InVenture offers inventors cash prizes, free patents

Industrious Tech students can officially state their intent to enter the InVenture Prize @ Georgia Tech. The InVenture Prize is a competition for Tech students to present their inventions to a faculty panel of judges to be rated on factors such as innovation of concept, marketability of invention, market size, inventor’s passion and the potential for the invention to start an actual business. Students can work independently or in teams, but the invention must be a totally student-driven effort, without significant faculty or professional aid.

The aim of this competition is to spark innovation on a large scale in the student population.

“Georgia Tech has a lot of student inventive spirit that is not being captured,” said Craig Forest, assistant ME professor and member of the faculty organizing committee. “Because we have so many students, and they are all so bright, there are all these ideas just percolating around campus but there was no way to harness that…. [We hope to give] the proper resources and incentives to allow these young people to realize their dream; that is, building their invention, getting into markets, making millions of bucks and having an impact on the world.”

To increase the incentive to enter this competition, the winners are being offered large prizes. One winning inventor and one winning team will be given free patent filings by Tech’s Office of Technology Licensing (valued at $25,000 each) and cash prizes of $5,000 for the individual and $10,000 for the team.

Additionally, all the winners will be offered a paid summer internship to work on their invention with invitations to free business services and to pursue commercialization such as funding opportunities, office space, market vetting and mentorship by faculty and industry entrepreneurs.

The idea to do a project of this scale was totally faculty, not administration headed. A team consisting of College of Engineering professors Ray Vito, Craig Forest and Ravi Bellamkonda and College of Computing professor Merrick Furst have been working through October to put on the InVenture Prize, as a way to show faulty support for invention.

The ultimate goal of the project is to increase the number of startups begun by Tech students, and to increase the number of provisional and utility patents filed by GT students over a three to five year time period. It is also hoped that the InVenture prize will foster an environment conducive to invention on Tech’s campus.

The competition itself will be held on Jan. 29, 2009 at 7 p.m. in the College of Management’s LeCraw auditorium. In the preliminary round, students will give a 2½-minute presentation on their invention, and then answer 2½ minutes of questions from the judges. The top 10 percent of inventions will then advance to the final round where they will give a five-minute presentation on their invention, followed by a five-minute question and answer session.

Judging will be done by a five-person faculty panel, with input from the student audience, so students are encouraged to attend even if they do not have an invention to present.

Students can enter by registering their intent to compete online unil Nov. 10 at www.interntureprize.gatech.edu. Students must then register their idea for the competition between Nov. 25 and Dec. 15 and build a prototype of the invention before going before the panel of judges.