exists to help Purdue students, faculty and local alumni move ideas to the marketplace more quickly. It is a place to transform innovators into entrepreneurs by providing advice on entity formation, ideation, market analysis and business model development. We are focused on helping individuals at Purdue who have business or product ideas and want to turn them into a company. The process and passion for the success of each company is driven by the entrepreneur and while the Foundry provides support, education and additional tools to help each client reach success. 

NEXT Studios: 

Founded in 2020, NEXT Studios is a venture studio that is a partnership of experienced entrepreneurs who help visionaries share their ideas, craft them through a repeatable process, and move them forward with capital and talent. The studio works with entrepreneurs across the state to move their ideas into products and their products into companies. The studio uses a proven process to reduce the risk for investors and encourage more local investors to get involved in our local innovation economy. 


Ericsson is one of the leading providers of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to service providers. We enable the full value of connectivity by creating game-changing technology and services that are easy to use, adopt, and scale, making our customers successful in a fully connected world. 


Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) enables people to make powerful connections–whether in business, education, philanthropy, or creativity. Cisco hardware, software, and service offerings are used to create the Internet solutions that make networks possible–providing easy access to information anywhere, at any time. 


Tilson is on a mission to build America’s information infrastructure. Recognized eleven consecutive years on the Inc. 5000, Tilson provides network deployment and information system professional services to telecom, construction, utility and government clients. As a leading network design, build, and operating firm, Tilson builds high-performing technology project teams who take on the largest and most impactful information infrastructure projects in the country. 


Miovision provides cities with modern tools to fix today’s traffic problems. We offer solutions that collect multimodal traffic data and uncover actionable insights, helping municipalities get more out of their road network. The company started by three University of Waterloo friends in a basement has evolved into the leading authority on traffic data. Miovision began as a traffic solution company, but our continued approach to innovation and dedication to solving real-world problems has led us to where we stand today: helping cities achieve their smart city visions. 


AT&T creates connection – with each other, with the things people and businesses need to thrive every day, and with the stories and experiences that matter. Connectivity simply makes the world better, and we believe everyone should have the internet access they need to live, learn, work and play to life’s fullest. Learn more at