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The Daily Wildcat


    ‘1000 Pitches’ helps students turn ideas to innovations


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    UA students uploaded videos as part of 1000 Pitches, an annual entrepreneurial competition created to let students pitch ideas to problems they see around the world. Started at the University of Michigan, 11 universities are now part of the challenge, including the UA.

    The 1000 Pitches Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge has arrived at the UA campus to help turn students’ ideas into innovations.

    Innovation is what drives important societal development and helps solve problems people face in their daily lives. In order for these innovations to exist, there must first be ideas. That is where 1000 Pitches steps in.

    The challenge was originally started in 2007 at the University of Michigan and has since expanded to become a part of 11 universities across the nation, including the UA. The competition invites students to “pitch solutions to problems they see around the world and in their own community,” according to the Innovate UA website.

    Innovate UA, a program with the goal of bringing student-led entrepreneurship and invention to every facet of campus, applied to be a part of the 1000 Pitches program during this past summer.

    “Shortly before the school year started, we were approved for running the program here at the UA,” said Justin Williams, executive director of Innovate UA . “Because of the late start, we had a lot of ground to make up in getting campus to know.”

    Students who are interested in entering their idea to 1000 Pitches have to fill out their information online at the Innovate UA website and submit a short video explaining how their idea would solve a problem faced by today’s society.

    There are nine different categories for students to compete in: environment, health, consumer products and small businesses, education, web and software, tech and hardware, mobile apps, research and U-provements, which are ideas to better the UA campus. The broad range of topics allows the program to bring in ideas stemming from all students and majors, from fine arts to computer science.

    After the submission period, one pitch from each category will be chosen as the winner and will receive a $1000 prize to go towards jump-starting the innovation.

    Innovate UA also has various activities and programs throughout the year to continue fostering an inventive spirit in students throughout campus.

    In September, Innovate UA held its annual Startup Weekend Tucson. The 54-hour experience in entrepreneurship allowed students to see if their startup ideas had the potential for success. Aspiring entrepreneurs were tasked with laying the groundwork for their business idea, including creating a business model or product prototype, within one weekend.

    Another program from Innovate UA is the Student Venture Incubator program.

    “The Incubator is an intensive program to provide student entrepreneurs with the tools to take their innovations and develop them into viable businesses,” Williams said. The Incubator holds weekly workshops, offers mentor coaching, gives access to investors and creates a student-motivated community.

    Hack AZ, a program for tech-savvy students, challenges teams to create a new product or tech concept during a 36-hour “hackathon” and will be hosted in February 2015.

    Maker Space is another program created by Innovate UA in partnership with University Libraries. The program fosters teamwork and innovation between students of different areas of study throughout the campus.

    More information on Innovate UA’s programs and the submission forms for 1000 Pitches can be found on its website at


    Follow Victoria Pereira on Twitter.

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