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Finalist teams announced for the 5th annual Scripps Innovation Challenge Pitch Day

Claire Berlin | Jan 23, 2017

Finalist teams announced for the 5th annual Scripps Innovation Challenge Pitch Day

By Claire Berlin

ATHENS, Ohio (January 23, 2017)—Four student teams have been named finalists in this year’s Scripps Innovation Challenge and will compete for a $13,000 prize pot in the annual competition to come up with innovative solutions to media and communication industry challenges.

This year’s finalists are:

          •    Green Mappers
                Mohammad Pashtun, Russ College of Engineering and Technology
                Rachel Martin, Honors Tutorial College
                Linsey Edmunds, Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs

          •    Team Bridging
                Zulfia Zaher, Scripps College of Communication
                Chetra Chap, Scripps College of Communication
                Arif Ahmed, Russ College of Engineering and Technology

          •    Storytellers
                Oluwabukola (Bukky) Shaba, Global Affairs and International Studies
                Ifeoluwa Adedeji, Global Affairs and International Studies
                Alena Klimas, College of Arts and Sciences, Global Affairs and International Studies

          •    The Players
                Inna Tsyrlin, College of Fine Arts
                Trip Venturella, College of Fine Arts
                Kathrine Varge, College of Fine Arts

Teams tackled one of the six industry challenges in this year’s contest.

Two finalist teams – Green Mappers and The Players – addressed a challenge posed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, an influential environmental group that is seeking innovative ways to increase its fundraising.

Another finalist team, Team Bridging, took on an Ohio Association of Broadcasters challenge aimed at attracting more college graduates to broadcasting careers that are not necessarily on-air, like telecommunications systems or advertising.

The other finalist team, the Storytellers, chose a challenge by the nonprofit Foundation for Appalachian Ohio to encourage charitable giving to Appalachian Ohio by former residents of the region.

“We did our best to put in a good submission and qualifying for the finals was the only thing we wanted,” said Oluwabukola (Bukky) Shaba of the Storytellers team. “We are very passionate about the case we are working on and it makes this challenge much more than a competition for us, rather it is an opportunity to create solutions to improve communities, and that is something we take as a serious responsibility.”

The finalists will compete for $13,000 in prizes on March 27 – known as “Pitch Day” – when they will present their ideas before a live audience and a judging panel of industry professionals in a format that resembles TV’s popular “Shark Tank” program.

At stake: a $7,000 first prize, $2,500 second prize, two $1,000 prizes for honorable mentions and a $1,500 diversity-enhancement prize pool for the team or teams whose entries best address underserved and underrepresented audiences.

“We were again delighted by the quality of the top entries. This year promises to be another edge-of-your-seat event. Students and faculty who attend will have the opportunity to see how teams came up with innovation solutions to real-world, “in the trenches” problems,” said Jean Marie Cackowski-Campbell, SIC executive coordinator.

“Making it into the final four is a huge achievement,” added Andy Alexander, the SIC’s director who is a visiting professional at the Scripps College of Communication. “But even for those whose entries fell short, it was a valuable learning experience.”

Making it to Pitch Day is an accomplishment in itself. The 13 teams submitted entries that required a large amount of research, market analysis, brainstorming, and a heavy dose of creativity. This year, in addition to the finalist prizes, the top ten entries also received $500 for each team.

From its inception, a goal of the Innovation Challenge has been to attract entries from throughout Ohio University, regardless of the majors of student contestants.  That occurred again this year, with participants from the Scripps College of Communication, College of Fine Arts, Russ College of Engineering and Technology, Global Affairs and International Studies, College of Arts and Sciences, Honors Tutorial College, College of Business, and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs.

Judge Ken Klein, executive vice president of the Washington-based Outdoor Advertising Association of America, praised the entries and said one finalist, in particular, was “impressive.”

Rounding out the top 10 teams, and each winning $500, are: KEMPTER Productions, NewsyU, Trail-Blazers, Faces of the Earth, Newsy Nerds, and Team GIS.

Even though Pitch Day isn’t until the end of March teams are already busy preparing.

Mohammad Hashim Pashtun said that between now and Pitch Day his team, the Green Mappers, will “fine tune the details of our proposals, practice the presentation and look for feedback and critique to help us prepare. Also, we will contact some faculty and experts in this field for help.”

Pitch Day will be held on Monday, March 27 at 3:00 p.m. in Walter Hall Rotunda. The event is free and open to the public.

About the Scripps Innovation Challenge
The Scripps Innovation Challenge is a university-wide competition at Ohio University, backed by the Scripps College of Communication and the Scripps Howard Foundation. It gives OHIO students a unique opportunity to create innovative solutions to real-world communication and media problems. Scripps Innovation Challenge is now in its fifth year.

For more information on the Scripps Innovation Challenge, please visit https://www.ohio.edu/scrippscollege/innovationchallenge/.