University News

Innovation, Creative Thinking, and Entrepreneurship on Display at the 8th Annual Product Innovation Showcase

Published: December 08, 2022 | Categories: Engineering, All News, Business
Product Innovation Showcase welcome sign.

On Tuesday, December 6, 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 will be submitted for patents and have the potential to get commercialized.

"While I was impressed by our business and engineering students' ideas that resulted in the development of prototypes within a single semester, I am excited not only by their creativity but also their demonstrated ability to adapt to current and future needs of the marketplace," said University President Robert E. Johnson. "This is the essence of a Western New England education that prepares its students for the future of work."

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:

#1 AutoLock – A safety device that automatically locks windows whenever closed – raising 8.75 million GBD. 

#2 Knife Handler  –  An all in one solution for kitchen cutting needs, including knives, a cutting surface, and even blade sharpening accessories – raising 7.9 million GBD. 

#3 HandiZip  – A unique pair of clips that assists with aligning and using zippers. Compatible with most jackets and coats, HandiZip takes the frustration out of zippers, particularly for those with limited dexterity – raising 4.325 million GBD. 

#4 Ejecto Poles  – Ski straps that provide the user with a quick-release mechanism to prevents injuries and optimizes the user experience  – raising 3.95 million GBD. 

The Dean's Award for Social Impact recognizes innovative concepts which lead to potential and sustainable long-term positive broad societal impact. This year’s Dean's Award for Societal Impact went to Smart Sheetsa motorized system designed to spread, tighten, and tuck sheets across a bed with zero effort by the user. Honorable mentions in this category went to Ejecto Poles and Opti-Shelf  – a motorized shelving unit that brings the bottom or the top shelf to you for ease of access. 

The Product Innovation Showcase Awards Ceremony will take place on February 2, 2023. A description of all innovations can be found here.

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.

View more information about entrepreneurship opportunities or senior design projects at Western New England University.