Inventure Prize returns, teams up with GPB

After the inaugural InVenture Prize Competition last March, Tech now plans to hold an encore competition in 2010, but this time in partnership with Georgia Public Broadcasting (GPB). Former CNN correspondent Miles O’ Brien will host the 2010 InVenture to be aired live on GPB-TV on March 17, 2010.

Sponsorship for the 2009 InVenture came from multiple Tech departments and offices. However, with this year’s partnership with GPB, Tech will be able to take InVenture to the next level with outside financial and technical backing.

“All we have to do is bring our very best inventors on stage…We were able to piece together the funding to pull it off last year, but we’re really bringing in the big guns this year,” said Craig Forest, an InVenture faculty coordinator and a professor in the School of Mechanical Engineering.

“We are so excited to have a professional like [O’ Brien] on stage directing the evening and the intense dialogue between the inventors and judges…[His] credibility in science and technology journalism will help take this year’s competition to a new level – bigger prizes, more national exposure, more and better prepared inventors and inventions, and more inspirational impact,” Forest said.

“The partnership with GPB is important and welcome because it serves to further motivate our students, and secondly because innovation and invention are likely to hugely impact Georgia’s economy in the next 20 years,” said Ravi Bellamkonda, an InVenture Prize faculty coordinator and professor in the School of Biomedical Engineering. “We would like nothing more than Tech spear-heading this process in creating a culture of innovation and invention at all levels of Tech.”

Offering up to $15,000 in cash prize, a free US patent filing and a paid summer internship opportunity, InVenture coordinators are seeking to change the basis of Tech’s culture from problem-solving to entrepreneurship.

“[Tech] had traditionally not had an undergraduate student body that thought of starting companies from their dorm rooms, becoming entrepreneurs and making the next Google or Microsoft or Genentech. The InVenture Prize was conceived to create an atmosphere conducive to this culture developing at Tech,” Bellamkonda said.

Tech coordinators are encouraging widespread participation in InVenture through new prizes and benefits, including the introduction of ten $500 prototype awards to fund research necessary for the final competition.

“We’re trying to remove all those barriers,” Forest said.

Additionally, students have been able to participate in InVenture Prize School, which hosts talks from experts about how to market, invent and patent said inventions to help students compete in the InVenture prize.

Although with heavy representation from the BME and ME departments, the 2009 competition hosted a wide variety of inventions, including the winning products of Dialprice and a chlorocyte bioreactor.

“The best part about InVenture is that it has helped us validate our idea for an algae-based carbon sequestration technology into a patentable product. Our invention is about building a world where energy is produced without a footprint, and InVenture was an excellent first step toward making that world a reality,” said Will Boyd, fourth-year PHYS, a member of the winning team that designed the chlorocyte bioreactor.

In particular, the Chlorocyte team has taken full advantage of the cash prize and patent filing, and just finished incorporating its company Sora Corporation.

“It’s an interesting opportunity where you get to experience a lot of things you wouldn’t through classwork. For example, my entire team was comprised of engineers, and yet we became familiar with many aspects of starting up a business,” said Kento Masuyama, fourth-year AE, a member of the chlorocyte team.

Students interested participating have until Friday, Nov. 20 to send in their intent to compete form on the InVenture website.