University News

WNE Students Focus on Creative Solutions in Healthcare at the Golden Bear Innovation Jam

Published: October 11, 2021 | Categories: Pharmacy and Health Sciences, All News, Business, Engineering
Golden Bear Innovation Jam group photo

Western New England University (WNE) held its annual Golden Bear Innovation Jam (GBIJ) sponsored by PeoplesBank. The goal of GBIJ is to foster ideas that have the potential to progress toward innovation, and eventually, commercialization.

Students and faculty from the Colleges of Business, Engineering, Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the Division of  Occupational Therapy came together on September 24 to focus on innovation solutions in the field of healthcare. In addition, students representing the Sigma Nu Tau Entrepreneurship Honor Society and Entrepreneurship Club were in attendance.

WNE Program Director for Pharmacy Business and Professor of Marketing Dr. Harlan Spotts commented that "The Golden Bear Innovation Jam provides an excellent opportunity for students to expand their innovation skillset. This year it was particularly exciting to bring students with interest in healthcare together and begin to develop their entrepreneurial mindset focusing on innovation product and service ideas in healthcare."

Students developed an "idea napkin" that outlines the problem, the customer, and the solution and its value. "My concept was a machine that will completely dissolve a pill into any liquid," said Occupational Therapy doctorate candidate Michelle Kennedy. "This would be great for people of any age, for people who physically cannot tolerate swallowing pills, or for those who have a disability that does not allow them to. We had to develop our idea and then pitch it. This was definitely a new concept for me and I learned a lot!"

The next steps for these innovators are to form a team and begin developing prototypes to present proof of concept to wider audiences. "Opportunities for engagement with the Draper Competition, Grinspoon Awards, and PeoplesBank grants are open to all participating students," said Director for the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurship at WNE and Associate Professor of Marketing and Entrepreneurship Dr. Mary Schoonmaker. "We are preparing these young professionals with entrepreneurial thinking and an agile mindset. We encourage them to think creatively and to be innovators in their fields."

To learn more visit Golden Bear Innovation Jam or contact Mary Schoonmaker at