The Innovation Challenge
The world faces many challenges and you are part of the solution. Many of you are waiting until graduation to make a difference and you are likely to rely on someone else’s idea of how to do it. That can change now as you turn your talents to your own new venture ideas. This short overview answers some common questions.
What is it?
The Innovation Challenge is a co-curricular forum for YOUR new venture ideas. This unique opportunity brings together friends and classmates on campus to develop a new venture concept. The goal is to get as many students working on their own ideas as possible and stimulate collaboration on campus.
Isn’t this for business students?
Not at all! Studies show that interdisciplinary collaboration is where solutions originate. This Challenge is for the entire campus, regardless of major, graduation year, or any other limiting factor. Everyone at Muhlenberg is capable of winning this contest and we make it easy.
What are the categories?
Submit your innovative team idea in one of three major areas: open, social impact, or sustainability. You decide which is best for your project.
I’m busy. What is the time frame?
Initial ideas are due February 24th, and then your team’s plan must meet two additional deadlines to continue on. Each surviving plan must develop to be eligible for inclusion in the finals, an event in April 23rd that features expert judging to select this year’s best new venture plans.
Sounds like a lot of work. Is it?
Not at all! Between now and February 24th, cook up your idea and refine it to a 1 page summary. That’s right! One page is the entry fee. After that, using a standard template, you refine and elaborate your idea better and better. But you won’t be alone. You will also have a mentor helping you.
Who are these mentors?
We plan to involve alumni and other experts who willingly sign up to mentor your team and help you develop your idea. These are generous folks who want to see you develop your ideas and who will devote time to helping you.
What sort of team do I need?
You need a team of 2 or more students enrolled at Muhlenberg College. Teams help us generate the most ideas and then select the best ones to work on, giving us the ability to do a lot in a short time. There is no need to keep within graduation year, major, or any other boundary. Diverse teams are better. You are of course free to involve or get feedback from anyone in the world, but the team must be all-Mule.
My ideas aren’t well-developed. Should I participate?
Yes! The Innovation Challenge is meant to help you clarify and refine your great but underdeveloped ideas. You might start with lots of ideas, but the process of describing your new venture and collaborating with others will help you choose the top idea to work on for a few months in your spare time.
How much can I win in prize money?
We plan to have at least $1,000 for each category, based on past fundraising results. This is not enough to really get most ideas off the ground, but it is a start! The real benefit is having the chance to develop and pitch your idea as part of a collaborative, developmental process.
Can this count for course credit?
That is between you and the professor of the course. There are many possible ways your work could deepen your learning in a class, and some team assignments might work very well for the Challenge. Be bold about finding out how any given course might be a course or count for course credit.
Who’s behind all of this?
Muhlenberg College was one of the first liberal arts colleges to offer Entrepreneurial Studies as an area of academic study in the early 1990s. The Innovation Challenge is entering its 5th year, and is administered by Professor Trexler Proffitt and Jordan Labbe ‘16, with the collaboration of many, many others on campus.
Email us at InnovationChallenge@muhlenberg.edu or call Professor Proffitt at 484-664-4078.