NDSU Innovation Challenge

Welcome to the Innovation Challenge


The NDSU Research and Technology Park hosts the Innovation Challenge each year, an idea competition for students with potential to become a business or are a cause for future research. Learn more and sign up here.


This years participation has been expanded to include any colllege student participant and starting with 2019 moved to the fall semester for the first time ever! #ICNDSU2020 is a competition with expertise guidance opportunities and other valuable experience and exposure along the way. The virtual or physical boot camps allow for even the busiest schedules to be able to access them.

Teams will compete in one of three innovation tracks. The Social Impact Track consists of projects related to the overall improvement of community, regional, or world issues. Graduate students interested in competing with an innovation related to their research, thesis, or dissertation may compete in the Graduate Research Track. All other students with innovative products or services unrelated to items listed in the GRT will compete in the Entrepreneurship Track.


#ICNDSU Kicks off with Hype Night Sept. 22 2020 at The NDSU Alumni Center and serves as an introduction to the competition. There will be opportunities for professional development and networking over the course of each of the events. Three in-person and three virtual Boot Camps will provide insight via a series of workshops on Oct. 6, Oct 20 and Nov. 17 from 5:30-8 at the NDSU Alumni Center led by Scott Meyer- Ozbun Executive Director of Entrepreneurship at NDSU. The Project Showcase is a requirement for innovators in the competition and takes place on Oct. 29 at the Memorial Union Great Plains Ballroom. (Judging will take place prior with all teams in attendance.) Participants in the competition will display their innovation for the community. The Creative Destruction Award (Plaque and $250) will be presented at the end of the evening via the Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise as well as the Dr. Wells Peoples’ Choice Award. The top innovators will advance to the Final Pitch/Awards Night on December 1  at 4pm in the Memorial Union Plains Room. Cash awards are given to the top three teams in each category.


The Innovation Challenge is an excellent opportunity for students to find practical applications for their academic knowledge, develop their skills, and add to their resume. Many students will take their ability to present a technical or detail-oriented idea in a way that is simplistic and easy to understand and apply it directly to their careers. The Innovation Challenge provides life skills that instantly make students marketable and give them a way to stand out when applying for jobs.


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About the Innovation Challenge


The Innovation Challenge encourages students to bring their best ideas forward. Knowing that innovations come in all shapes and sizes, we encourage you, as students, to be innovative thinkers, enhance your entrepreneurial awareness, empower you to pursue entrepreneurial careers, expand your access to resources available for innovators and entrepreneurs and help you engage with business leaders in our communities.

Boot Camp #3

NDSU Innovation Challenge Sponsors

The NDSU Innovation Challenge is made possible in part through the generous financial contributions of many companies and individuals. Our sponsors underwrite awards, invest in our technology, and contribute toward the costs of running the student competition.


On behalf of the NDSU Provost’s Office and NDSU Research & Technology Park, we’d like to extend our sincerest thanks to all of our partners.

Platinum Sponsors

Gold Sponsors

Silver Sponsors

Bronze Sponsors

2019 Innovation Challenge Report:

The NDSU Research & Technology Park (RTP) holds numerous educational and networking events throughout the year to assist with building an entrepreneurial culture but more importantly, to advance efforts to create a diverse economic foundation for the future.  One of the showcase events is Innovation Challenge. This fall, Innovation Challenge was

re-invented with additional events and communication tools added to help propel participants towards success.


The purpose of Innovation Challenge is to:


* Encourage students to be innovative thinkers

* Enhance student awareness for innovation as a precursor to entrepreneurship

* Empower students to pursue entrepreneurship as a career choice

* Expand student access to resources available for innovators and entrepreneurs

* Engage the current entrepreneur and business communities with students


Innovation Challenge was held the fall semester to align with North Dakota State University’s class schedule.  The RTP team continues to work with additional NDSU faculty and staff to increase involvement of all departments on campus.  This year the RTP partnered with Scott Meyer, NDSU Ozbun Executive Director of Entrepreneurship to provide Boot Camps for Innovation Challenge.  The boot camps were a series of three virtual and physical camps.  Topics for the boot camps were:


Boot Camp 1 – Customer Discovery – Who is your audience/ what do they want;

Boot Camp 2 – Solution Development- Creating and pivoting your idea;

Boot Camp 3 – Refining your pitch

This year the challenge was expanded to include students in the Fargo-Moorhead Tri-College along with universities outside our community.  Alongside NDSU student teams, there was representation from Mayville State, Minnesota State University-Moorhead, Concordia and Baylor University.  We will continue to grow this program to include additional universities and businesses from North Dakota.


