2022 Student Innovation Fund Challenge

2022 Student Innovation Fund Challenge

Awarding early-seed funding to guide students’ innovative ideas

By Mallory Tope, Communications Assistant | Published April 27, 2022

Iowa State University has been fanning the flames of innovation by encouraging, supporting, and motivating innovators from every discipline across its campus. At the Student Innovation Center, a collaborative hub for that innovative spirit, students have seen their ideas turn into actions, solutions, and businesses. 

The Student Innovation Fund is one of the many programs offered through the Center as part of achieving that mission. Founded by alum and Student Innovation Center Innovator-in-Residence David Slump, CEO of Marelli, the Student Innovation Fund is meant to guide students through the beginnings of the innovative process and help them build up their ideas. 

“Students didn’t have a place to incubate an idea, to come up with an idea and test the idea,” Slump said about the inspiration behind the Fund. “There were a lot of places for ideas that were scalable, but there wasn’t a place to really get that first start.”

The Student Innovation Fund challenge annually invests up to $20,000, donated by David and Christine Slump, in interdisciplinary student teams to promote learning and provide an experience of hands-on innovation. Teams apply for the fund and go through a virtual round of judging. Selected teams then go on to a live presentation and judging round help during the Student Innovation Center’s annual IGNITE Innovation Showcase.

Five student teams presented their ideas on April 21 for the 2022 Student Innovation Fund challenge. Three were selected to receive early-stage seed funding and were awarded on the final day of the 2022 IGNITE Innovation Showcase, April 22, including: 

  • Gutter | Team Lead: Elvis Kimara | Team Members: Sam Husted, Johann Guejop, Arvid Gustafson, Thomas McAndrews | Awarded $2,000 
    • Gutter’s mission is to solve the problem of college students throwing away valuable property when moving out after each academic year.
  • CalfTend | Team Lead: Brandon Burt | Team Members: Marissa Eekhoff, Devin Tigges, Tanner Edwards | Awarded $5,000
    • CalfTend is using a cutting-edge piece of nanotechnology to create a solution to the dystocia that is leading the cause of calving mortality. This product will revolutionize the cattle industry, and not only bring profitability and reduced mortality. 
  • Phillip Gorni and Sarah Ng, accepting their 1st place award at the Student Innovation Fund.

    Safety Scan | Team Leads: Phillip Gorni & Sarah Ng | Awarded $10,000

    • Safety Scan is software revolutionizing the workforce. This start-up idea will help protect over 3.5 million construction workers while reducing worker injuries and saving companies money on insurance and worker compensation claims. 

Funded teams will continue their projects and create a prototype to present at next year’s challenge, working with the Student Innovation Fellows Program and accessing resources available at the Student Innovation Center.

I think others should consider bringing their projects forward because it’s a great opportunity to increase your soft skills. It’s really a great learning experience regardless if you win or not,” said Sarah Ng, a sophomore in industrial engineering.

Continued Innovation

This year’s fund was the second to be awarded during the annual IGNITE Innovation Showcase. The inaugural Student Innovation Fund awards were presented during the 2021 showcase event.

The three winning teams of the  2021 Student Innovation Fund Challenge were tasked with creating a prototype of their project to present during the 2022 Ignite Innovation Showcase. Insect-Decide, We Can Honey-Do It and REFORM spent months preparing and perfecting their projects

REFORM successfully demonstrated its dedication to growing its project by expanding the team to be an Iowa State club. They are working across Universities and beginning a REFORM club at the University of Iowa and the University of Northern Iowa. Their team was awarded an additional $3,000 from the 2022 Student Innovation Fund to continue to further their project.