Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge Expands Outreach Campuswide

Park It, a mobile parking application for the smartphone, won first place last year in the People's Choice category.

By Amanda Holst, Public Affairs Assistant

The Silicon Valley Center for Entrepreneurship, which has developed a strong reputation within the College of Business for nurturing innovation, is seeking to expand its signature fall event with a new name and campuswide organizing committee.

“I’ve always been passionate about cross-community collaboration, and I believe that for truly successive innovation, you need collaboration across all disciplines,” SVCE Director Anuradha Basu said. “I am hoping we will achieve this with input from all the colleges.”

The Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge was founded in 2004 as the Neat Ideas Fair. Jan English-Lueck, College of Social Sciences associate dean, is a new member of the event’s organizing committee. She expects the challenge to encourage students in her college to think creatively about solving community problems.

“The product that we make as a social scientist may not be a thing, it may be a service,” English-Lueck said. “Any neat ideas we have about how to help people help themselves — this is an opportunity to make those ideas real.”

With this in mind, the organizing committee has set a goal of doubling the number of participants from last year’s 90 teams.

“In the longer term, we would like hundreds of teams to participate,” Basu said. “The more submissions we have, the greater the chance that some of the ideas will be promising enough to be turned into business plans, and eventually, into viable businesses.”

Experience and Neworking

Feedback from the judges was the most valuable aspect of the competition, said senior management information systems major Brian Orlando, a member of the team that won last year’s People Choice award for Park It, a mobile parking application.

“Experience and networking are why I encourage people to do it, “ Orlando said. “It is so hard to get a job in today’s world, but if you know someone, they can find you a job.”

The Silicon Valley Innovation Challenge will be held Dec. 1 in the Student Union’s Barrett Ballroom. Registration is open to all students and alumni. The deadline for entries is Nov. 16.