Four Startups Awarded $60K in Illinois Open Technology Challenge

Four teams of app developers across Illinois have been awarded $15,000 each in the Illinois Open Technology Challenge (ILOpenTech).Selected for their work in creating digital tools, to give easier access to open government data, the pilot competition focused on three locations – Champaign, Belleville, and a group of South Suburban communities. There was also an entry designed for use statewide.

“We commend these enterprising developers for applying their skills toward making municipal government more transparent and accessible for Illinoisans,” says Governor Pat Quinn who announced the winning entries. “This first-of-its-kind initiative clearly demonstrates that Illinois is taking a national leadership role in embracing digital government and promoting open data, which is spurring more innovation and economic development statewide.”

Tyron Foston, of Park Forest, developed iApplied. It’s a web app that tracks job application activity to help government unemployment security workers streamline the review process for unemployment insurance benefits. He came up with the idea after speaking with unemployed friends and realized the state needs a more effective system to verify unemployment benefits eligibility.

“It is my hope that iApplied will reduce government staff workloads, encourage unemployment beneficiaries to apply for jobs and ultimately make more efficient use of taxpayer dollars,” says Foston.

Other winning entries include Belleville Code, a centralized easy-to-navigate website containing Belleville’s Revised City Ordinances, described as an essential tool for anyone interested in economic development and entrepreneurship.

C-U There!, is a Champaign-Urbana “tour guide” app for iPhone featuring local news, events, parking locations, and directories for historic landmarks and local businesses.

The South Suburbs Housing Investment Tool entry won because it would allow online users to analyze, score and rank potential housing development projects according to their proposed location and superimpose the data on a fully navigable map.

ILOpenTech is an initiative of Governor Quinn’s Illinois Innovation Council and managed by the Illinois Science & Technology Coalition, a nonprofit organization working to cultivate and attract research and technology-based investment, talent and job growth in the state. ❒

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