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Back and Coming on Strong

Innovation Competition

Innovation Competition


Second annual Innovation Competition is bigger and better than ever

by MaryAlice Bitts-Jackson; video by Joe O'Neill


The Innovation Competition at Dickinson (IC@D) is back and coming on strong, with more than double the contestants, bigger prizes and additional resources to help enterprising students turn a great idea into a complete business plan.

“The first round ends on Feb. 29, and we’re excited to see the interesting ideas that each team submits,” said John Leibundgut ’18 (philosophy, economics), an Idea Fund member and one of five students who joined international business & management (IB&M) faculty and staff members on the event leadership team. “This year’s teams have a lot of potential.”

Bigger and better


Developed in 2015 by three students with guidance from IB&M faculty, the IC@D is a three-round competition that provides students with the knowledge and connections they need to move from startup idea to development to polished proposal. Each team must include students with different areas of expertise who will work together to develop a business plan for a startup that’s not just economically sound but also environmentally and/or socially sustainable. The three teams that qualify for the final round will pitch their proposals to a panel of alumni, faculty and staff during the first week of May; the winning team is awarded a cash prize, which can be used as seed money for their business.

Like last year, all of the competitors are encouraged to tap campus resources, including faculty, staff and student expertise, and the teams that make it past the first round will be paired with alumni and parent mentors who are successful entrepreneurs or have experience working with entrepreneurs.

On the infrastructure side, 2016’s competitors benefit from an improved software system that makes registration and submission easier and smooths the way for remote collaborations. That’s a boon for students like Hyla Jacobson ’18 (sociology), a member of the IC@D Elementals team—along with leader Amber Sands ’18 (religion, Italian studies) and Fatema Sachak ’18 (international studies, economics)—who will travel to Italy Feb. 20 to take part in Dickinson’s second Mediterranean Migration Mosaic.

This year’s teams will also reap the rewards of alumni and parent input during round one, thanks to last weekend’s IC@D workshop, which connected the students with 12 alumni and parent entrepreneurs and with staff members from Dickinson’s Office of Institutional Research. Panelists and breakout-session leaders included Kevin McAllister ’98, founder of Access Holding, one of four IC@D judges, and David Yuengling ’84, president of Yuengling's Ice Cream, who brings 30 years’ experience in the computer and information-technology fields to the table.

“The education I received from Dickinson provided me with an excellent foundation,” said Yuengling, “and since I have experience with starting up two companies, I thought this would be a great way to give back to the school.”

Poised to launch

That commitment to student success, combined with efforts to get the word out early and excitement surrounding Dickinson’s new social innovation & entrepreneurship certificate program, has inspired 17 teams to enter the competition this year—up from seven last year.

Competition like this is great news not only for students on career tracks in business, finance and entrepreneurism but also for all students interested in honing their business and financial literacy and gaining practical and collaborative idea-development experience, said Madison Jaronski ’18, a student representative on the IB&M majors’ committee. She notes that just participating in the competition is a great out-of-class learning experience that dovetails well with classroom learning.

It also makes for a thrilling ride, said Krysti Oschal ’17 (environmental studies, economics), an IC@D leadership member and publicity director for the Student Investment Group.

“There’s growing excitement on campus and in the alumni community,” she added. “The competition has taken off more than I ever thought it could in only its second year.”

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Published February 19, 2016