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November 21, 2014
That was the first slice of guiding wisdom doled out to this year’s Combustion Chamber finalists. Short, sweet, and to the point—like any great pitch.
And pitch they did. Six finalist teams entered the Combustion Chamber on a cool October 27thevening to present their market-ready ideas to a judge panel of five firm partners. Four teams secured investment funding, yet each exited with invaluable entrepreneurial experience—and a special sense of connection.
A total of $120,000 was awarded to four winning finalist teams at the end of the event—a record for the Combustion Chamber, and a powerful reinforcement of Booz Allen’s commitment to entrepreneurship and investing in great ideas that push the firm forward.
Nearly 100 Booz Allen staff and senior leaders gathered for the event in District Hall—a recently minted civic workspace in Boston’s Innovation District—to celebrate innovation, collaboration, and the excitement of future opportunity. As Boston has invested in entrepreneurship and reinvented itself as a forward-thinking city in recent years, Booz Allen has charted a similar path. The firm’s investments in innovation and transformative ideas have led to partnerships with companies like Intel and Microsoft and startup incubators like 1776 and CIC, as well as produced events like pitch jams, the Ideas Festival, and the Combustion Chamber.
“One of our keys ideas,” said Executive Vice President and Strategic Innovation Group lead Karen Dahut during her opening address, “Was to infuse and inspire innovation across the institution [of Booz Allen.]” Now in its third iteration, the Combustion Chamber is a hallmark example of that infusion. The evening’s winning solutions blended various markets and capabilities, from a pathogen-sequencing database to control early disease outbreaks to an adaptive problem-resolution mobile app that helps DoD hardware and software engineers troubleshoot.
Solutions were expectedly mature and presentations well rehearsed, yet pitches were fun and exciting above all, as the finalists utilized elements such as branded t-shirts, fake iPads, and even a popsicle-stick dinosaur display to illustrate the value and applicability of their solutions.Over the course of the evening, Combustion Chamber judges awarded investment funding and extended corporate mentorship and support to the following teams:
The six finalists were down-selected from 20 original idea submissions. All who applied, but were not chosen to advance, will receive feedback so that no ideas get left behind. This engagement with the firm’s innovation pipeline is crucial to our business, as every idea is an opportunity.
The Boston Combustion Chamber was a perfect example of the firm’s commitment to, as Karen Dahut said in her closing remarks: “ the relentless pursuit of original innovation.”