Every year there’s an “off broadway” event during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona which is always way more focused around startups and new applications. Although MWC has this year created an entire, echoing hall called AppsPlanet, the Mobile Premier Awards organised by dotopen usually surfaces most of the best new apps largely because of its symbiotic relationship with the 75 MobileMonday chapters worldwide and mobile entrepreneurs, and because its free to enter for startups. This year pulled in 600 start up submissions globally. Back at MWC you only find mobile apps that can afford stands, like, er, Skype.
Here’s a run down of the winners at the MPAs today.
Mobile augmented reality browser Layar won the Best Start Up in Marketing Award, because it’s bound to be used for brand mobile marketing going forward. But it was a double-header as it also won the award for Best Start Up in Entertainment. Layar is playing quite a smart game, providing easy access for third party apps to run on its Layar Reality Browser on Android (iPhone version due this month). It’s helping to create a greater uptake of augmented reality, fast becoming an entertaining medium with augmented reality gaming. There are now 375 “layers” and about 1200 in development. In other words. Amsterdam based Layar has had 1m downloads. [Update: Layer just announced new funding].
The Best Start Up in User Experience Award went to flook, the location browser, which judges said proved “clever interaction flow, interesting visual metaphors, customer involvement and attention to detail.” Flook was created by founders from a team of former Symbian co-founders and former senior members of Psion and Yahoo! Flook is a location browser with social navigation and networking features on iPhone funded by Amadeus Capital Partners and Eden Ventures.
The award for Social Change went to the Rede Jovem Program from NGO Comunitas (Brazil). Rede uses mobiles for story telling and mapping in the deprived slums of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
Souktel and adaffix won the award for for best woman-lead mobile startup, in partnership with Women 2.0 and the Women in Mobile Data Association. Amber Houssian (Souktel) and Claudia Poepperl (adaffix) shared the award. Souktel is the Middle East’s first mobile service that uses SMS and voice technology to link young people with jobs–and connect aid agencies with people who need help. adaffix describes itself as a “Call 3.0 company adds social and local content to calls in real time.”