Challenged to Innovate

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The final presentations for the Innovation Challenge were hosted in the Memorial Union April 5.

The event included 20 ideas from North Dakota State students spread over three categories or “tracks”: products, services and social innovations.

Members of participating groups gave 10-minute presentations to a panel of three judges who then asked questions when the members finished.

Emily Shubert ran the event and said the challenge is in its third phase. “In January they submitted their proposals, which are two pages describing their innovation, how it’s going to change the world and then their past implementations, so what steps would they need to take to get this from where they are now to somewhere where someone would want to invest in it,” Shubert said.

Shubert said they “asked that students to kind of come up with a concept that’s going to change someone’s behavior or perception in some way shape or form.”

This change could possibly lead to a business. According to Shubert, some of the groups are even in the process of receiving patents.

After the proposals are submitted, Schubert said the judges sorted the proposed ideas into the different tracks and suggested improvements.

The second phase was the showcase event where groups presented their ideas using poster boards on March 21.

The judges at the competitions are all business leaders in their respective fields.

Lisa Gulland-Nelson, one of the nine judges present, is the senior vice president of Investor Relations at the Greater Fargo Moorhead Development Corporation.

The last phase of the challenge was judged on the innovation and viability of the ideas.

According to Gulland-Nelson, the students have answered the call. “They’ve been very impressive … They have taken our feedback and really try to answer the questions that we posed to them throughout the process.”

It has been really hard to judge the competitors against each other, Gulland-Nelson said.

As for the event itself, Gulland-Nelson said, “The research and tech department does a really nice job at challenging students to really think about what can they do with their idea and how can they make it innovative.”

Gulland-Nelson works in economic development and she said this event “is great for the economy.”

The Innovation Challenge is a “great way to get students to think about, hey, what can I do, how can I take an idea and turn it into a business,” according to Gulland-Nelson.

Nick Broberg and Thomas Konetschka participated in the challenge and presented their idea at the final phase of the competition.

The process to get where they are now consisted of a lot of research, Bromberg said. This competition in specific required them to make a poster and samples to show what their product is.

Broberg and Konetschka participated in the product track. They pitched their idea for a “natural energy gel.”

According to Bromberg, runners use energy gels mid-race to get a boast of carbohydrates.

The problem with other brands of energy gel is that “it tastes terrible and nearly half of people don’t like them.”

The winners of the Innovation Challenge will be announced April 17 at a ceremony at the Fargodome. $21,000 will be awarded to groups in all three tracks. First place will win $5,000; $1,000 will go to second and third place will receive $500.

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