By: Diane Stirling
School of Information Studies (iSchool) doctoral student Keisuke Inoue imagined a different kind of entrepreneurship competition—one that focuses on and rewards students just for the elegance and innovation of their product and system ideas.
Now, that opportunity is being offered through the Raymond Von Dran IDEA (Innovation and Disruptive Entrepreneurship Accelerator) center, with the inaugural Syracuse University Student App Competition taking place this November.
The Student App Competition encourages student teams from across the campus to build and present mobile and/or web applications. Judges, consisting of local IT entrepreneurs, will review and assess competitors based on the innovation, integrity, presentation and impact of their mobile or web application idea.
There is an important differentiator in this event, according to Inoue, in that the focus is on “the product that’s been built. It’s about the system itself, whereas business competitions are about the business plan and the revenue stream. This is an opportunity to present, recognize, and celebrate people who build systems,” he said.
An instructor of an iSchool course on social web technologies, Inoue added, “We’re looking for people who have made amazing things, who are really good at building apps, but they’ve been hiding because there just has been any place for developers or hackers to show off their work.”
Inoue is himself an app developer and entrepreneur, having created a mobile app and built the company,“PsyQic,” which lets users share predictions. He and a fellow student Jennifer Hawk also created the mobile/web platform Chase My Racer, which won a $5,000 prize in the Emerging Talk entrepreneurship competition last spring.
The competition also provides another benefit, Inoue said—the opportunity for student innovators to connect with entrepreneurs and others in the field of entrepreneurship. “The challenge tech entrepreneurs face is finding tech talent and connecting them to business talent, and this competition provides a way to showcase tech talent to business people, he noted.
The competition will be organized along four general segments, including web app; mobile app; a “wild card” category; and journalism innovation, Inoue said. Each category is oriented towards different schools of thought and different teaching disciplines at various SU schools, he added.
Prize awards of $500 will be presented to the winner of each category. Categories will be determined based on submitted applications, although suggested segments include: social media, tech device/hardware; health/fitness; campus improvement; sports; social entrepreneurship; gaming; improvements/utilities; consumer products and library innovation.
The competition is being hosted at Entrepalooza, an event sponsored by the Raymond Von Dran IDEA (Innovation and Disruptive Entrepreneurship Accelerator) and Whitman School of Management at SU. IDEA is also providing the structure for the app competition and its more than $5,000 in prize funding.
Judges are hoping students will showcase the skills and knowledge that they have gained from their courses to use and contribute to local communities and global society. Rules require that at least one team member be an SU student.
To that end, a specific competition category has been established in the area of civic news/journalism innovation, for apps or mobile-optimized sites or services whose primary goal is to provide important civic information to targeted geographic or topical communities. Entries in this category are required to incorporate standard journalistic principles of truth, accuracy, fairness and ethics and seek primarily to inform rather than persuade. Judges will give preference to applications that make use of features that are unique to mobile devices, such as geolocation and user contribution.
The competition schedule includes these key dates:
Friday, Nov. 9: Applications are due
Monday, Nov. 12 through Friday, Nov. 16: First round competition (team interviews)
Wednesday, Nov. 28: Final round competition (Demo Alley at Entrepalooza)
Application forms are available at: http://idea.syr.edu/apply-now/.