Frequently Asked Questions
Who should apply:
USC graduate and undergraduate students from all disciplines should apply! Students may present work in a variety of ways. Some examples include poster/panel sessions, art exhibits, and electronic media. All participants are required to create a poster to present at the showcase.
Do I have to be a USC student to apply?
Your team lead must be a current USC student but your other team members do not have to be a current USC student.
Why should I participate?
1. Wisdom transfer - All participating teams will receive written and verbal feedback from a panel of innovation experts from USC Staff and Faculty, along with successful entrepreneurs and investors from around Los Angeles.
2. Free mentoring support to refine your pitch (offered to all accepted teams before the event)!
3. Cash prizes totaling up to $9,000!
What do the prizes include?
- Most Innovative Award, $4,000 funded by the USC Stevens Center for Innovation;
- Most Promising Business Concept Award, $4,000 funded by the Diem Shotwell Metcalfe Family Fund at the USC Marshall School of Business;
- Student Choice Award, $500
- Parents Choice Award, $500
How do we define Innovation?
We define Innovation [n] as -- the process of translating new ideas into tangible societal impact.
We are eager to include presentations that exemplify:
- Innovation in ALL disciplines, including the arts, science and technology, medicine, etc.
- Potential for tangible benefit/impact to society (How could your work change the world?)
- High novelty (Has anyone done this before?)
- Presentations with visual interest and impact (engaging, high-touch demos, diagrams, etc.)
- Progress turning idea into a tangible product, service or organizational model
- Enthusiasm of innovator (and/or team) to introduce their work to student and parents at USC!
When/where will the showcase take place?
The USC Student Innovator Showcase will be held on October 19, 2012 from 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. in front of the Hancock Foundation Building and the Student Innovation Fast Pitch will take place in Herkltoz Courtyard. As a showcase participant, you are asked to meet at Herklotz Courtyard at 9:00 a.m. for check-in and set-up. During the showcase, judges, visitors, parents, and students will be examining the various displays as they walk through the courtyard. If you are selected as a finalist, your time commitment will be until approximately 7 p.m.
Is it free to attend?
Yes! We encourage you to invite all of your friends and family members to this event, as it is open to the public.
What are the judges looking for?
Judges are looking for the most innovative idea and the most promising business concept. Things to consider when preparing:
- Potential for societal impact
- Quality of research
- Demonstrated risk taking
- Enthusiasm and commitment of students
- Diversity across disciplines and approaches
- Understanding of the marketplace
- Feasibility of development and scaling
What happens after the showcase ends at 4 p.m.?
During the showcase from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., judges will be visiting the displays to determine which will be selected to the next round. By 3 p.m., 10 finalists will be notified that they will be participating in the Student Innovation Fast Pitch portion of the event.
Students who were not chosen as finalists are free to break down their presentations and leave (or stay to see the finalist presentations).
Students who were chosen as one of ten finalists should break down their presentations and meet back at Herklotz Courtyard at 4:30 p.m. for the Fast Pitch. In your free time, we encourage you to finalize any details with your team that you’d want to include in your Fast Pitch.
Can I get help to prepare my pitch and display for the event?
YES! Ian Murphy, Director of Communications for the USC Stevens Center for Innovation will host 1 hour prep sessions for all participants 2 week before the event. These prep sessions are not mandatory, but it would be helpful for anyone who is presenting at the showacse to refine your pitch and prepare for your table display. If your proposal is selected, we will follow up with more details on scheduling a time to meet with Ian.
How will the three-minute “Fast Pitch” work?
The finalist presentations/fast pitch takes place at 5 p.m. at Herklotz Courtyard.
The fast pitch is your chance to tell the audience and judges about your project in a brief yet engaging fashion. You must include the following information:
- A brief overview of your project.
- Why is your project innovative?
- What is your project’s potential for societal impact?
We recommend taking a few minutes before the showcase to develop your pitch in case you are selected as a finalist; this way, you will be ahead of the curve.
You can see videos of last year’s finalists here:
Finalists will be presenting to a panel of judges who will select the overall competition winners and announce them during the award ceremony (immediately after the fast pitch). Presenters will have a wireless handheld microphone available during the three-minute presentations.
The goal of the fast pitch is to provide another medium for you to present your work and sell your idea to a crowd, in addition to the poster and physical display. Don’t stress out too much about the speech. If you have a good understanding of your idea and can explain why it would be significant, you will be fine.
What happens after the finalist presentation/fast pitch?
After all finalists have done their fast pitch, there will be a short keynote speaker. During this time, judges will convene and select the 2012 winners. Winners will be announced at the end of all speeches (approximately 6:30 p.m.). The entire finalist presentation and awards ceremony will take about 2 hours, and will commence with a networking reception. Please stay for the duration for a group photo at the end.
If I can’t be there the day of the showcase, can someone stand in my place?
Yes. If you are working alone and have a classmate or friend that can represent your project it is certainly okay with us.
Can I be a part of two different projects/presentations?
Yes. USC Stevens does not want to hinder or limit your innovation process. If both of your projects are selected to be in the showcase, it is up to you as to how you want to divide your time and present both ideas.
What should I know about my public presentation?
The showcase is a public forum, therefore, any discussion you have or any information you display will be considered a public disclosure. This means you should consider pulling all confidential information out of the presentation if you are seeking patent protection and have not yet filed a patent application.
If you want to protect patent rights while still publishing information about your invention, it is best to focus on a results-oriented description and not a description of how those results are obtained. It is important to not describe how to make or reproduce the invention.
While we are encouraging full and creative presentations, please understand that the public disclosure of your invention or the public display of a product or prototype that embodies your invention may prevent you from patenting the disclosed embodiments of your invention at any time in a foreign country or beyond one year from public disclosure or display in the United States.
We will not ask you to disclose any information about your projects that you are not comfortable with disclosing. There will be a program published for the showcase for which you are asked to write a synopsis of your presentation. After the showcase it will be put on the USC Stevens Institute website in digital form. If you do not wish to have your synopsis put on the website, please let us know and we will adjust the information and/or take it down as you request. If you have any questions about this, let us know.