How to Implement an Apps Challenge

Recruiting the right judges, writing clear rules, and ensuring the public can find your apps challenge online will help ensure success.

Recruit the judges

  • Reach out to those who have expertise in your topic or are influential in the area. Well-known judges will help you draw attention to your challenge, and the judges are likely to announce their participation through their networks.

Judges for the HHS myHealthyPeople Application Developer Challenge included top officials at HHS, CDC, and NIH, and executives from influential health foundations and organizations. Apps for Healthy Kids judges included Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and Zynga founder Mark Pincus. NYC BigApps judges include Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai, and prominent Venture Capitalist Fred Wilson, among others.

Write the rules

  • Submissions must be original work. If applicants borrow someone else’s work without permission, this can expose your agency to liability.Include language in the rules that requires applicants to certify that their submission is original, and if they borrow someone else’s work, they must have permission to do so.Entries not following this rule will be disqualified.
  • Get permission to use the submissions for your own promotional purposes. You may want to show off the apps for up to a year after the challenge to promote the contest or your program. These promotional activities help the developer, too.
  • Intellectual Property ownership and pricing. If you allow the winners to keep ownership of their Intellectual Property, you can still showcase the apps without requiring too much from the developers.
  • Use of your agency’s branding materials by applicants. Participants should not be allowed to use your agency’s images and logos, unless they were chosen as the winner. (Use of your agency’s materials creates an appearance of endorsement). Provide clear guidance about how vendors should indicate that they’ve been entrants in your challenge (as a submitted entry, while waiting for a decision, as a winner, or as a non-winning entry).
  • Require links with submissions. All submissions should have a link to the app, video, text description, and photo of the working app in their submissions to
  • New or existing apps in your challenge? If you allow previously marketed apps in your challenge, you broaden the pool of entries. But you may also have entrants entering existing apps into competitions at random without reading or understanding the actual objectives of the contest. You may also want to limit entries to those that have not previously been recognized in a contest of yours.

Examples of Rules for Apps Contests

Lessons Learned

Apps Challenges in the News