Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam's keynote speech this afternoon at the Consumer Electronics Show was all about the big challenges facing different industries (and indeed society as a whole), as well as the ways that Verizon technology is helping. At one point, for example, he declared, “4G LTE proves the case that innovation in networks is the foundation for innovation across the industry.”
Ultimately, however, McAdam said it's not just about Verizon: “We know that to move this industry forward, the whole ecosystem needs to be involved in the innovation process.” Which is why it's announcing a new awards program called Powerful Answers.
McAdam said Verizon is already pursuing this model in its labs in Waltham, Mass., and San Francisco, where it works with other companies to integrate Verizon technology. And his presentation was peppered with videos showcasing Verizon's efforts with different partners in different industries. (Some of them, like the Golden-i headset for firefighters and the company's sustainability partnership with Envision Charlotte, matched McAdam's idealistic rhetoric, while others, like his discussion with NFL Commissioner Roger Coodell, were more down to earth.) This approach can create “billions of dollars” in social benefit while also growing the industry, he said.
Hence the new awards. McAdam said the company will be giving out $1 million to the top contenders, with $10 million in total prizes. The contest is open to applications in healthcare, education, and sustainability that take advantage of Verizon's platforms. And it will be judged by a panel of independent experts, including Consumer Electronics Association Chairman Gary Shapiro.
According to the Powerful Answers website (which says that Verizon is in a “unique position” to launch this kind of effort), more details will be available when the contest officially launches on March 31, with the announcement of the winners at next year's CES.