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February 24, 2019 | Tom Ballard

Chattanooga plans “FreightTech Innovation Challenge” March 29 and 30

Two innovative Chattanooga enterprises announced late last week that they are teaming-up to co-host the inaugural “FreightTech Innovation Challenge: A 24-Hour Transportation and Logistics Use Case Competition.”

The collaborative effort between FreightWaves, the top prize winner when Steve Case brought his “Rise of the Rest Road Tour” to Chattanooga last May, and CO.LAB have scheduled the event for March 29-30. College students from across the U.S. will spend two days working to solve challenges facing the transportation and logistics industries with the chance to win cash prizes and find potential employers. The team that places first in the competition will receive $5,000, followed by $3,000 for second place and $1,000 for third place.

“Chattanooga is the beating heart of Freight Alley, so I can’t think of a better place to bring together bright minds from across the country to help solve some of our industry’s most perplexing challenges,” said Craig Fuller, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of FreightWaves. “This is a chance for college students to not only win a prize, but to jump-start an exciting career in the freight tech sector.”

His rapidly growing company will host the students at its new office named “Freight Alley” that officially opens this spring. Representatives from leading companies in the industry, some of whom are sponsors of the event, will be present over the course of the competition to network with students with the hope of finding future talent, as well as to mentor the teams.

According to last week’s announcement, the collaboration between CO.LAB and FreightWaves came as a result of wanting to pair FreightWaves’ expertise and industry network with CO.LAB’s experience in developing fast-paced competitions that focus on building talent pipelines. CO.LAB has produced several 48-hour launches over its history.

“This collaboration with FreightWaves is an incredible opportunity to show the country’s upcoming talent what Chattanooga has to offer,” said Marcus Shaw, CEO of CO.LAB. “By the end of the event, we believe we will see students not only take away a great learning experience but also new relationships that can impact their career trajectory.”

With a supportive ecosystem for businesses, Chattanooga has established itself as the heart of “Freight Alley” with an increasingly growing number of companies in the transportation and logistics industries due to its position as the epicenter of freight traffic in the Southeast. Logistics contributes to more than 40 percent of the local economy, and 1.25 million of the region’s 37 million people are employed by the transportation sector. Of those, 230,000 are heavy-duty truck drivers.

“If you start a company there [in Chattanooga] to serve the trucking industry, you have more expertise about what the needs are, and more customers and partners there in Chattanooga as opposed to New York City, Boston and San Francisco,” Case said in an interview on PBS last fall.

Students interested in business, supply chain, technology, computer science, data and logistics can apply to compete by March 8 at this link. You can also read the recent news release (FreightTech Innovation Challenge Release).

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