Participating in innovation competitions cultivates creativity, fosters collaboration, and offers a platform to turn visionary concepts into tangible realities, all while gaining valuable experience in problem-solving and project development.

Innovation to me, is doing something different. It’s looking at a problem and solving it with a different set of tools. That’s why it’s an interdisciplinary sport. You need programs like these to use different muscles.

David Slump, Chief Executive Officer Marelli, ’91 Iowa State Alum

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Innovation Challenge Competition

Our Innovation Challenge competition includes the Student Innovation Fund Challenge with generous support from David and Christine Slump and the Energy Storage Solution Fund Challenge with generous support from Charles Saleh. These funds offer up to $15,000 in early-stage seed funding for teams during the following academic year and support progress from ideation to design and further development of a potential solution referred to as a “minimum viable prototype” (MVP/MVX) for a product, service, or program. Multiple teams may be chosen by the judging panel and awarded a share of available funding for their projects.

Selected teams must include at least one non-graduating member for project continuity, with the team lead responsible for replacing graduating members. Graduate research work isn’t eligible, and existing start-ups won’t be considered. Awardees gain year-round access to Student Innovation Center resources and connections with industry and university advisors, fostering both ideation and project development.

Application Deadline: April 7th, 2024

The Innovation Challenge promotes early-stage innovation as opposed to a business start-up and commercialization. Ideally, funded projects will result in a “minimum viable prototype” (MVP/MVX) for a product, service, or program. Award winners will go on to demonstrate the feasibility of solutions and have a full year to test and validate their potential solutions.

As you prepare your submission, make sure to clearly cover these five key areas: problem, solution, social impact, development plan, and team. Our judges will assess these criteria to select finalist presentation teams and competition winners.

After selection, winning teams will need to consider and propose a budget for requested allowable expenditures. A project management plan will also be required to allow for further development with funding allocation. Awarded teams will meet the funding leads at least 3 times a year for project review and advice. Teams should meet continuously as an entire group and with their ISU mentors to continue progress according to their project management plan. Winning teams will present their year-long progress at the following IGNITE showcase.

The competition is open to teams of all full or part-time undergraduate students who are registered for the current academic year at Iowa State University. All selected teams must have at least one non-graduating team member that will continue the project and recruit new team members.

Teams must consist of at least two student members and can include up to five members. The most competitive teams will be interdisciplinary and include team members who come from different major programs and contribute diverse expertise and personal strengths.

All teams will submit their registration form to be eligible for the competition. This submission will serve as the first round in our challenge competition and will be reviewed by experts and faculty.

Finalists will be chosen based on the  Evaluation Criteria (see below).

Round 1
Idea Jam Workshop: Wednesday, January 31, 3-6pm
Art of the Pitch Workshop: Thursday, February 8, 3-6pm
Round 2
Idea Development Workshop: Thursday, March 7, 3-6pm and Wednesday, March 20, 3-6pm
Innovation Fund Challenge Application Feedback Workshop: Thursday, March 28, 3-6pm
Innovation Fund Challenge Submissions Due: Sunday, April 7
Innovation Fund Challenge Finalists Announced: Monday, April 15
Round 3
Innovation Fund Challenge Presentation Workshop: Wednesday, April 17, 3-6pm
Final Presentations: April 30, 2024

Register for Innovation Challenge Workshops here.

Fill out the following Submission form for the first round of judging. Applications will close April 7, 2024.

We are sorry. The deadline to submit registration for the Innovation Ideas Challenge was Sunday, April 7. If you feel you have reached this message in error please contact

David Slump’s Insights on the Innovation Fund Challenge

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