The Howard Isaacson Innovation Challenge was founded in collaboration with event sponsor Dr. Jeremy Office in 2013 and named after his grandfather, a mentor and entrepreneur. The competition gives Lynn students, faculty and staff the opportunity to take their idea for a new product or business, research that idea, and develop a pitch to introduce it to investors and the marketplace.
The innovation challenge launches annually in the fall semester and is run by Brian Sommer, assistant professor of management.
In 2016, MBA student Stephany Lopez Da Silva won first place for her company, All Shapes and Colors, which offers specialized products for same-sex parents and their children. Da Silva's products include T-shirts, bodysuits, bibs, baby albums, children books, a surrogacy book and stickers.
The competition's runner-up, MBA student Majed Charife, won for his company Hire Squire, which helps international students looking to study in the United States. Entrepreneurship major, Samantha Haag, was the competitions third-place winner for her company Nerdvana, a nerd-themed restaurant/social event.
The annual competition welcomed 20 competitors representing undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty and staff members.
The final round featured four participants who presented their ideas to judges Richard Pollack, entrepreneur and chief executive officer of Vetify; Elis J. Parker, real estate entrepreneur and program contributor; Deborah Landford, consultant for Florida Small Business Development Center; and Miguel Sonnak, MBA student and former competition winner.
- First place: Cameron Hewes, a senior in the Conservatory of Music, won $3,000 with his online store for sheet music, Cam Co. The fundamentals of Hewes' proposed web-based company are easy navigation, quality content and powerful search functions, and his target buyer is internet-savvy college-age musicians.
- Runner-up: Jade Wiggins, Lynn MBA student, won $1,200 for her Snap Yoga idea. Wiggins’ workout mat and easy snap-on towel created a versatile and convenient two-in-one accessory, which she said filled a gap in the $80 million global yoga market.
- Third place: Barbara Llossas won $800 to support her business venture, P.E.T. Cap. Llossas' product was designed to help reduce the occurrence and severity of ear infections during pet grooming. Her pet shower cap is currently available on Etsy.
The College of Business and Management is so large (more than 1,000 students)—and so international (students from nearly 100 countries)—it warranted having its own brand new building: The Mohammed Indimi International Business Center was dedicated in 2014.
The Indimi Center includes lots of space for ingenuity, with incredible options for hands-on, technology-based learning. The center is outfitted with technology systems to enhance the students’ educational environment, with 11 classrooms and a wealth of other areas including:
- A Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI), developing skills in the creation and development of new companies
- The Venture Lab, a branch of the CEI, which will transform students’ start-up concepts into ready-to-launch businesses
- An Investment and Trading Room, providing access to the same resources and technology that students will use in their business careers
- Beyond the Classroom, a space for students to enjoy hands-on learning and work on campus with outside companies
- A new Career Preparation and Internship Center
In addition, more than 15 other new spaces provide conference and meeting areas for collaboration between students, faculty and outside corporations. In keeping with Lynn's sustainability initiative, which is the largest of its kind in the state, Lynn is pursuing LEED Platinum certification—the highest level of certification awarded by the United States Green Building Coalition. The building's green design features will:
- Take advantage of natural sunlight as a lighting source, decreasing the need for artificial lighting
- Harvest rainwater, reducing the use of ground water
- Offer two recycling stations for trash disposal