By Sloane Markley, co- Editor-in-Chief
The Franklin Innovation Challenge (FIC), an annual entrepreneurial competition at F&M that began in 2010, is entering its fourth-year of competition with a revamped format. This year, student/faculty teams will be given a secret challenge at the time of the event. Teams will have a limited amount of time, as well as supplies, to develop an innovation in response to the challenge.
This year’s event will take place on Friday, March 28 at 4 p.m., with judging occurring the same day at 7 p.m. The top three teams will be awarded cash prizes. The first place winner will receive $500 per team member, the second place winner will receive $250 per team member, and the third place winner will receive $100 per team member.
Students are responsible for creating teams, which must consist of four to six students. They are also responsible for finding a faculty member to work with them. If students are interested in participating they must fill out the sign-up sheet and return it by Friday, March 7th.
Students can find sign-up sheets in the Steinman College Center or download one. To submit a sign-up sheet, students can either take it to the drop-off box in the College Center or email it to Mark Kuhn, executive in residence of the business, organizations, and society department and organizer of the event, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In previous years, students developed project ideas within that year’s chosen theme. Once the project idea was approved, students, in a group of up to four, were assigned a mentor, who was either an alumni, parent, or friend of someone associated with the College. The groups then had the semester to create a business plan, which they presented at the end of the year to judges, who were typically alumni.
According Kuhn, the organizers of the event are trying this new format in order to expand the competition’s appeal to students of all majors, hoping to increase the diversity of students involved. Furthermore, the organizers believe including faculty members will mirror an important aspect of F&M’s culture: student-faculty collaboration.
“The new format will have a broad appeal to any and all majors and the more diversity on a team is a huge plus to get creative ideas flowing,” he said. “Diversity on any level will make for a stronger team—ages, majors, cultures, you name it—diversity fosters “ah-ha!” moments. To promote and drive faculty involvement, something F&M is proud of and students enjoy, each team is required to have a Faculty or Staff member on each team.”
Kuhn encourages students of all disciplines to consider participating in the FIC, explaining that it is a great learning experience for students of any discipline, as well as for all career paths.
“Regardless of where students end up in their chosen fields later in life, the ability to work in teams, manage teams, distill ideas, drive processes that end in exceptional results are all processes that we need to excel in out in the real world,” he explained.
This event is sponsored by the Office of Student and Post Graduate Development and Mark Kuhn, the executive in residence of the business, organization, and societies department.
For more information about the FIC visit its website. If you are interested in getting an idea of how this year’s competition will work, Kuhn suggests viewing the following video: