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Novel Tech Challenge

Spring 2014 | Article by Kirby Messinger

Bright ideas will fuel a culture of entrepreneurship and innovation at Tulane University School of Science and Engineering thanks to a grant from the Burton D. Morgan Foundation.

SSE Alumnus and Theodent founder Arman Sadeghpour organized a Business meets Biotech event recently to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among students, alumni and faculty. The Novel Tech Challenge will give students, faculty and alumni another venue to celebrate their innovative ideas.

SSE Alumnus and Theodent founder Arman Sadeghpour organized a Business meets Biotech event recently to promote innovation and entrepreneurship among students, alumni and faculty. The Novel Tech Challenge will give students, faculty and alumni another venue to celebrate their innovative ideas.

Funding from the Burton Morgan Foundation will support the first-of-its-kind Novel Tech Challenge at Tulane University. The challenge will ask students to solve a technical problem in an innovative and “novel” way. The Novel Tech Challenge is unique because students will not only come up with a solution to solve a real-world problem, but they will be asked to build their prototype.

To make their ideas come to life, participants will have access to the school’s design lab. The lab is now home to a new 3-D printer that was purchased with funds donated by the Burton Morgan Foundation.

“The work that undergraduates are doing is significant and very impressive,” says John Christie, executive director of the Office of Technology Transfer and Intellectual Property Development at Tulane. “In the past five or six years we have seen a real increase in their amount of work. They are creating things that will make the world a better place.”

Christie is working with Dean Nicholas Altiero to launch a comprehensive challenge in the fall that will inspire students to become involved in the technology innovation process. For each idea entered in the challenge, a team will be created to assist the innovator. A faculty and alumni mentor will be assigned to assist the student in the technological aspects of the submission while an MBA student will help create a realistic business plan. The challenge winner will receive a $5,000 grand prize.

Christie and Altiero both hope alumni will be encouraged to participate as both mentors and judges.

“Our graduates have been involved in start-up companies across the country,” says Altiero. “When I speak with them, they often wish they could have started that process and learned more about the culture of innovation while they were at Tulane. This challenge will give our students a venue to do just that.”

The challenge is part of the bigger mission of the School of Science and Engineering to take technology from the lab to the market place. The challenge is the first piece to a comprehensive technology innovation center that would teach and employ the fundamentals of technology transfer and commercialization. Altiero hopes that this innovation center would act as a catalyst for regional economic growth, social development and job creation.

The Burton Morgan Foundation was interested in funding the Novel Tech Challenge because it speaks to their mission as well as the school’s.

“We believe the Novel Tech Challenge will inspire students to apply what they have learned in the classroom to the development of new technologies and possible market applications,” according to Burton Morgan Foundation spokesperson. “It will also provide students with the opportunity to receive constructive and critical input that will drive their ideas forward and give them a taste of the rigors of pitching to a tough audience!”

To learn more about the Novel Tech Challenge and how you can be in involved email Nicole Graas at ngraas@tulane.edu.

School of Science and Engineering, 201 Lindy Boggs Center, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5764 sse@tulane.edu