Hosted by the Berthiaume Center for Entrepreneurship, the four-part Innovation Challenge began with The Minute Pitch on Wednesday, Oct. 24. In front of an audience of nearly 200 students, faculty, staff and supporters, 27 teams gave 60-second pitches of their venture idea. Determined by a panel of industry expert judges, $2,500 in prize money was awarded to the first-, second- and third-place teams and the audience choice selection.
Find A Missing Kid, developed by Grace Hall (CICS), Arta Razavi (CICS), and Cameron Harvey (electrical engineering), took home first-place honors and $1,000. This iOS app helps identify missing or exploited children in public settings like schools, routine traffic stops and on public transportation.
Let’s Talk About It, presented by Ashley Olafson (BDIC) and Tom Leary (LARP), earned second place and $750. The duo aim to provide relevant, trusted, and meaningful wellness-related curriculum to schools and individuals, with a focus on mental health, self-esteem, consent, eating disorders, and relationships.
Digital Mapping Consultants, created by Devin Clark (MS, geography, 2017), earned third place ($500) and the Audience Choice Award ($250). The concept involves using the most advanced Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones) to produce crop health maps for the agricultural industry. The map-based data reports guide precision agriculture to increase yields while reducing inputs throughout the growing season.
Next up in the four-part Innovation Challenge series is The Seed Pitch, set for Wednesday, Nov. 28. This competition simulates the closed-door pitch process and $15,000 in prizes will be awarded as determined by the panel of judges. Applications close November 14.
Judges: Dianne Doherty (Pioneer Valley Entrepreneurship leader), Michele Equale (MassMutual), Jeff Glassman (Darn It!), Joe Suyemoto (IBM)
Sponsors: EY, The Heiser Family, Norman “Bud” Robertson, Kumar Ganapathy, Jeff Glassman, Darn It!, and John & Sally Burke