September 23, 2021

SIU spurs innovation with Saluki Pitch competition and IDEA LAB 2021

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Southern Illinois University Carbondale continues to foster innovation and creative entrepreneurship.

As winners are announced for the recent 2021 Saluki Pitch competition where ideas turned into cash, registration is underway for IDEA LAB 2021, where participants can take their ideas to the next level and compete for funding.

 “The ideas presented at this year’s Saluki Pitch Competition were both innovative and unique,” Deborah Barnett, Business Incubator Program director, said. “As a follow-up to the pitch competition, the Pitch participants, as well as anyone else, have the opportunity to further develop their concepts through IDEA Lab 2021, a six-week program designed to help innovators move from the idea stage to a real business plan. Everyone is welcome to participate in the program, which can also benefit current business owners looking to expand or pivot in a new direction.”

The registration deadline for IDEA Lab is 9 a.m., Tuesday, Sept. 28. Additional information and online registration is at incubator.siu.edu.

Constant is top Saluki Pitch 2021 competitor

Zavi Constant, a senior civil engineering major, took top honors and $750 in the Saluki Pitch competition, with CROWD, a crowd-funding app that smaller groups can utilize to collect funds for a common goal. The app has a variety of uses – whether it’s roommates pooling money to pay rent, friends or family members chipping in to pay for a vacation or co-workers combining their resources for a shared purpose. Constant also won the crowd favorite vote to claim an additional $250.

SIU alumna and employee Kayeleigh Sharp took second place and the $500 prize. Sharp is the founder of EduCultureXR, which brings education, culture and virtual reality together by creating virtual hands-on archaeology exhibits and cultural experiences and making them accessible to the community.

Innovation winners

The competition, held virtually this year, also rewarded innovation, with winners each receiving $250. Those winners, with project descriptions, were:

  • Nelson Fernandes, a senior mechanical engineering major and member of the SIU Green Team, for a simplified guide to build inexpensive, temporary wind turbines largely from household items. The turbines would provide power for charging phones and other small electronics when needed, proving especially beneficial in areas of the world where outages are common.
  • Tyler Knupp, a senior computer science major, for his concept to help the animation industry by combining concepts of various 3D modeling programs to smoothly incorporate virtual reality full-body tracking into 3D animation using motion capture of keyframe animations for editing.

SIU’s Saluki Entrepreneurship Corps registered student organization, in conjunction with the SIU Research Park and Business Incubator Programs, sponsored the event.  More than 30 people participated in the pitch competition workshop prior to the contest.

Register now for IDEA LAB to win funding

IDEA LAB 2021 provides a chance for community members and SIU faculty, staff, student entrepreneurs, along with Saluki Pitch competition participants, to take their concepts a step further by creating viable business plans.

The free weekly sessions will be on Tuesdays from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 28-Nov. 2. The sessions will provide all the information needed for establishing business plans and participants will be positioned to compete for up to $10,000 in funding through a business plan competition to be announced in October.

Participants can join the sessions either online, or in person at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 1740 Innovation Drive in Carbondale. The sessions will cover market research, financial planning and projections, strategy and more, presented via step-by-step instructions.

The program’s sponsors include the SIU Research Park, SIU Business Incubator and the Illinois Small Business Development Center at SIU.

SIU is committed to protecting the community, so all those attending IDEA LAB 2021 in person must follow current campus and state pandemic safety protocols and wear masks.