An attractive hanging bar light that’s energy efficient and economical; a software program to personalize cardiovascular workouts; a vehicle-sharing service designed for young professionals: the winners of this year’s New Product Innovation Competition ran the gamut from gadgets to systems in all areas of business.
“This year, we had over 300 submissions to the competition,” said Sushil Bhatia, Executive in Residence at the Sawyer Business School, founder of the competition, and an innovator and inventor himself. “We were surprised and impressed by the range of ideas and the amount of effort competitors put into their proposals,” he said.
Bhatia said the submissions came from across the university, so that students in the College of Arts and Sciences, Sawyer Business School, Law School and alumni all participated.
“We encourage everyone to be creative, and then do the research needed to make the invention feasible,” said Bhatia. “By opening the competition to the entire university and alumni, the ideas reflect the interests of law school students as much as chemistry students or business majors.”
The ideas were so impressive that three products tied for first place: The Green Light (the hanging bar light, by Christian Wood), CV Scenic, the software program for cardiovascular equipment found in fitness centers, by Vishwanathan Asokan), and CityPed (a vehicle-sharing system that uses electric mopeds, by Rebecca Shirazi, Letitia Brown, Han Pham, Ashley Wong, and Shalyn Ward).
Winner Rebecca Shirazi said the competition was an opportunity to expose great ideas to the business world outside the university. “One of the great things about Suffolk is that as part of the curriculum we’re always coming up with ideas, developing business plans and marketing programs, but they often stay within the classroom. This competition lets us show off our work, and also see what other people are working on.”
Shirazi worked with a team that had met in a week-long service marketing class taught by Catherine McCabe. “We developed the idea and had the financials and the marketing plan in place,” she said. “This contest turns the classroom exercise into a real possibility.”
Bhatia said he enlisted 31 judges from across the country and around the world to evaluate the products, with three judges looking at each one. “The goal is to connect students and alumni with businesses to make a prototype,” he said. “We’ve already had one company offer to give one hour each month to anyone who wants to submit an idea and get help and advice.”