The live finals will still happen — and still air on GPB stations across Georgia. The preliminary and semifinal rounds are on track, too. And in the end, one student invention will win $20,000, a patent filing, and a spot in the CREATE-X Startup Launch program.
The road to the 2021 InVenture Prize will be different, but the pandemic won’t stop the 13th edition of Georgia Tech’s signature invention competition from recognizing the best new ideas from students across campus.
“In the most challenging and turbulent of times, when societal problems become magnified, is often when we see human ingenuity become hyper-focused and some of the most impactful innovations are realized,” said Chris Reaves, executive director in the Office of Undergraduate Education. “We look forward to offering this year’s InVenture Prize as it will provide a platform to showcase our students’ work to the world and celebrate their determination and creativity, even in the most taxing of environments.”
Among the key changes this year: virtual presentations and judging in the preliminary and semifinal rounds, which presented the opportunity to capitalize on Georgia Tech students’ creativity in a new way. The virtual rounds will use two platforms created by Tech students — Gatherly and RocketJudge — for meeting with competitors and for judges to submit their assessments of the teams.
“In a world of constant disruptions and innovation challenges, the InVenture Prize has been able to pivot and embrace these disruptions,” said Nakia Melecio, entrepreneur-in-residence at the Advanced Technology Development Center, “and what’s helped make that possible are the virtual tools Gatherly and RocketJudge, platforms created by some fantastic Georgia Tech students.”
Applications for the 2021 competition are open now on the InVenture Prize website, and the competition will move briskly toward the finals:
- Jan. 18 – Registration Deadline
- Jan. 27 – Preliminary Round
- Feb. 11 – Semifinal Round
- March 17 – 2021 InVenture Prize Finals
Students who compete get help with prototyping, implementing their business, formulating their pitch, and understanding the patenting process. Teams can sign up to be paired with an innovation coach through IdeaBuzz, where they’ll learn about practical steps they can use to develop their idea. Students also can join a preexisting team or recruit members for their team through Cofounder Buzz. Teams also can apply for grants up to $500 to help cover the costs of building prototypes.
“Within our dynamic workforce and economy, innovation and entrepreneurship are skillsets that allow students to create their own opportunities,” said Joy Harris, associate director of the CREATE-X LEARN program. “The InVenture Prize is one of the most influential experiences for students because of how this competition fosters and facilitates these two skillsets.”
Todd Sulchek, an InVenture Prize faculty advisor, said the competition has helped spark a thriving ecosystem of student innovation and invention, and it “remains the preeminent competition at Tech, reaching an audience of tens of thousands, connecting with investors and customers alike, and inspiring future inventors from elementary to high school.”
All told, the InVenture Prize competition awards $35,000 in prize money, including an audience-voted People’s Choice Award. Last year, Queues won first place for an app that gives students live wait times at campus dining spots and helps restaurants plan for the ebbs and flows of demand. During the pandemic, Queues has pivoted to also offer live wait times at Covid-19 testing sites on the Georgia Tech campus. Aerodyme Technology won second place and has gone on to win the TiE University Global Pitch Competition.
“Over the past 12 years, the InVenture Prize has inspired inventors and audiences alike to dream about changing the world with their inventions,” said InVenture Prize co-founder Craig Forest, who leads the CREATE-X MAKE program. “We are more committed than ever to host this competition in 2021, not in spite of, but because of the global challenges that society faces.”