The ASU Innovation Challenge, a program which gives students the opportunity to win money for their start-up companies, culminated Monday evening when one of the 20 student start-ups won $10,000.
The Innovation Challenge, which is in its third year, awards $40,000 to a variety of student start-up companies.
This year’s grand prize winner was Late Living, LLC, a company that seeks to simplify the selection process for elderly people looking for assisted living facilities by filming tours, said ASU alumnus and Late Living, LLC team member Christopher Wilson.
“Nothing exists currently, except for our site, that allows people to tour from anywhere in the country, or anywhere in the world for that matter, and then incorporates their family members into the process,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the company plans to increase the number of facilities featured on its site with the money from the Challenge Awards.
“The idea is to give these tours away in order to build a database,” Wilson said. “In order to do that, we need capital.”
Seven companies received money from the ASU Innovation Challenge, which is sponsored by Perkins Coie and DPR Construction.
The prizes ranged from approximately $2,000 to $10,000. The other prizes will go to companies that seek to purify water in developing countries, portray the human war experience through creating a time capsule and clean toxins from floodwater.
One of the $3,500 winners was FlashFood. The student start-up developed a smart phone application to connect vendors with extra food to people who distribute it to the needy, communications major Mary Hannah Smith said.
“We provide a service that connects food service providers to the food insecure,” Smith said.
FlashFood Director of Marketing Jake Irvin said the ASU Innovation Challenge has allowed his team members to become comfortable sharing their ideas.
“Innovation Challenge was the first competition we ever entered,” Irvin said. “It was a start for us, not so much for money, but it was a morale boost.”
Among the speakers at the Challenge Awards were Brent Sebold, senior venture manager for the Edson Student Entreprenuer Initiative.
Brent Sebold said ASU has some of the greatest innovation opportunities and programs because of the connections to businesses and sponsors.
“If you are a student, I can tell you there is no better place to be an innovator than right here, right now at ASU,” Sebold said.
Jane Chen, a guest speaker at the event, is the CEO and co-founder of Embrace, a company that seeks to provide the tools to keep premature and underweight babies in developing countries warm.
Chen, a college innovator, said students can change the world if they find something they are passionate about and apply themselves.
“As all of you venture out, you will never have all the data or all the facts,” Chen said, “But you must trust your intuition.”
Chen ended the event by reminding students why they are involved with their individual start-ups.
“What is the legacy you want to leave?” Chen said. “Mine is a world where no baby dies, because it is cold.”
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