LC Bulletin: Students, submit your apps

August 19, 2011. Retrieved online August 22, 2011 from Janet Perez, Las Cruces Bulletin

Wanted: young minds with great ideas for upcoming competition

The Arrowhead Center at New Mexico State University is launching its ninth annual Innoventure competition for middle and high school students across the state who want to create and learn how to market their own products.

Innoventure encourages students to use science, technology, engineering and math to solve business problems. With Innoventure, students have the opportunity to create something new and innovative that may have true marketability.

Each year, Innoventure has a theme to steer students in the creation of their products. This year’s theme is a fitting one for a land-grant university such as NMSU – agriculture.

“We’re asking the kids to imagine that their principal has come to their class and told them that the school is going to have a school-run farm,” said Marie Borchert. “Arrowhead Center education specialist. Kids have to come up with some products that can be used on the farm to make it more efficient and sustainable.”

The entire competition is run through a social networking site that disseminates important information and assists teams with questions. The site, www.innoventurenetwork.org, has video presentations, photos and links to individual team websites. This online social presence encourages students to use new forms of technology to communicate, just as they would in the business world.

“It really demonstrates the benefits of technology and the power of networking in making connections,” said Erika Dunn, entrepreneurship specialist for the Arrowhead Center.

Innoventure has come a long way from the first competition, when Borchert was “pounding the pavement” to get just five local student teams to register. Last year, 70 middle and high school teams from schools throughout the state entered the competition. Organizers now have to hold a preliminary competition towhittle down the number of hopefuls for the finals to a more manageable 40 teams of threeto- five students.

The final competition is set for March 9, 2012, and several panels of NMSU faculty in business and engineering, as well as members of the Las Cruces business community, will select a winning team in the high school and middle school categories. Just like the students, judges over the years have grown increasingly enthusiastic about their job.

“Our judges start calling us sometime in November asking us when Innoventure is this year, because they want to get it on their calendars,” Borchert said.

The criteria for a winning team are clear: a functional product prototype, a strong marketing plan and a well-written, well-organized business plan.

The registration deadline for the 2011-12 Innoventure competition is Friday, Sept. 30. For more information, visit www.innoventurenetwork.org.

Read the Las Cruces Bulletin article.


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