University News

Agile Innovation and Adaptable Skill Building at 7th Annual Product Innovation Showcase

Published: December 14, 2021 | Categories: Business, All News, Engineering

On Tuesday, December 7, the Western New England University Colleges of Business and Engineering held their annual student Product Innovation Showcase in Rivers Memorial Hall. Entrepreneurial teams of Engineering and Business students participated in a cross-disciplinary course and collaborated to develop marketable products. Engineering students developed a limited functioning prototype of an invention, and Business students developed the preliminary marketing strategy and business plan for the product – all within one semester. A few of the product concepts are submitted for patents and have the potential to get commercialized.

VIP investors are each given $1 million GBD (Golden Bear Dollars) - Western New England University currency - to invest in the product innovations that they felt demonstrated the most commercial viability. Investors were encouraged to consider the following factors; the quality of the prototype, the product’s usefulness and benefits, the target market strategy, an explanation of financial questions for production costs and revenue projections, and the professionalism of team members at the Showcase.

Each team obtained funds well beyond their investment “ask”. The top GBD investments are:

Eyedar - Accessibility cluster winner - raising $5.1 million
Praequa - Safety cluster winner –raising $4.2 million
Mail Sense - Household and Industrial cluster winner - raising $3.6 million
The Reel Deal - Outdoors and Recreation cluster winner - raising $1.8 million
Honorable Mentions go to Auto Safety Gate, Gear Electric, and Handy Jar Opener raising over $3 million each.

This year, College of Business Dean Sharianne Walker created a new award category, The Deans' Award for Societal Impact. Criteria for the award are innovative concepts which lead to potential and sustainable long-term positive broad societal impact, team presentation, realistic business vision and plan, and demonstration of viable first-generation prototype.

Dean Walker had input from College of Engineering Dean S. Hossein Cheraghi and several WNE University Board Trustees. This first-time award goes to The Reel Deal with Honorable Mentions to Versa Chair and Eyedar.

This annual event is made possible by the generous support of Chicopee-based U.S. Tsubaki Automotive (USTA) a leading manufacturer and supplier of power transmission and motion control products, with a commitment to excellence in quality, dependability and customer service. U.S. Tsubaki Automotive designs and manufactures timing drive systems for most major Automotive manufactures. USTA has manufacturing plants in Chicopee, MA and Portland, TN and a sales office in Detroit, MI.

A description of all innovations can be found here. View more information about entrepreneurship opportunities or senior design projects at Western New England University.