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Entrepreneurship on full display at IEI’s Innovative Idea Competition

November 17th, 2014

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Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute Managing Director Rob McNamee (far left) and Executive Director Ellen Weber (far right), with the Innovative Idea Competition finalists Bethany Edwards, Cecilia Scimia, Yasmine Mustafa, Bradley Blosser and Sean Webster.
Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute Managing Director Rob McNamee (far left) and Executive Director Ellen Weber (far right), with the Innovative Idea Competition finalists Bethany Edwards, Cecilia Scimia, Yasmine Mustafa, Bradley Blosser and Sean Webster.

If participation in a recent Innovation & Entrepreneurship Institute (IEI) competition is any indication, entrepreneurship is alive and well at Temple University.

Final presentations for IEI’s Innovative Idea Competition, held Nov. 12 at Alter Hall at the Fox School of Business, featured representatives from seven of Temple University’s 17 schools and colleges: Fox, the School of Medicine, the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Engineering, Tyler School of Art, Boyer College of Music and Dance, and the School of Media and Communication.

The competition awarded $7,000 in prizes to students, alumni, faculty and staff for ideas on innovative products, services and technologies, said Ellen Weber, the institute’s Executive Director. IEI saw a 36-percent increase in total submissions from last year’s event to this year’s, in receiving a competition-record 253 submissions, including 230 from undergraduates.

Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat speaks with Istvan Varkonyi, Director of Temple University's General Education Program, Office of the Senior Vice Provost, at the 2014 Innovative Idea Competition.
Fox School of Business Dean M. Moshe Porat speaks with Istvan Varkonyi, Director of Temple University’s General Education Program, Office of the Senior Vice Provost, at the 2014 Innovative Idea Competition.

“As you can see, through this annual competition, entrepreneurship has become a pillar of the student experience, not only at the Fox School, but among all students at Temple University,” said Fox School Dean M. Moshe Porat. “After all, this university was founded by Russell Conwell – an entrepreneur himself.”

Bethany Edwards, SMC ’06, received the Anne Nelson Grand Prize of $2,500, with her Lia-Pregnancy Test Redesign. Weber lauded the privacy and convenience aspects of Edwards’ design of a flushable pregnancy test, which was free of electronic or plastic materials.

“The plot to so many great movies would be ruined if you didn’t see the evidence in the trash can,” Weber said.

Similar to the TV show “Shark Tank,” three guest entrepreneurs (dubbed IEI’s “piranhas”) judged the final presentations: Glen Gaddy, of Robin Hood Ventures; Holly Flanagan, of Gabriel Investments; and Mike Krupit, of Trajectify and Philly New Technology Meetup.

A member of Fox School’s undergraduate population and a Fox alumna were among the winners.

Sophomore Bradley Blosser took first place in the undergraduate competition, with his idea for a snow-dissolving light post. A Finance and Accounting major, Blosser said the device, which is not in production, will be capable of melting snow from above using an infrared light. Believed to be ideal for clearing street corners and parking lots, the device can be affixed to a lightpost at varying heights, Blosser said, and will not interfere with the air space, instead warming only the ground.

Yasmine Mustafa, who graduated in 2006, took first place in the graduate faculty, staff or alumni category. Mustafa is the founder of self-defense technology company Roar for Good, which produces wearables marketed for women. The technology is capable of dialing 911 or sending text messages in cases of emergency, and even sounding an alarm or causing lights to flash.

Mustafa, who in 2010 won Temple’s Be Your Own Boss Bowl®, has vowed to commit a portion of the proceeds from her wearable technology to programs and charity that promote respect for women.

“She’s trying to make sure the product she’s developing will lead to the problem’s solution,” Weber said.

An attendee of the Innovative Idea Competition uses Yorn.com to cast a vote for the People’s Choice Awards. For the first time in the competition’s 17-year history, attendees were offered an opportunity to provide feedback on presentations using real-time voting technology.
An attendee of the Innovative Idea Competition uses Yorn.com to cast a vote for the People’s Choice Awards. For the first time in the competition’s 17-year history, attendees were offered an opportunity to provide feedback on presentations using real-time voting technology.

Mustafa, one of six women to qualify for the competition’s 10-person final presentations, also earned first place in the People’s Choice Award category.

For the first time in the event’s history, attendees used Yorn.com, a real-time feedback platform, to determine winners of two People’s Choice Awards. More than more than 400 comments had been submitted, according to Tyra Ford, the Director of Strategic Marketing Initiatives in Fox’s Department of Strategic Management, offering additional input and wisdom on the various presentations.

“We’ve gotten such a great response from this element of the competition,” Ford said. “It’s something we hope to continue in the years ahead.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

  • Anne Nelson Grand Prize: Edwards
  • First Place (Graduate faculty, Staff or Alumni): Mustafa
  • Second Place (Graduate faculty, Staff or Alumni): Cecilia Scimia, School of Medicine, Heart Upbeat!
  • First Place (Undergraduate): Blosser
  • Second Place (Undergraduate): Sean Webster, College of Engineering, Bouyant Pile
  • First Place (People’s Choice): Mustafa
  • Second Place (People’s Choice): Edwards

In other IEI news, submissions are being accepted for the 2015 Be Your Own Boss Bowl®. The BYOBB is a business-plan competition open to the entire Temple community, which includes current students, alumni, faculty and staff. Information sessions are slated for Dec. 3 (at 12 noon) and Dec. 4 (at 5 p.m.) at the IEI Lab, in 503D Alter Hall. The due date for submissions is March 16, and finalists will deliver presentations April 16.

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