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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Innovation Challenge

In 2011, Natalia Padilla and Jennifer Jennings (seniors and looking for jobs starting in May…*hint hint) and their other team members (from other disciplines) won the Innovation Challenge. This long overdue post praises their hard work and ability to work in an interdisciplinary team where they practiced design at the very beginning of the conceptualization process (and not solely at the end to make the idea look pretty). Natalia and Jennifer and their other team members competed against undergraduate and graduate students from design and other disciplines.

(Natalia celebrating…)

ABOUT THE CHALLENGE: On September 29th, the College of Arts & Science at UNT partnered with Alcatel-Lucent to start the Innovative Challenge. The challenge allowed UNT graduate and undergraduate students from across the university to team up and create plans for innovative mobile apps. With the help of business and technology experts, teams had two months to research and refine their ideas. Teams were also allowed access to Dallas Startup Weekend activities at the Alcatel-Lucent Gravity Centre, giving them the opportunity to network with innovative start-up teams. On Saturday, November 19th, the six remaining teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges.

ABOUT THE JUDGES: The judges were made up of successful entrepreneurs from the DFW area. Eric Engineer who studied business at Harvard University is currently working in investment of computer software, internet, digital media and telecommunication. Gabriella Draney graduated Magana Cum Laude from the University of North Texas and is cofounder and managing partner of Tech Wildcatters, aircraft scheduling software. Darlene M. Ryan is the founder and CEO of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company and was elected leading women Entrepreneur of the World in 2004. David Sanders, CEO at Hildebrando, founded the Dallas Advisory Partners llc. And last but not least, John Reas who, in 2004, joined the emerging technology at Alcatel Lucent.

ABOUT THE APP: The presentations were comprised of marketing research, information about the target audience, expected revenue, and an overall business plan. Natalia Padilla and Jennifer Jennings, along with their other teammates won the challenge for their idea for Handi App. Handi App facilitates people with special mobility needs. The essence of this app is to create routes, locate the closest restrooms, elevators and ramps and would allow the user to rate the facilities.

The judges were so impressed by the 4 students, that encouraged the team to make their concept reality. Positive comments were provided at the end of the presentation: "Not only the concept was strong, but the presentation was excellent. You would not only be making money but you will also be helping people, that’s the right thing to do."

Natalia and Jennifer expressed the type of big thinking that Tim Brown (IDEO) encourages that designers adopt.

Congrats and thanks for making CDES look great!