The University’s leading innovators will take a step closer to a $50,000 prize at the fifth annual New Product Innovation Competition award ceremony.

Semifinalists will be honored at a ceremony sponsored by the University’s Sawyer Business School, to be held at 6 p.m. Friday, March 4, at Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St., Boston.

The award of $50,000 in cash and services will help the ultimate winner bring his or her idea to market.

Products in development

The annual competition for Suffolk University students and alumni has grown since it was launched in 2006 with 27 Sawyer Business School alumni and student entries and $5,000 in prize money. This year there are more than 300 entries, and the competition includes the entire University community – the Business School, College of Arts and Sciences, and Law School.

Several winners from previous competitions are developing their products for market.

Creativity unleashed

“One of the most positive elements of this competition is that we’re bringing everyone together from all three schools,” said Sawyer Business School Executive-in-Residence Sushil Bhatia, who originated the competition. ”Through our curriculum and various events, such as the New Product Innovation Competition, we’re providing people with new ways of thinking and innovative new approaches to product development and services.”

Bhatia, a renowned innovator, entrepreneur, inventor, author and professor, said that this year’s competition generated a number of unique products that captured the interest and imagination of the 60 judges.

“As in past years, we have some entries in this year’s competition that are truly outstanding,” said Bhatia. “As we have seen, if you allow people to unleash creativity, the sky is the limit.”

The keynote speaker this year is Jules Pieri, founder and CEO of the online marketplace Daily Gromme, Pieri’s third startup company. She previously was with Design Continuum, an innovation consulting firm, and Ziggs.com, an online branding resource. Pieri began her career as an industrial designer for technology companies and served as a senior executive for brands such as Keds, Stride Rite and Playskool.