USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

 


Where can I submit my application and what is the deadline?

You must submit your application and all relevant materials online at http://app.wizehive.com/apps/sis2017. The application window opens when the “Apply Now” button appears starting April 26, 2017 on stevens.usc.edu/events/student-innovator-showcase. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, September 5, 2017 at 11:59PM Pacific Time. Applications will not be accepted after this date.

 


Where and when will the event be?

The USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase will take at USC’s University Park Campus on Friday, October 13, 2017 from 9AM to 3PM on the lawn outside the Allan Hancock Foundation Building (AHF) along Trousdale Parkway during Trojan Family Weekend. Please plan on being available the entire day.


Who is eligible to apply for the Student Innovator Showcase?

All current USC undergraduate, graduate, and PhD students are eligible to apply for the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase. Applicants can be of any major, and projects can be of any academic discipline.

You may have project team members who are not current students of USC, but at least one member of your team must have an active USC student ID number at the time of the competition in October 2017.


Why should I participate?

  • From pre-event pitch coaching to presenting your business idea or invention at the actual event, participants selected for the Showcase gain valuable first-hand entrepreneurial experience and many end up developing their ideas further into successful businesses.
  • All participating teams will receive written and verbal feedback from our panel of judges, who are innovation experts at USC and from greater Los Angeles, including USC staff and faculty, as well as entrepreneurs and investors from the local business community.
  • Dun & Bradstreet Credibility Corp. is awarding participating teams selected for the Showcase with a Small Business Starter Package. This Package gives startups everything needed to establish a D&B® D-U-N-S® number and business credit file, important first steps for new companies.
  • The top scoring, most innovative teams will win thousands of dollars in cash prizes to support their startups or get their businesses off the ground. Last year at the 2016 USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase, over $30,000 was awarded in USC-sponsored funds.


What is USC Stevens looking for in the applications?

We are looking for projects with unique ideas that showcase the entrepreneurial and innovative talents of the USC student community in ALL disciplines, including the arts, science and technology, medicine, social welfare, etc. We define innovation as the process of translating new ideas into tangible societal impact.

The judging criteria can be summarized as follows:

  • Ideas – Originality and Creativity: Does something like this already exist? Is it a creative solution to a common problem?
  • Feasibility and Strategy: Is the project viable? Is it scalable and sustainable?
  • Market Potential and Impact: What market need does this fulfill and how well do you know your marketplace? Does your solution solve a global problem with a tangible product, service or organizational model
  • WOW Factor: Are you showing risk taking? Will this excite us? Can I buy stock or get involved?
  • Quality and Presentation: how thoroughly have you put together your application package and are you effectively able to communicate it to potential investors?

What should I include in my application?

In addition to completing the application questions, extra documentation should be included with your application. Marketing materials, prototype images or a business plan (although a formal business plan is not required) will make your work appear more developed and help reviewers better visualize how your project can have a societal impact. Also, we require all applicants to submit a 3-minute video (YouTube link) to verbally pitch their project. The video can be as sophisticated as a Kickstarter video, but it can also be as simple as a person talking to the camera and communicating clearly and concisely about the project.


When will I be notified if I am accepted into the Student Innovator Showcase and what happens next?

Teams will be notified by September 25, 2017 via e-mail if they have been selected for the Showcase. Please be prepared to be at the Showcase during the entire event Friday, October 13, 2017 from 9AM to 3PM. You will have a few weeks to prepare for the Showcase, perhaps refine your verbal pitch, business plan and marketing materials including models or prototypes that you will display at the event. Also, for teams accepted to compete in the Showcase, we will be offering a pitch and presentation training workshop in September 2017, approximately two weeks prior to the Showcase date. The class will be provided by instructors from the USC Marshall School of Business and USC Entrepreneur Club (E-Club) for all teams selected for the Showcase. The training session date will be announced via e-mail to accepted teams.


Is it free to attend or apply?

Yes! We have never charged a fee to apply for our competition, as the cash prizes are generously sponsored by the USC community. The event is free to attend and open to the public, so we encourage you to invite friends and family.


What happens at the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase?

The schedule is (subject to change):
October 13, 2017

9AM-11AM: Student Innovator Showcase (24 teams)
11AM-12PM: Lunch provided to teams
12PM-12:45PM: Keynote guest speaker (name to be announced)
12:45PM-2:30PM: Finalists announced & Finalist Fast Pitch Round (10 teams)
2:30PM-3PM: Announcement of Winners and Awards Ceremony

Each team selected for the Showcase will have designated table space to display their projects at the Showcase. Posters and/or a physical display (including prototypes) are encouraged. From 9AM to 11AM, teams will spend the morning speaking to judges and Trojan Family Weekend attendees as they visit their tables. Each team of judges will have a scheduled 10-minute timeslot with each team and will be gathering information to assess and score the teams. After lunch and the keynote speech, the ten highest scoring teams will be advanced to the Fast Pitch round in the afternoon. Lunch will be provided for all participants.

Student teams chosen as one of 10 finalist teams can designate one speaker to deliver the pitch.

 


How will the finalist “Fast Pitch” round work?

Each finalist team will get 3 minutes at the podium with a microphone to speak about their project before an audience and the judges. No other audio/visual aides will be used; however a hand-held prop is allowed. Pitch speeches should describe projects in a brief yet engaging fashion. The following information should be included:

  • A quick overview of the project.
  • Why is the project innovative?
  • What is the project’s potential for societal impact?

We recommend teams develop their 3-minute pitch to bring to the Pitch and Presentation Training Workshop, and then further prepare their pitch for the Showcase in case they are selected as a finalist. The goal of the Fast Pitch Round is to provide another medium to present and sell the idea, in addition to what was already displayed at the Showcase, so it’s great to bring something new that hasn’t already been shown. The panel of judges will select the overall competition winners following the Fast Pitch.


What happens after the finalist presentations (Fast Pitch round)?

After all finalists have completed their fast pitch speeches, we encourage teams to stick around as there will be a guest keynote speaker. During this time, the judges will convene and select the winners. The winners will be announced immediately following the keynote speech.

The event will end with the announcement of the winners and presentation of awards.

 


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 fine. If you are working in a team, not all team members have to be present.


Can I be part of two different projects/presentations?

Yes. The USC Stevens Center for Innovation 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 removing 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 not to 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 Center for Innovation’s 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.


Do I still own my own invention if I participate?

Yes. There is no requirement to transfer IP, or intellectual property, for this competition. The USC Stevens Center for Innovation does not and will not have ownership of your invention if you apply for and/or participate in the USC Stevens Student Innovator Showcase.


Still have questions?

Contact Peijean Tsai, USC Stevens Marketing Coordinator at peijeant@usc.edu.