Vodafone chucks €150k at European mobile internet startups

Vodafone UK is offering €150,000 to the top three mobile internet startups in its annual Vodafone Mobile Clicks competition to promote and accelerate innovation in the mobile internet sector. There are six finalists from the UK and the Netherlands in the running, all of which have of course been covered by TechCrunch Europe at various times in the past.

In the red corner, representing Routemaster buses, Beefeaters and chicken tikka half and half, we have:

Audio blogging app, Audioboo
Location-based search and discovery tool, Rummble
Online collaboration hub for architects and engineers, Woobius

In the orange corner, representing clogs, tulips and windmills, we have:

Social networks collaborator My Name is E
Photo and video sharing service MobyPicture
Mobile augmented reality browser Layar

Cast your votes at www.vodafonemobileclicks.com/vote and follow the action on Twitter.

The winner will receive €75k, while the companies in second and third place get €50k and €25k respectively. The results will be announced at the PICNIC event held in Amsterdam on 25th September.

Given the European funding drought we’ve been hearing about, it would be great to see more big companies reward innovation with cold hard cash with effectively no strings attached and no equity cost. And let’s be honest, it’s probably easier and less painful to make it through the knockout rounds of a competition than it is to deal with a typical investor and land VC investment.

In an unrelated competition, Vodafone UK is also offering £1,000 and 11 HTC Magics in a Google Android app ideas competition. The company says it will develop the winning app and offer it in the Android marketplace. There’s no indication yet of whether they’ll be charging for it, and if so whether or not any revenue split will make it to the idea originator. Best read that fine print if you’re going to apply.