Virtual competition; real innovation

The 2021 edition of InnoVention

InnoVention logo with student competitors in the background

Although the 2021 InnoVention Competition is fully remote this year, the event is just as hotly contested as ever, and excitement levels are just as high — especially with more than a dozen teams from New York City alone and others signing on from Abu Dhabi (which fielded teams for the first time last year) and Shanghai (participating for the very first time in 2021).

“With the participation of teams from NYU Shanghai in addition to NYU Abu Dhabi, InnoVention has become a truly global competition,” Kurt Becker, Tandon’s Vice Dean for Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, says. “It has been gratifying to watch the evolution of the competition from a small, local contest to a major event supporting NYU's commitment to student creativity and entrepreneurship.”

InnoVention, a high-energy mix of accelerator and competition, kicked off on February 8, and in the lead-up to the regional semi-finals on March 17, as they refine their ideas, team members will complete virtual workshops on such vital entrepreneurial topics as customer discovery, prototyping, UI and UX design, pitching, and market strategies.

It’s a lot of work, but worth it, for a chance to vie for a portion of the more-than-$50,000 prize pool (with the global winner potentially claiming up to $30,500) — and the possibility of developing a commercially viable technology solution to a pressing real-world problem.

Organized by the NYU InnoVention Society (a student club revolving around entrepreneurship and startups) and supported by the Institute for Invention, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (IIIE), InnoVention has helped launched several now-successful ventures, including, Acculis, a 2016 finalist company that now helps construction teams prevent rework costs by enabling everyone from project managers to laborers on the project to access detailed 3D designs; Statespace, 2017’s top winner,  a company creating AI-powered training tools to boost human performance; and Sunthetics, the 2018 first-place finisher, now making great strides in cleaning up the chemical manufacturing industry.

Every team participating in 2021 hopes to make a similar impact — and to triumph as the competition culminates on April 28 with a global final that will involve the winners of the NYC, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi regionals squaring off against one another.

Ann Huang, the current president of the InnoVention Society, has helped organize the competition for three years and predicts that stellar prototypes will emerge from this year’s event. “With the brightest and most inventive students from NYU’s global sites taking part and a large percentage of graduate students among the team members, we can probably expect to see some very high-level projects being tackled,” she says.

Steve Kuyan, Tandon’s Director of Entrepreneurship and Managing Director of the Future Labs, concurs. “The teams have already brainstormed solutions to issues in a variety of fields, including healthcare, sustainability, and education,” he says. “Whatever the ultimate outcome at the regional and global finals, I’m confident that we’re going to see some potentially world-changing prototypes.”

Meet the NYC-based teams

* Teams including NYU Tandon students

  • beet & pear — creators of a digital marketplace that will provide consumers with seamless access to local food and small farmers with an innovative, reliable d2c sales channel
  • CAR-T Chips* — By combining recent advances in microfluidic organ-on-a-chip technology and CAR-T cell immunotherapy, the venture offers innovative screening platforms for oncologists to select potential responders and the best personalized therapeutics for acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients
  • Connect.ED* — an app that aims to streamline patient capacity information between ER workers and hospital administration
  • E-Cube* — an energy-efficient device for keeping beverages warm
  • Hubbub*  — a platform that allows students and early-career professionals to rent needed household items for anywhere from a few days to a full year and receive delivery right to their door
  • Jade* — a platform that provides information on the environmental and ethical impacts of various clothing brands to empower sustainability-conscious consumers to make informed clothing purchases and drive sales to eco-friendly clothing brands
  • Jengu — a compact system of smart postnatal home fitness equipment essentials designed to motivate new moms to reconnect with their bodies and regain their strength
  • Letryx — a legal software company developing a machine learning platform for energy lawyers
  • Neurobotica*  — developers of a a teleoperation robotic system that enables remote healthcare
  • Omega Robotics* — a venture aimed at improving the rehabilitation of Lymphedema Disease through affordable and comfortable wearable technology
  • The Thinking Circle — a freelance marketplace and project management tool that fulfills businesses' digital marketing needs with creative talent from an exclusive network
  • Theatre Advocacy Project — a platform that solves the problem of unsafe, inequitable, and costly working conditions for theatre artists and administrators by acting as an external benefits system
  • trim — an app aimed at helping streamers grow faster and scale up by cutting down the time it takes to share engaging moments of their livestream content to other media platforms