Global innovation contest helps students find their inner entrepreneur

Hundreds of students from Penn State and other universities are gearing up to compete in a most unusual global competition: They will have just eight days to create innovative solutions to a mystery challenge using very limited resources, and to convey their results in a short video posted to YouTube. Called the Global Innovation Tournament, the competition is organized by the Stanford Technology Ventures Program (STVP) at Stanford University. Local winners will become semi-finalists in the global round of judging at Stanford.

An official activity of Global Entrepreneurship Week, the competition encourages students to work in teams, challenge assumptions, seize opportunities and be creative. Most of all, it gives them a taste of what it's like to be entrepreneurial: Students must have an impact while working with tight constraints, such as limited time and resources. Great ideas are not enough -- they actually need to implement their ideas and deliver results. Local and then global judges will determine who has had the biggest impact during the eight days.

Students interested in participating in the Global Innovation Tournament can learn more at http://www.unleashingideas.org/tournament online. The submission deadline is Nov. 13.

Past versions of this competition involved giving students a common object, such as Post-It Notes, rubber bands, or water bottles, and challenging them to create as much value as possible from these objects in a few days. Teams invented products, raised and donated money, composed music, entertained, helped the disabled, made political statements, educated children and much more.

Hundreds of institutions in dozens of countries have participated in the competition since its inception in 2007. Penn State is among the more than 100 local organizers conducting the competition this year in their respective areas. The local winners in most locations will be announced during Global Entrepreneurship Week, from Nov. 16 to 22, and global winners will be announced online on Thursday, Dec. 3, on http://www.unleashingideas.org/.

"It is amazing, the value that can be created by the students here at Penn State when given an outlet to unleash their inner entrepreneur," said Robert Macy, clinical assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the Smeal College of Business. "This compact and intensive entrepreneurial activity helps to show students that through their efforts they can innovate, create value and be entrepreneurial."

The competition is only the beginning of thousands of celebrations that will mark Global Entrepreneurship Week, which was co-founded by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation in the United States and Make Your Mark campaign in the United Kingdom. More than 75 countries are preparing a variety of innovative activities and challenges.

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Last Updated November 10, 2009