Southeast Innovation Challenge 2016 Winners Announced

southeast-innovation-challenge2The Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Catapult Creative House at Southeast Missouri State University announced the winners of the inaugural Southeast Innovation Challenge during a Common Hour program Nov. 16.

The program was held as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW), one week each November where thousands of entrepreneurial events and competitions take place in 160 countries.

The winners are as follows:

First place and People’s Choice Award:

International Buddy Program -Verena Brüeck of Bergisch Gladbach, Germany; Katrien Gillé of Hasselt, Belgium; and Caroline Hermsdorff of Stolberg, Germany

Second place:

Redhawk Rewards – Gabby Bernier of St. Louis, Missouri; Drew Slade of Fenton, Missouri; and Alex Grigsby of O’Fallon, Missouri

Third place:

Project Omega – Stephen Schott of Chaffee, Missouri; and Benjamin Bohnert of Cape Girardeau

The International Buddy Program was a proposal whereby international students would be paired with domestic students to help integrate international students as well as broaden the horizons of U.S. students. Redhawk Rewards was a method of rewarding student organizations based on their participation at campus events. Project Omega was a plan to offer scooter rentals and bike sharing on campus to address parking issues.

The Southeast Innovation Challenge was open to both undergraduate and graduate students to form multi-disciplinary teams of two to three people to research and propose an innovative program, initiative or service to improve the student experience in a meaningful way.

A panel of University and community professionals judged the 26 submissions based on how impactful, innovative and feasible the idea was, as well as the diversity of majors on each team. The top three teams presented their ideas and answered questions from the audience at the beginning of the program.

“This was an inaugural event for the Southeast Innovation Challenge,” said Dr. Judy Wiles, director of the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship. “We are thrilled to have such a strong response from our students and are proud of the diversity of ideas which were presented in this competition.”

The program’s keynote speaker was Gary Kellmann, a Southeast alumnus and managing partner in KDK Technology Ltd. The 20-year veteran of the manufacturing and wholesale distribution of consumer products shared his entrepreneurial journey which started his freshman year at Southeast.

“I had no idea what I was doing, but I was brave enough to take the next step,” said Kellmann about his first invention finding a solution to turn off his alarm clock without falling out of his bunk bed.

As Kellmann described his successes and self-admitted “fail forwards,” he emphasized the importance for students to develop what makes them and their resume unique. He challenged those that participated in the Southeast Innovation Challenge to follow through and execute their ideas.

In addition, Kellmann recognized the team of Aaron Vasquez of Jacksonville, Illinois; and Connor Mobley of Divernon, Illinois, for their highly innovative idea even though feasibility aspects needed to be further addressed.

“Their idea of putting a slide down cardiac hill has the potential to really stick and bring attention to the institution,” said Kellmann, referencing the book “Made to Stick” by Chip and Dan Heath.

The next Southeast Innovation Challenge will take place during Global Entrepreneurship Week 2017.