The Lynn University Innovation Challenge is a 12-week program open to Lynn students, faculty and staff. The program takes selected teams through Stanford's Lean LaunchPad process to build a venture. The culmination of the program is a pitch to a panel of early stage venture investors.
This year, the winner of the innovation challenge receives a spot in the Tech Runway Venture Program. FAU Tech Runway provides entrepreneurial teams with a complete ecosystem to house, educate, mentor and fund their companies from origination through venture funding. Since its inception in 2014, FAU Tech Runway has launched and served 52 startup companies, which collectively have raised more than $46 million in capital, created nearly 300 jobs and generated more than $23 million in sales revenue.
The innovation challenge launches annually in the fall semester and is run by Lauri Olivier, Sylvester Foundation Chair in Entrepreneurship and Director of the Snyder Idea Lab.
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.
In 2017, Cameron Hewes, a senior in the Conservatory of Music, won first place and $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.
The competition had two runners-up, Jade Wiggins, who won $1,200 for her Snap Yoga idea, and Barbara Llossas, who won $800 to support her business venture, P.E.T. Cap.