Verizon 5G Retail Prototyping Challenge

NYC Media Lab will pair NYC-based startups with university faculty and students to prototype 5G solutions that can bring ideas to life for local retailers. The application is open until October 25, 2019.

About the Challenge

5G has the potential to transform the retail experience. Faster mobile connectivity will unlock and scale new experiences that offer customers and retailers new ways to shop and run their business. Worldwide spending on immersive AR and VR experiences applications in retail is expected to reach approximately $59B by 2020.

Verizon 5G Labs is already experimenting with compelling use cases that showcase how 5G and edge computing will solve pressing challenges for retailers and small businesses. Verizon announced that 5G infrastructure is coming soon to New York City, and will have a great impact businesses in your neighborhoods.

To identify and scale solutions in 5G and retail, NYC Media Lab and Verizon 5G Labs are launching the 5G Retail Prototyping Challenge. We’re looking for products, solutions and talent to help bring imaginative ideas to life for local retailers.

Join upcoming info sessions to learn about the program!

Eligibility: The 7-week prototyping Challenge is open to two core participants

Innovative companies who have a current product or service ready to deploy in the retail space, particularly companies who are intersted in exploring cutting-edge 5G capabilities with Verizon.

University Faculty & Students
Researchers who focus on data, engineering, spatial computing, design, and UI/UX, and more who are looking to gain experience and learn what's possible with 5G.

Following the application process, NYC Media Lab will select and match startup and university talent to solve retail challenges with 5G solutions. Startups and universities will work together in 5 teams throughout the 7 week program.

How it Works

NYC Media Lab & Verizon Will:

  1. Select up to 5 startups with compelling solutions that solve specific challenges for retailers and small businesses.

  2. Select and pair up to 5 university fellows with a startup throughout the course of the challenge to work alongside the startups.

  3. Pair these teams with retailers and small businesses located within NYC to build, test and refine their products to solve specific challenges.

Selected startups and university fellows are required to:

  • Participate in the full 7-week prototyping sprint.

  • Meet weekly beginning on October 21, 2019 and ending on January 14, 2020.

  • Present and demo solutions on the 5G node during the National Retail Federation in January 2020 at Verizon 5G Labs in NYC.

Selected Challenge participants will gain access the following:


  • $10K: Awarded to selected startups.

  • $5K: Awarded to selected university fellows.

Frontier Tech:

Support & Space:

  • Access to advisors across Verizon, including experts in 5G, edge computing and product development.

  • Co-working space at The Alley Powered by Verizon in Chelsea, NYC.

Join UPCOMING Info Sessions

Hear from NYC Media Lab leadership who will share details about the program and how to craft a great application! RSVP for the info sessions below. Once you register, you will receive an email with the ZOOM link to sign into the virtual conference call at the time of the session.

Monday, October 21 (12:00PM - 1:00PM). RSVP here. (Virtual Session)

Monday, October 21 (6:00PM-7:00PM). RSVP here. (In-person Session at Alley Powered By Verizon)

Wednesday, October 23 (12:00PM - 1:00PM). RSVP here. (Virtual Session)

About Verizon 5G Labs

At Verizon’s 5G Labs we work with local innovators to grow the 5G ecosystem. Together, we explore the boundaries of 5G network technology, co-create new applications and hardware, and rethink what’s possible in a 5G world. The NYC lab is already open for collaboration. And labs in Washington D.C., Waltham (MA), Palo Alto and Los Angeles are scheduled to open by the end of 2018.

Program Timeline & Commitment

Friday, Oct. 25th (11:59PM EST): Application Deadline 

Week of Oct 28th: Finalist interviews (startups and university fellows)

Friday, Nov. 1st: Selected startups and university fellows notified

Thursday, Nov. 7th: Challenge Week 1 

  • Kickoff with stakeholders (Verizon, BID, awardee teams)

  • 5G Orientation & access to Alley & intro to retailers

Thursday, Nov. 14: Challenge Week 2 

  • 5G & network orientation

  • Product roadmapping

Thursday, Nov. 21: Challenge Week 3

  • Startups meet with retailers in-site in Brooklyn

Thursday, Nov. 28: Thanksgiving break

Thursday, Dec. 5: Challenge Week 4 - Midpoint

  • Startups progress update

Thursday, Dec. 12: Challenge Week 5

  • 5G Office Hours & retailer collaborations

Thursday, Dec. 19: Holiday

Thursday, Dec. 26: Holiday

Thursday, Jan. 6: Challenge Week 6 - Final Intensive

  • Final presentation critiques

  • Final 5G network testing 

Week of Jan 13th: Prototyping Week 7

  • Demo Day!

The Application

Deadline: Friday, October 25, 2019 (Midnight)

This application form may time out in your browser. We highly recommend that you to formulate your responses in advance before submitting.