Winners Announced of 2018 Southeast Innovation Challenge


The winners of the inaugural Southeast Innovation Challenge were announced at a Common Hour program Nov. 14 hosted in Academic Auditorium by the Douglas C. Greene Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Catapult Creative House.

The winners are:

  • First Place & People’s Choice – Hackapult (Lisa Goette, a graduate student from Aachen, Germany; and Katrien Gillé, an international business graduate student from Kuringen, Belgium)
  • Second Place – Spread Awareness & Create Organization (Jacob Scissors, a sophomore corporate communication major from Chesterfield, Missouri; Quinn Hume, a sophomore social work major from Chesterfield; and Samuel Kehrer, a junior sport management major from Belleville, Illinois)
  • Third Place – Rooftop Community Garden (Goette; Vanessa Pendergrass, a senior interior design major from O’Fallon, Illinois; and Whitney Whiteside, a junior finance major from St. Charles, Missouri)

Hackapult was a proposal whereby Catapult Creative House would host a hackathon open to all students once a month in conjunction with local businesses. Participating businesses would present their problem and teams of students would develop innovative solutions.

Spread Awareness & Create Organization was a new method of color coding and organizing Catapult Creative House using a variety of easy to follow color schemes. This would allow incoming students to understand where to find the wide variety of physical and digital assets Catapult has to offer them and how they can interact with them.

Rooftop Community Garden was a proposal for a rooftop garden space designed and operated by students. The garden would be designed by interior design students with horticulture students developing and maintaining the garden area. It would allow students and community members to grow a variety of vegetables and plants as well as act as a unique riverfront viewing spot.

The Southeast Innovation Challenge was open to both undergraduate and graduate students who formed teams to research and propose an innovative program, initiative or service to improve the student experience in a meaningful way. This year’s students were challenged with providing new and innovative ways to enhance and use Catapult Creative House. A panel of University professionals judged the 16 submissions based on how impactful, innovative and feasible the idea was, along with the diversity of majors on the team. The top three teams presented their ideas and answered questions from the audience at the beginning of the program.

The program’s keynote speaker was Robin Cole, a Southeast Missouri State University alumnus and president of The Rite Group. After working three decades on Wall Street specializing in the taxable bond markets and advising large U.S. financial institutions, he returned to the Midwest fifteen years ago to expand his family’s information technology services business – The Rite Group. As Cole described his experiences throughout his career and on Wall Street, he stressed the importance of innovation and entrepreneurship while sharing experiences and examples of sustainable competitive advantages.

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 next Southeast Innovation Challenge will take place during GEW 2019.