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This sponsored post is produced in association with Verizon. 

Startups have the power to change the world one idea at a time. However, many of the brightest ideas burn out on the long, hard road to implementation, often failing to raise the critical capital needed to scale up. In fact, according to a CB Insights report on the post-mortem of failed startups, 55 percent of unsuccessful companies raised $1M or less, and almost 70 percent of companies died having raised less than $5M overall.

Verizon has an answer for these startups, a “Powerful Answer” in fact. As part of their commitment to help socially transformative startups fulfill their potential, Verizon recently kicked off its 2015 Powerful Answers Award program, the technology challenge for budding entrepreneurs and innovators with a chance to win up to $1M out of a total pool of $6M in cash prizes in support of their idea.

“Verizon is committed to supporting innovation at all levels through a variety of initiatives including the Powerful Answers Award, Verizon Ventures’ portfolio and investments, and through the Accelerator program for Powerful Answers Award winners,” said John Doherty, Senior Vice President of Corporate Development and Chairman and Chief Investment Officer of Verizon Ventures.  “We’ve seen previous winners enjoy great success, and look forward to the new ideas and solutions this year’s program generates.”

In addition to winning cash prizes, Powerful Answers Award winners can fast-track their startup through an accelerator program designed by Verizon in collaboration with BootUp Academy. Representing a relatively new model of assistance, accelerator programs combine many features that were typically provided separately by incubators, angel investors, and co-working environments. Given that many startups often kick off with a bang and lose steam a few months down the line, this program gives them a stable and sustainable platform to avoid that fate and help get their Powerful Answer in market faster.

Verizon’s Powerful Answers Award puts the spotlight on social entrepreneurship backed by cutting-edge technology, especially in the fields of transportation, emergency response, and the Internet of Things (IoT).

If you have an innovative idea for facilitating smarter driving, faster search and rescue efforts, or improving connected healthcare data management, then this competition is right up your alley.

Submit your powerful idea here. Submissions close June 18. Watch the video to learn more.

One of the greatest success stories that emerged through last year’s Powerful Answers Award program is a company called Sesame Enable, who won first prize in the Education Category for their ingenious gesture-based software innovation.

The idea for the touch-free smart phone and tablet manifested when its 65-year old co-engineer Giora Livne, who suffers from paralysis from the neck down, approached Oded Ben Dov, CEO and co-founder of Sesame Enable, after watching him demonstrate his gesture technology on TV. They combined forces to deliver a refined touch-free smart phone experience for the over 35 million physically challenged people who can’t use their hands to access devices.

They customized the phone’s sensitivities and settings to work for users suffering from a broad range of physical impediments like spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, ALS, muscle dystrophy, etc.

“In a space like special needs, funding is always a bit more difficult to find,” says Oded. “A lot of people will smile and wish you well, but not a lot of investors will put their money behind it.”

Thanks to the Powerful Answers Award, their company secured critical funds needed to refine the features of their product, expand their team, and get valuable exposure for development in the startup market. After winning the award, their participation in the accelerator program helped them get their solution to market faster. In fact, they recently shipped their first product.

If you have a drive for social welfare and the tech savvy to create efficient new solutions for wide-scale impact, there’s just a few weeks left to get your submission in. After all, a first-class ticket to an overnight success story is an opportunity that most entrepreneurs wouldn’t pass up.

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