Innovative Ideas Coming to a University Near You

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The 2018 North Dakota State Innovation Challenge is ready to get started, with pitch night having already come and gone and the boot camp on it’s way out the door.

For those who don’t know, the Innovation Challenge is a competition open to only NDSU students to bring out their most innovative ideas. “Typically, I tell students to think of something that irritates them. When have they thought to themselves, ‘That’s ridiculous, I could do that so much better!’ Then think of how they might be able to do whatever ‘that’ may be and enter it into the competition,” Emily Schubert, a graduate student majoring in mass communications, said.

For the challenge, there are three categories students can design for. The Product category, if they have an item that they’d like to sell, the Service category where they sell a concept to make the world a better place and the Social Impact category, where students are looking to make change, like pitching a non-profit company.

Although the challenge began as innovation week, it evolved through the Research and Technology Park into a semester long competition with three levels of competition: proposal, showcase and finals.

“The Innovation Challenge is important to NDSU because it encourages students to challenge themselves; it demands that they be self-motivated and showcase their strengths,” Schubert said. “It also showcases the opportunities that can happen for NDSU students and therefore can be used as a tool to recruit students.”

It’s important to the NDSU Research and Technology Park because it helps it become more successful though exposure to the NDSU community. Their goals include promoting economic development and to be an innovative hub in the Midwest. The Innovation Challenge gives students an incentive to stay and be apart of that and to engage in their community. This leads to the creation of jobs, interaction with local businesses and constant community involvement.

Some former winning projects include, Cooper Bierscheid, founder of Protosthetics, a company 3-D printing prosthetics; Sustainable Sporting Goods, using flax-fiber and soybean resin to create high performance sporting goods that offer greater safety at a lower cost; Radio Frequency Pacemaker — Sajid Asif streamlined the installation and eliminated wire lead and the need to change batteries on a pacemaker and Single Cell Diagnosis — Fataneh Karandish and James Froberg found a way to detect pancreatic cancer using only a single drop of blood instead of the highly invasive biopsy methods.

Students who have won the innovation challenge have gone on to become CEOs, founders of their own companies and speakers at events pursuing technological advances.

Once the six finalists are chosen, the teams in each track advance to the final presentation where they formally present a 10-minute pitch to a board of three judges. They then open for five minutes of questions. From there, the winners are decided. First place in each track wins $5,000; second, $1,000 and third, $500.

Ideas don’t need to be fully formed, fully researched or ready to go. This is where you have the opportunity to take something you thought of in five minutes or dreamed about since you were 5-years old and get advice on how to make it happen and if you can make it happen.

Dates that should be known to NDSU students are Jan. 23, the last day to register, Jan. 24, the first Boot Camp to help build proposals and Jan. 26, when proposals are due. However, the date to register may be extended to the Jan. 26 if not enough people register by the evening of the 23rd.

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