AMHERST, Mass. - The UMass Innovation Challenge, a launching pad for aspiring student entrepreneurs to cultivate original ideas for the marketplace, is holding its executive summary and elevator pitch competition Wednesday, Dec. 7, at 3:30 p.m. on the 10th floor of the Campus Center at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This is the second of three public events during the academic year-long competition and features 11 teams who will be presenting their new ventures. At stake is $10,000 in prize money. The event is free and open to the public.
During the competition, each team leader will deliver a two-minute "elevator pitch" and answer questions from the judges and audience. After hearing from all teams, the judges will deliberate and announce the awardees.
Innovation Challenge competitors are interdisciplinary student/alumni teams working in consultation with faculty members and external advisors with appropriate expertise. The competition is open to teams that include at least one full-time UMass Amherst undergraduate, graduate student or recent graduate.
One team, for example, will come with "Sneakers for Success." The driving force behind this idea is mechanical engineering undergraduate Sam Del Pilar, who has drawn upon his engineering background and his experiences growing up in Queens, New York, to found an educational organization that uses "sneaker culture" as the basis for a nontraditional curriculum aimed at keeping students in school.
Team RDS Enterprise proposes to manufacture and sell inexpensive, semi-permanent, disaster shelters for people displaced by natural and man-made catastrophes. Team FACTbase, will automate and simplify a labor-intensive identification process looking for certain fossils in sediment as keys to finding oil.
The other teams offer an array of innovations, including:
• Kinvi plans to develop software that will allow body movement and gestures to control electrical devices.
• Cozy Solar Solutions proposes an affordable, heat-producing, solar panel made from recycled products that can be used in most places around the world.
• MiCorner is pitching a well-synced program to manage all personal online content.
• SMASH is based on a new software technique to reduce the energy consumption of battery-powered devices.
• ReNano is selling a product with the ability to update the functionality of consumer electronics after shipping.
• Plate Technologies will produce a tissue culture microplate that provides uniform cell growth and great data accuracy with less reagent waste.
• Sweet Seat is designing an innovative bicycle seat that addresses customer needs at a low price.
• Ski and Ride Cheap.com envisions an online community for skiers throughout New England that will maximize the availability of discounted lift tickets.
"The purpose of the Innovation Challenge is to inspire and reward the best entrepreneurial business plans from UMass Amherst students, recent alumni, and their faculty advisors," says Mike Malone. He is the Ronnie and Eugene Isenberg Distinguished Professor of Engineering and vice chancellor for research and engagement at UMass Amherst. "The emphasis of the contest is on innovation. In stressing innovation, we are encouraging folks from every discipline and department on campus to get involved and use technology for solving society’s overarching problems in new ways."
Judges for the executive summary competition are entrepreneurs, legal experts and consultants who volunteer their time to evaluate contestants during the competition, after meeting with them in the weeks beforehand to give constructive advice on their business plans. Each team will submit a two- or three-page executive summary of their business plan and concept. This document will be reviewed by the judges prior to the competition to help determine each team’s overall score in the competition.
The UMass Innovation Challenge is supported by Eugene M. and Ronnie Isenberg and the following sponsors: Wolf Greenfield; Saint-Gobain; Joseph Bohan; Cantor Colburn LLP; CISCO; Raytheon; Vistagy; Wayne Boulais ‘85, ‘88; Stephen Dunne ‘89; Provenance Venture Partners; Michael Tunstall ’82, and Karen Lauter Utgoff Consulting.