Student Entrepreneurs Compete For $100,000 Cash Prize

Published: Tuesday, September 5, 2017 - 5:05am
(Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now)
Somatic Labs team members Ajay Karpur, Shantanu Bala and Jacob Rockland receive the $100,000 award and belt at the inaugural ASU Innovation Open.
(Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now)
The prototype of Somatic Labs' wristband device is shown at the inaugural ASU Innovation Open.

ASU’s Innovation Open (ASUio) is open to collegiate entrepreneurs across the country. The competition, in its second year, looks to reward student ventures trying to get to market.

Avnet, a Phoenix-based global technology distributor, is partnering with Arizona State University.

Melissa Gray, vice president of corporate affairs for Avnet, said they’re looking for later-stage innovators.

“We would probably want you to have a solid working prototype,” Gray said. “So a real concept too, of your target market, so they understand that their product is viable and how it will fit. And what they’re looking for then is this prize money is to make that idea a reality.”

A team of ASU and University of Arizona students called Somatic Labs won the inaugural Innovation Open for a wristband device that communicates alerts like GPS navigation and caller ID through vibrations.

“Let’s say you had a site impairment and you were walking up to a curb with a significant drop and there was a device that could help you to decide if that was too difficult for you to navigate on your own or to pre-warn you,” Gray said. “Or if you knew you were coming into contact with someone who was a friend of yours and you just wanted the device to warn you through a vibration or tone.”

Applications, which require a video submission, can be submitted online through Oct. 29.

Semi-finals will take place as ASU Skysong in Scottsdale on Dec. 9, and five finalists will deliver in-person pitches before a panel of judges at the Waste Management Phoenix Open on Feb. 2, 2018. One student venture will be awarded the $100,00 grand prize.