WiSys Innovation On-Ramp Pitch Competition winner Mitchell Bell, center, poses with UW-Green Bay Dean of the College of Health, Education and Social Welfare Susan Gallagher-Lepak, left, and WiSys President Arjun Sanga, right (Photo Courtesy of Taylor Nelson, Marketing Assistant, UW-Green Bay Cofrin School of Business).
GREEN BAY—UW-Green Bay communication student Mitchell Bell took first place and a $1,000 prize in the WiSys Innovation On-Ramp Pitch Competition at UW-Green Bay on Feb. 15.
The pitch competition was a continuation of the WiSys Innovation On-Ramp Learning Experience, a multi-week program that gives students a chance to learn innovation skills and advance their ideas—regardless of their field or goal.
Along with UW-Green Bay students, a second UW campus, UW-Platteville, participated this year in the WiSys Innovation On-Ramp. The goal is to scale up participation to all UW System students in future years.
Bell’s winning idea was to redesign expensive tools used in social media management, video production, marketing and public relations to be cheaper and more user-friendly.
By winning the competition, Bell is now eligible to compete in WiSys’ statewide entrepreneurship contest, the WiSys Big Idea Tournament on April 22 at UW-Whitewater. The WiSys Big Idea Tournament, which also accepts at-large entries (wisys.org/bigidea), gives student entrepreneurs statewide exposure, a chance to win cash prizes and ignite their startup ideas.
Business administration and art student Sophia Wysocki won the second place prize of $500 for “CarryMore”—an insertable, air-tight divider for water bottles that can be used to carry all your drinks in one container.
Business and marketing student Trenton Udovich and business management student Ben Holtz, representing the Ski and Snowboard Club, won third place and a $250 prize for their presentation of “Fresh Air”—an app that encourages people to get outside more.
In addition to the prize money, the students earned an extra $100 for the Ski and Snowboard Club. The incentive was offered to student organizations who formed teams for the competition. The Ski and Snowboard Club brings together students interested in the winter outdoor activities and organizes group trips to ski hills.
Overall, the event featured four pitches and five UW-Green Bay students. The pitches were judged by experts in the field of business, technology and entrepreneurship:
- Lamarr Banks, Urban Hub Community Manager, Greater Green Bay Chamber.
- Chloe Kinderman, Venture Associate, TitletownTech.
- Justin Vannieuwenhoven, entrepreneur and business owner.
ABOUT WISYS INNOVATION ON-RAMP
WiSys has been working with UW-Green Bay for several years to provide students with innovation skill-building programming.
WiSys Innovation in Aging, which focused on providing innovative solutions to aging issues, took place from 2017 to 2021. Working collaboratively, UW-Green Bay and WiSys leaders retooled the event into a 5-week learning experience called WiSys Innovation On-Ramp in 2022 to allow students to develop problem-solving skills and an entrepreneurial mindset.
More than 300 students at UW-Green Bay registered to participate in the learning experience this year during the fall semester. Open to all UW-Green Bay students from all campuses and fields of study, the experience included mentorship, networking and workshops. Through the online course and weekly interactive sessions students were able to:
- Identify a problem.
- Evaluate an innovative solution.
- Identify a target market.
- Meet with mentors.
- Practice their pitch.
Participating students, who completed course requirements, received a digital “Innovative Thinking” badge from WiSys to boost their resume and recognize their new innovation competencies.
Although it is encouraged, students did not have to participate in the learning experience to participate in the pitch competition.
WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.