Student inventors compete in sixth-annual challenge

By Staff

Eleven groups of student business leaders and inventors will compete Thursday for $10,000 in cash prizes and sponsorship for business plans they have developed during the first stage of the University of Massachusetts’ sixth-annual Innovation Challenge.

Kicking off the event will be an executive summary and an elevator pitch competition, which will take place at 3:30 p.m. in room 1009 of the Campus Center. These proceedings are free and open to the public, according to a Nov. 29 release from the Office of News and Media Information.

The challenge’s aim is to encourage UMass business students and recent graduates to develop innovative ideas, and to promote some healthy competition among students, according to the release. There will be a second, more complete phase of the challenge next spring, where the groups will present full business plans and investor presentations.

Ronnie and Eugene Isenberg Distinguished Professor Michael Malone said in the release that he was pleased with the development and expansion of the challenge.

 “It is terrific to see how this competition has grown since its inception,” he said. “As we enter our sixth year, the judges have awarded over $350,000 to 32 different teams, and have nurtured a number of young innovators who are now leading their own companies.”

The teams are comprised of students and alumni from across disciplines in the business world, who work with faculty advisors. The squads then design a new product and watch it grow from its technological design stage, into a business plan, and ultimately into full-fledged commercialization.

In Thursday’s presentation, team leaders will present a two-minute appeal for their plan, called an “elevator pitch,” and will answer questions from the audience and judges. Each team has also prepared two-to-three page summaries of their plan, which will be used to assist the judges in their decision-making.

The awards handed out are entirely privately-funded, and judges are composed of entrepreneurs, consultants and legal experts who volunteer and also give the teams advice on their plans.

-Collegian News Staff