The teams competed in three competitive tracks: Social Impact, Graduate Research or the Entrepreneurial and were judged in two rounds of judging.   The first round of judging was held during the Project Showcase with over 40 teams showcasing their ideas to the judges and the community.  Awards presented at the Project Showcase were the annual Dr. Wells Peoples’ Choice Award awarded to Car Poolin’.  A new award to the Project Showcase this year was the Creative Destruction Award sponsored by the NDSU Center for the Study of Public Choice and Private Enterprise.  This award was presented to the team that had the greatest potential to “add disruption” to the market by introducing a potentially revolutionary way of doing business.  The team of Bio-Shield Roofing System was presented this award.


The top 12 teams from the Project Showcase advanced to the Final Pitches/Awards Ceremony.  Each team pitched their idea for one minute to the panel of judges.  The top 3 teams were selected in each track with several teams with honorable mention.  The event was open to the university, sponsors and community.  Listed below are the winners in each track:


Social Impact Track

1st Place – PolymR³ (NDSU) developed a system for recycling 3-D Intellectual Properties developed by companies that will recycle and reuse materials conserving intellectual and financial resources.

Team members: Martin Eichers, Jeremy Warzecka, Ryder Belgarde, Evan Wurden

2nd Place – Emergency Management Solutions (NDSU)

Team member: Marcelo Ferreira


3rd Place -Swim Smart (NDSU)

Team members: Hunter Pogatchnik, Jacob Johnson


Honorable Mention

Love Handles Packaging

Team members: Jordan Zunker, Cody Shevich, Joseph Kuechle





Graduate Research Track

1st Place -dImager (NDSU) patented a tabletop device that allows the rapid detection of pancreatic, colon and lung cancer cells via biosensor. This process takes just minutes versus the current process which takes substantially longer. Major industry professionals have already expressed interest in getting this to their labs asap.

Team members: Fleming Gudagunti, Sharmin Afrose

2nd Place – Challengers (NDSU)

Team members: Xiaoou Hu, Ru Miao


3rd Place – Cell Treat (NDSU)

Team members: Beth Ringwelski, Vidura Jayasooriya


Entrepreneurship Track

1st Place – DeBard Engineering (NDSU) created a new and improved wind turbine that upcycles energy while using a super lubricant made from farm waste materials. The turbine stores and reuses energy, creating massive improvements to the current design. Several major organizations have already reached out to this team for next steps.  The team plans to move their business forward by enrolling in the North Dakota Innovate ND Program.

Team members: Korie DeBardlabon, Ashlin Hickman

2nd Place – Course Vision (MSUM)

Team members: Rahil Pereira, Michael Mach, Shawn Kontrec


3rd Place – MycMen (NDSU/Mayville State)

Team members: Nicholas Broden, Jaclyn Rindy


Honorable Mention

Customer Engagement Strategies (Baylor)

Team members:  Luke Stetler, Mason Stetler

Aura Air (NDSU)

Team members: Samantha Schultz, Dieumerci Christel, Mohammed Ahmed, Terra Thiel

Judges were recruited from the local entrepreneur and business communities. Innovation Challenge judges are completely independent of NDSU.  Judges for the three tracks were:


Merideth Bell, Sanford Health

Megan Gelinske, Aldevron

Adrian Kallis, John Deere Electronic Solutions

John Machacek, Greater Fargo Moorhead EDC

Michael Schlichtmann, John Deere Electronic Solutions

Peter Schott, Genesis Feed Technologies

Jay Schuler, Giant Snacks

Lucy Spiekermeier, Giant Snacks

Marcus Thornton, Scheels

Carla Valentine, North Dakota Department of Commerce