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La Salle News

La Salle University’s Third Annual OPEN MINDS Innovation Challenge Promotes Interdisciplinary Collaboration and Sustainable Solutions

January 24, 2017

OPEN MINDS 2La Salle University’s third annual OPEN MINDS Innovation Challenge, a marathon-style competition that promotes interdisciplinary collaboration and sustainable solutions in the service of a greater good, takes place January 27-29, 2017 on campus at Holroyd Hall. OPEN MINDS is conceived and produced by La Salle’s Center for Entrepreneurship and the La Salle chapter of Enactus, a national organization that empowers students to improve the world through entrepreneurship. This year’s challenge invites La Salle students across all majors to tackle the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. Over 80 students form teams to collaborate on creative solutions for issues such as poverty, affordable and clean energy, and hunger, then present the business viability and cost-benefit of their approach.

“OPEN MINDS is another piece of our effort to facilitate a culture of innovation at La Salle where we give students the opportunity to express their creativity while learning the steps to take these and future ideas to market,” said Steven Melick, director of La Salle’s Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship. “Innovation is a driving force in today’s and tomorrow’s economy, and the students who embrace those challenges and have the tools to organize their solutions will flourish in whatever career path they choose across all industries and sectors.”

The judges for the 2017 OPEN MINDS challenge are Pottstown Memorial Medical Center orthopedic surgeon and serial entrepreneur Elliot Menkowitz, M.D., ‘67, Wistar Vice President of Business Development Heather Steinman, and Assistant Superintendent for Secondary Education of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Schools Patricia Rigby, Ed.D.

OPEN MINDS is in contrast to traditional business plan competitions, as it does not reward students on their ability to compose a detailed business plan, but rather focus on challenging students to find their outer limits of creativity and problem solving skills toward building a business model to capture those concepts and the respective financial and market implications behind their solution. Students are judged on breaking down ideas into key business model assumptions; critically evaluating their solution and testing assumptions with available resources; applying initial Lean Launchpad practices to nail the pain and solution; learning to pivot (change) until arriving at a customer-validated business model.

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