IGNITE Innovation Challenges

We invest in student innovators and inventors. Register to compete in our innovation challenges, and win cash to invest in your projects, inventions, or cutting-edge ideas. Each year, tens of thousands of dollars are awarded to Iowa State University students ready to move their ideas forward.

Register for challenges by March 1*. Pitch your innovative ideas to judges during IGNITE Showcase Week (April 18-22). Invest in your innovations.

*Most registration deadlines are March 1. See Challenge webpages for timelines and judging criteria.

All Challenge competitors will retain intellectual property rights to their ideas and inventions.

Register Yourself or Your Team to Compete in these IGNITE Innovation Challenges

Student Innovation Fund Challenge

Create an interdisciplinary student team to promote learning and provide an experience of hands-on innovation. A limited number of teams awarding a total of $20,000.

$10,000 Music Challenge

Build a team of at least two people to invent or reimagine an existing instrument. Eight finalist teams will be selected to compose a musical score using their new instrument.

$10,000 Change the World Challenge

Winners will provide a compelling case statement that identifies the nature and impact of social, human-centered problems. Provide a clear solution that includes how the challenge money will fund the project. Funds must be implemented in the year following the award.

$10,000 Food Fusion Challenge

Build a team of three people to cook a dish which blends culinary traditions of two or more cultures. $10,000 of prizes will be awarded at the IGNITE Innovation Showcase in April 2022.

$10,000 John Deere M:2:I Lab of the Future Challenge

Make to Innovate is ten years old, and they’re looking forward to the next 100. What will their lab of the future look like?

$15,000 Kent Corp Feed the World Challenge

Build a team to address global problems and innovation for producing and distributing healthy food, improving food technologies, and securing our food source.

Retail Reinvention Challenge

AESHM 474 teams will develop strategies to help a retail business with real-life challenge.

$5,000 Collins Aerospace Move the World Challenge

How will your invention move people, places, things?

$3,000 Food (In)Security Challenge

High school students will research solutions for local Iowa food security issues.

Sprint Team Projects

Innovation Sprints are 16-week team projects for students to work alongside an industry innovator and a faculty collaborator to propose solutions to specific problems. Sprints are sponsored by industry innovators and students are paid $1000 for their contributions.

Innovation Sprint Projects Seeking Applicants

Apply for these Innovation Sprint Projects

No current sprints seeking applicants. Check back soon for summer sprint projects!

In-progress Innovation Sprint Projects

Go Vote 2.0

Sponsored by Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics and the Department of Political Science, a team of five undergraduate students will create a corp of Voting “Champions” to help get Iowa State students registered to vote and vote in upcoming elections.

Wind Fairing Robotic Solutions

Sponsored by SkyCurrent, students will determine a solution to wind fairing on robotic window washers.

Building Better Fats

Sponsored by Kent Corp, students will develop a better fat for use in meat and plant-based food products.

ChangeMaker Social Innovation

Sponsored by Louis Carr, students will assemble and lead teams of other students to create social change projects.

Hydrogen Powered Aviation

Sponsored by New Vista, students will deliver hydrogen powered aviation options, including assessment rankings, risks, and opportunities.

Cookie-less Autonomous Advertising

Sponsored by Smithsonian Laureate Anthony Sardella, a team of undergraduate students will help create an alternative to HTML cookie data to ethical methods of advertising.

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Innovation in Action