Inno/Vention: Making the Cut

Over 40 teams applied to take part in the Inno/Vention competition earlier this semester and on April 1, the twelve semi-finalists that were chosen to prototype their ventures pitched at the “Making the Cut” event. Over the last four weeks, the semi-finalists spent their $500 stipends to prototype their validated ideas and showcase them to the judges at the Urban Future Lab, the School of Engineering’s newest incubator space.

For many, hours of work building, testing their prototypes after classes and through many nights, resulted in dramatically different products than they originally envisioned. The goal of such prototyping competitions is to create a space where ideas meet reality. Using the resources available from two prototyping workshops, office hours with industry experts, and aid from SquareSpace, the Zahn Center, and Microsoft Bizspark program, the teams were able to bring their ideas to 'life' with a prototype for Making the Cut.

Teams were given just three minutes to pitch their ideas and six minutes to showcase their prototypes, one team in particular, PeekBite, even served up dessert to judges based on orders they had made via the team's beta web app. During the presentations at Making the Cut, it was clear that the competition this year is fierce and included such inventions as a neck band to give a sense of direction to bikers through differentiating vibrations, a dissolving strip that can alter your taste buds to help cancer patients, or people trying to diet, and many more.

Many of the contestants in the competition came in having very little background knowledge on how to go beyond just an idea but it was clear that these students had learned a great deal throughout the competition. Competitor Jay Suong of Games 2 Educate created a PC game that shifts as you answer questions so that students learn more and have fun while doing so. Although Jay’s team did not make it on, he said, “It is a really great experience. The resources and mentors are amazing, and we were really motivated. We intend to continue pursuing our idea."

After two hours of listening to pitches, judges deliberated for 30 minutes before choosing the top three hardware and top three software teams that will be moving on as finalists. The six teams who will be moving forward are:

Hardware: SensD, C-Cubed Robotics, and Skinesiology

Software: Peekbite, Urlinq, and Realeyes

The next and final stage of the competition, DemoDay, will be taking place on April 16 at Spotify headquarters. The six teams who made it through to this stage will be putting their gears in full motion to come out ahead and prove to the judges that they are the best choice for the prize. If you are interested in watching the final stage, please RSVP at Space is limited and tickets are going fast.

To learn more about Inno/Vention, click here.