On Oct. 18-19 Lawrence Technological University hosted its fourth Innovation Encounter competition that focused on inventive problem-solving and the recognition of societal values, business principles, and customer awareness in making business decisions.
Innovation Encounter is a program of the Kern Entrepreneurial Education Network (KEEN) and is funded in part by the Kern Family Foundation. Each of the eight college teams competed by developing a solution to a business problem, creating materials to showcase the solution, creating a business case, and preparing an oral presentation.
The LTU team played host to teams from seven other KEEN members, Gonzaga University, Ohio Northern University, Saint Louis University, the University of Evansville, Villanova University, Kettering University, and Widener University.
The keynote speaker on the first day was Thom Nealsshon, director of strategic technology and regulatory development at Masco Corp. LTU Associate Professor Andrew Gerhart led a workshop on the theory and practice of creative problem solving.
In the evening, the competition business case with a problem to be solved was presented by Martin Rawls-Meehan, president and CEO of Bingham Farms-based Reverie, a leading global manufacturer of adjustable beds and customized mattresses and pillows. The student teams were asked to come up with ideas for reducing the cost and weight of a popular feature of the company’s high-end bed. The student teams were given until 3 p.m. the following day to develop and submit their solutions.
Rawls-Meehan was joined on the judges’ panel by other Reverie managers, Staci Goodwin, Dennis Angelo, Jacob Lalinsky, and David Chang. Teams were called at random to give a 10-minute oral presentation to the judges.
At the awards dinner that evening, the team from the University of Evansville received the grand prize of $1,500. The second-place prize of $1,000 went to Ohio Northern University, and the $500 third-place prize went to Villanova University