Every April, $50,000 dollars in seed money is distributed to student start-ups at Colorado College. Innovation @CC is hosting its annual Big Idea competition, which focuses on giving students a platform to learn the process of turning an idea into something feasible, and hopefully, fundable.
“The number of teams that register for the Big Idea event varies from year to year,” said Jill Lange, the Program Manager for Innovation @CC. “Last year, we had approximately 20 teams directly or indirectly involved… but only five teams are allowed to advance to the final event.”
While $50,000 is available to be used as seed money, it does not all have to be divided up equally. The amount of funding each finalist receives is left to the discretion of the judges.
Last year, there were three big winners. In first place was Kadi Energy, which develops a sustainable solar power battery for use in regions of Africa where electricity from a power grid is unreliable. According to Jill Lange, Kadi Energy plans to use the $25,000 they won in the Big Idea to distribute “a solar-powered battery charger for mobile phones,” which will allow mobile users without ready access to electricity to still be connected.
In second place was iDro, which developed an easy-use hydroponic system to enable consumers to grow vegetables, fruits, and herbs. For the sophistication of the plant science and technology used in its production, iDro was awarded $15,000 from the Big Idea Panel. Colorado Springs Food Rescue got third place, and was awarded $10,000 to continue their work.
The Big Idea program typically likes to support three kinds of startups: startups focused on dramatic innovations, small business startups, and social startups.
“[Social Startups] are innovative new ventures that are measured typically less in terms of profit and more by social impact and value,” said Lange.
The Big Idea ties into Innovation @CC’s larger goal of tying innovation to the liberal arts experience on the Colorado College campus.
“At the end of the day, the goal is to see students from all academic backgrounds educated, relevant, equipped, and motivated to pursue innovative, impactful careers and opportunities,” said Lange. “One way in which we do this is the annual Big Idea competition.”
Students interested in putting together a team and competing should email firstname.lastname@example.org for details. The deadline for registration is Feb. 8.
Big Idea Timeline
February 8 • Deadlines for teams to register
March 8 • Deadlines for draft versions of the packets
March 28 • Finalists announced
March 31 • Deadline for finalists to submit the final versions of their competition packs
April 5 • The Big Idea Competition