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Idea Challenge

Join us at all our 2017 spring events!

Spring 2017 $50K Idea Challenge Information

The UMass Lowell Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship will be hosting the Fifth Annual DifferenceMaker $50K Idea Challenge this spring 2017. The goal of the Idea Challenge is to engage UMass Lowell students in creative and innovative problem solving around major issues that affect our region and our future.

Student teams will be asked to develop real solutions to real problems. They will then be coached and guided to present a concept proposal for a needed service, product or business that addresses a real world challenge such as climate change, access to health care, support for the arts, cyber security, regional unemployment, etc.

$50,000 in prizes will be awarded to UMass Lowell student teams that present the best ideas and strategies for addressing these timely social and business challenges.

If you have innovative ideas for solving these types of problems, or want to work with others to try to figure this out, please consider forming a student team and entering the 2017 Idea Challenge. All student teams will receive guidance and coaching in refining their concept and final presentation.

The DifferenceMaker $50K Idea Challenge awards ceremony will be held at University Crossing, Moloney Hall, Room 260, on April 19, 2017 from 5-8:30 p.m.

 2017 Dates and Events

  • December 1, 2016 -  2017 Idea Challenge Application Opens
  • January 24, 2017 -  2017 Idea Challenge Kick-Off and Idea Hack
  • February 13 - 2017 Idea Challenge Application Closes
  • February 15 - Workshop Series 1: Identifying Problems
  • February 22 - Workshop Series 2: Assessing Opportunities and Value Propositions
  • February 27 - Workshop Series 3: Developing Business Models
  • March 1 - Workshop Series 4: Delivering Your Rocket Pitch
  • March 6 - Idea Plan (due online by 5p.m.) and PPT Presentation Deck (due by 5p.m. via email to DifferenceMaker@uml.edu)
  • March 8 - Networking 101
  • March 21 - Semi-finalists Announced
  • March 22-24 & 27-30 - One-On-One Rocket Pitch Coaching with DifferenceMaker Mentor. Please email DifferenceMaker@uml.edu to schedule a meeting
  • March 31 - Revised Idea Plan (due online by 5p.m.), PPT Presentation Deck and Poster (due by 5p.m. via email to DifferenceMaker@uml.edu
  • April 5 - Preliminary Pitch-Off, 1:30-6 p.m. in O'Leary Library, 1st Floor, South Campus
  • April 19 - 2017 Fifth Annual DifferenceMaker $50K Idea Challenge, 5-8:30 p.m. in University Crossing, Moloney Hall, Room 260

 Eligibility

  • Applicants must be UMass Lowell students (graduate or undergraduate) or have graduated from the University within the past year.
  • UMass Lowell students or recent alumni must take a leadership role in developing, presenting and implementing the concept and proposed solution.
  • Students are encouraged to form interdisciplinary teams, meaning students from different majors should work together in developing and implementing the solution. If you haven’t yet connected with team members from other majors, we will help facilitate this. Please see our TeamMaker platform to help with team formation.

 Challenge Details and Deadlines

Idea Challenge Kick-off and Idea Hack – January 24

  • Come learn more about the DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge and brainstorm your ideas with other students, faculty and staff. This event will explain the Idea Challenge, highlight current student DifferenceMaker projects, and allow you to share your idea with others, as well as meet potential teammates and mentors. RSVP with your name, major, and year in school to DifferenceMaker@uml.edu.
  • Idea Challenge Applications are due by 5 p.m. on February 13, 2017
  • Finalists will be chosen from the pool of applicants and be notified via email

Idea Concept Development – February to March 2017

  • All student teams will be introduced to the Problem-Opportunity-Solution-Resources approach to problem solving. A series of workshops are scheduled to help teams examine their selected problem, explore the opportunity, develop possible solutions and identify needed resources.
  • Idea Plan submissions are due online. Please log in with your student credentials and submit the form online by 5 p.m. on March 6, 2017.
  • PPT Rocket Pitch Presentations and Posters are due by 5 p.m. on March 31, 2017 via email to DifferenceMaker@uml.edu.
  • Revised Idea Plans are also due online by 5 p.m. on March 31, 2017. Please log in with your student credentials and submit the form online
  • Note: These are absolute deadlines. Teams submitting plans past the deadline will not be included in this years challenge.

Idea Challenge Pitch Events

Preliminary Pitch Off

April 5, 2017, 1:30-6 p.m.

Location: O'Leary Library, 1st Floor, South Campus

Each team will present a PPT presentation pitch describing their problem and proposed solution before a panel of alumni judges. Each presentation will be followed by a brief Q&A session with the judges. Then, the finalists for the 2017 $50K Idea Challenge, on April 19 will be selected and announced.

 Deliverables

  • February 13: Idea Challenge application is due online by 5 p.m.
  • March 6: Idea Plan submission due online by 5 p.m. Please log in with your student credentials and fill out the form. Submit the form online.
  • March 31: Revised Idea Plan is due online ( Submit the form online), and the Rocket Pitch PPT Presentation and Poster are due to DifferenceMaker@uml.edu (Please name submitted documents with your project's title). An example of the Rocket Pitch (pdf) is available to review.
  • April 5: Preliminary Pitch Off Event
  • April 19: Fifth Annual DifferenceMaker $50K Idea Challenge

Idea Challenge Finals Pitch Ceremony

April 19, 2017, 5-8:30 p.m.
University Crossing, Moloney Hall, Room 260

  • Selected finalist teams will present a pitch describing their problem and proposed solution before a panel of alumni judges. Each presentation will be followed by a brief Q&A session with the judges. The judges will select the winners of the Idea Challenge event and prizes will be awarded.

 Prizes

A total of $50K in prizes will be awarded.

For more information contact: DifferenceMaker@uml.edu.