Innovation Ideas Incubator

Make a difference

Innovation Ideas Incubator

Reimagine our World…

Got ideas, insights, or new perspectives? Share them!

The Innovation Ideas Incubator is an open participation call for all students around campus interested in questioning, investigating, and creating new ideas for our future. This year, the Student Innovation Center aims to focus on work around social innovation, social justice, care, environmental crisis, community engagement, public good, social changes, and wellbeing.

All Majors.

All Students.



Mentoring Sessions at the Student Innovation Center Room 2260

Thursdays at 11AM


Final Presentation with Shark Dolphin Tank Judging

PRIZES UP TO $15,000!

Part of Innovation Challenge Fund

Join our SICTR Innovation Incubator

Build a team and find a project advisor


KP Williams

Present your idea at College Pitch Offs

Fill out the Student Innovation Fund Challenge Form

Ready to move your idea incubation into a year-long funded project?

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can participate? 

Any Iowa State student! No matter your major or level of experience, if you are ready to work with others to ideate and solve problems, we would love for you to join in.

How long is the process?  

A typical Ideas Challenge has many phases, from idea to concept, from concept to creation, from creation to delivery – inspired by the phases in the design thinking process. The first set of phases is typically a 4-6 week long, but we will help you and your team to go through the whole process in a semester long journey if you want.

When does this all take place? 

The first phase typically starts 2-3 weeks into the semester and should be a weekly commitment throughout the semester.

Does my idea need to be a product?

It does not. Social innovation is encouraged. Meeting societal needs via better solutions, production processes, new principles, legislation, policies, events, experiences or a social movement should be explored.

What do I need to be successful?

Creative thinking, being open to feedback, commitment, and action planning. Generosity to share your idea with the world!

Who will see my idea?

Staff and faculty working for the Student Innovation Center, and external judges brought in from various areas of expertise from across campus, industry and our innovation community. Different partners will see your idea in the separate phases. However, we do want to prepare you for the final dolphin-tank.

Do I need to have an idea already to start the challenge? 

No existing idea is required. Teams with an existing idea or project may be looking for others to join their team to support their work.

Will I be able to make or build my idea at the Student Innovation Center?

Yes. You will need to complete the required safety training, but project consultation and completion are doable within the Makerspaces. And if your team’s project wins the funding at the end, we will support the project development for another year.

Where do I start?  

It all starts with thinking. Have you been thinking about an issue you would like to tackle? Something that bugs you in the world? An insight you have that need support and to be shared? Bring your thoughts to the Student Innovation Center in room 2260. Teams gather every Thursday at 11am for creative recess.

How can I join an existing team?  

Teams will meet every Thursday at 11am in the Student Innovation Center. Contact information can also be shared electronically so teams can meet at other times.

Can I submit my class project?

You can. It is great seeing classwork enter the “real world.”

What is a top idea? 

Top ideas are ideas that best answer the question at the heart of the issue and that have the most potential for impact in the world. No idea is out, and we hope that by week 4 or week 5 some Big Ideas start forming. Once we and you get to the point that an initial Idea has value to grow bigger, we start the process of Top ideas, which will be selected to the final presentation and may be awarded funding at the end of the Challenge.

Do I need an interdisciplinary team?

That is ideal. Diverse perspectives and strengths lead to better thinking and better end products. We recommend a vertical team and as much as possible a diverse set of collaborators.

Who can support me through this process?

Staff and faculty connected to the Student Innovation Center can support and/or direct you to campus experts for further support. In our Ideas Incubation Team, there are 5 faculty members with expertise in creative thinking, design thinking, innovation, problem-solving, leadership and entrepreneurship, who will be supporting you and/or your team in several domains. Our team will also have student peer mentors who will help you manage your project as they have gone through it in previous years.

What happens if I win?

Funding will be awarded to the top ideas so project continuation and execution will be expected.

What are the challenge phases and how can I participate in each phase?  

Check the Brief on the Challenge you are interested in to see which phases are included.