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Muhlenberg students combine dedication, savvy and ingenuity in annual Innovation Challenge

The competition encourages creative thinkers to develop an innovative idea that satisfies a particular market, social or environmental need while competing for cash prizes.

By: Marisa Rubin '17   Wednesday, April 13, 2016 00:50 PM

The event is open to the public and will be held on Thursday April 14 in Muhlenberg College’s Event Space and Light Lounge from 6:00-9:00 p.m.

The Innovation Challenge is open to the entire student body through all majors and class years and is designed to appeal to students beyond business-related majors. This year’s participants hail from a diverse field of Muhlenberg’s academic departments, forming teams that will pitch their ideas to a panel of alumni, local business leaders and investors for a chance to start turning their idea into an innovative company of tomorrow.

During the semester students participated in workshops and worked with assigned mentors to create and refine their entrepreneurial idea. Participating teams submitted a business proposal, and the top candidates were assigned mentors and the opportunity to pitch for $1,000. All participants remain eligible to present their ideas for the audience choice awards in the "Idea Zone."

In the weeks leading up to the event, students worked to validate their ideas with potential customers, and some have even begun launching their businesses.

The challenge’s framework gives them motivation to bring together a business plan and a chance at winning cash prizes that they can use to help get their idea off the ground. Among this year’s teams are students working to appeal to market needs through apps, coloring books, online databases and more.

Rita Chesterton, director of the innovation & entrepreneurship program at Muhlenberg College, is organizing this year’s challenge.

“The Innovation Challenge requires students to draw from what they have learned from across the disciplines and to develop their own innovative business idea and six-minute pitch,” says Chesterton. “It’s hard enough to come up with an idea, but to be able to present your full idea in just six minutes that explains the value of your business proposition – that’s an even bigger challenge.”

Founded in 1848, Muhlenberg is a highly selective, private, four-year residential college located in Allentown, Pa., approximately 90 miles west of New York City. With an undergraduate enrollment of approximately 2200 students, Muhlenberg College is dedicated to shaping creative, compassionate, collaborative leaders through rigorous academic programs in the arts, sciences, business, education and public health. A member of the Centennial Conference, Muhlenberg competes in 22 varsity sports. Muhlenberg is affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.