Entrepreneurial challenges to bring ideas to life during Penn State Startup Week

Jordan Ford
March 13, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From March 26-30 across the University Park campus, entrepreneurially minded students will have several opportunities to pitch their business ideas and develop innovative solutions to common problems through a series of challenges during Penn State Startup Week.

Throughout the week, four “3-Day IDEA Challenges” will encourage students to connect with students and industry professionals to solve real-world problems and compete for various prizes. Interested undergraduate and graduate students are encouraged to register by Sunday, March 25, on the Startup Week IDEAS Challenge website.

The four 3-Day IDEA Challenges include:

  • Data and Engineering IDEAS Challenge – Sponsored by Cubic Corporation, students will develop a real-world prototype to solve problems in data design and engineering.
  • Go Freelance! IDEAS Challenge – Students will develop a freelance proposal to create Olympic-themed content for NBC through media such as video vignettes, social media strategies and a post-Olympic blog.
  • Heath Pro IDEAS Challenge – Students will explore issues related to health care delivery and individual health promotion in underserved communities.
  • Open Pitch IDEAS Challenge – Students can pitch their original idea for a business or non-profit for a chance to win the $1,000 top team prize.

Each challenge begins with a kickoff meeting and initial workshop on Monday, March 26, from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. in the Business Building’s Smeal MBA Commons Lobby. On Tuesday, March 28, and Wednesday, March 29, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. in 217 Forestry Resources, students can work with mentors to refine their ideas and develop a pitch. Mentors will be from a variety of professional backgrounds and will include representatives from Cubic Corporation, GlaxoSmithKiline (GSK), local startups, and Penn State. On Wednesday, March 29, from 8 to 10 p.m. in the Smeal MBA Commons Lobby, student teams will present their final pitches for cash prizes. Top teams from each challenge will also showcase their work at an invitation-only recognition reception on Thursday, March 30, with Penn State President Eric J. Barron and Startup Week guests.

“We’re excited to offer such a broad array of challenges that engage students with innovative thinking in a number of fields,” said Melissa Long, intellectual property liaison in the Eberly College of Science and the lead organizer of the challenges. “Whether a student is new to entrepreneurship or already running their own business, these challenges provide unique opportunities for students to connect with their peers, network with professionals, and get a jump start on their careers," said Long.

The 3-Day IDEA Challenges are part of Startup Week’s goal to teach, motivate and inspire attendees to make innovation a part of their careers. The challenges are sponsored by the College of Agricultural Science, Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications, Farrell Center For Corporate Innovation and Entrepreneurship in the Smeal College of Business, College of Health and Human Development, College of the Liberal Arts, and Eberly College of Science.

Several other entrepreneurial challenges will either conclude or have teams recognized during Startup Week.

The IdeaMakers Challenge, sponsored by the College of Information Sciences and Technology, tasks students with identifying an important problem that can be solved by digital innovation. Six teams will make their final pitches on Wednesday, March 28, from 4 to 6 p.m. in W201 Westgate Building, with the top two teams earning a prize to be announced at the event.

The Arts Business Idea Competition, sponsored by the College of Arts and Architecture, invites students to pitch an idea for an arts-related business or non-profit organization. Four finalists will present their ideas on Tuesday, March 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. in 16 Borland Building, with the top team earning a $5,000 prize.

The $100,000 Nittany AI Challenge, hosted by the Penn State EdTech Network, will host its initial prototype demonstrations on Tuesday, March 27, from noon to 5 p.m. in 134 HUB-Robeson Center. In the challenge, teams of Penn State students, faculty and staff will compete for the remaining pool of $75,000 by exploring ways in which artificial intelligence and machine learning can improve the Penn State student experience.

The Inc. U Competition, managed by the Pennsylvania Technical Assistance Program, will recognize its top six teams participating in the annual competition. The competition, which aims to fund new student companies at universities, will conclude on April 19 and 20 with students pitching their ideas at Penn State's Venture & IP Conference.

The mHealth Challenge, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, College of Information Sciences and Technology, and College of Nursing, took place in November 2017 and tasked students with developing a mobile application prototype that addressed a health problem for a specific target audience. Students from winning teams will be recognized during Thursday’s reception.

All challenge events are free and open for viewing the public. For detailed information on Penn State Startup Week, including the full week’s schedule, visit StartupWeek.psu.edu. Participants can engage with speakers and ask questions by following @PSUStartupWeek on Twitter and using #PennStateStartup or #BeGreater on social media.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated March 26, 2018