Let’s take a look at the key players who helped make the inaugural Open Minds Sustainable Innovations Challenge such a success and the students who earned the top spots.
And the Winners Are …
The coveted first-place prize went to the team that created “Phood Energy,” a small organic material decomposer that can be used by supermarkets. “I hope to work in the field of social entrepreneurship to find ways to come up with solutions to a problem that will benefit the community and this competition taught me that I will be able to do this in the future,” said freshman Samantha Brodie.
Brodie and her teammates determined that by decomposing the high percentage of food waste that typically goes to a landfill, they could create valuable compost and capture methane for electricity generation.
“I think the team that won provided the greatest level of detail and had begun to really think about how their idea could be implemented,” Zarrilli said. “You could tell they had really put a lot of effort into developing a realistic concept with substantial detail.”
Tied for Second
Freshman nursing majors Aliyah Stephens and Jameel Kemp earned a second-place title with their project, “Soular,” a technology fashion company that integrates solar panels and electrical components into clothing to power cell phones and other mobile devices.
The duo, who made it the championship round of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship’s National Youth Entrepreneurship Challenge in San Francisco last fall, said the experience of participating in the Open Minds Competition helped them to make their prototype even better. “We wanted to be exposed to different views,” Kemp said.
“Being in this competition has inspired so many new ideas. We finished our prototype, we have a new marketing plan, and we established a cash forecast—we got a lot done in those two days.”
Innovation Fellows Kenneth Brewer, Trans Lualhati, and Onesimus Morrison teamed up with freshman Viviana Del Carmen Ullola, a business major, and junior Luis Almonte, an ISBT major, tied for second with “Soci.” This social media platform would allow users wearing a wireless-enabled bracelet to communicate with each other and share contact information and other data. The team created a prototype of the bracelet using a 3-D printer.
The competition’s panel of judges, who chose the winning teams, included seasoned business leaders with an eye for innovation:
- Stephen Zarrilli, ’83, President and CEO of Safeguard Scientifics, Inc.
- Edward Fierko, ’63, President of EJF Associates
- Gregory Bruce, MBA ’81, Dean Emeritus of La Salle’s School of Business
- Jim Johnston, Ph.D., Vice President of BioCoat Inc.