Ureka Big Idea Challenge
Each year the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program sponsors the U-reka! Big Idea Challenge to help students bring an idea to life. It’s open to all Clark students, and there’s funding for the top three ideas. Past winners have included retail operations, fashion consultancies, sports education, sustainability projects, technology apps and cultural centers to promote global trade.
Here's how it works: During fall semester, student teams apply by telling us a little about their idea. Step two begins with matching those teams with alumni, faculty and staff mentors who will work with the students on their idea over a five month period to develop a business model or project plan for their idea. Teams who complete the mentor program have the opportunity to pitch their idea at the Ureka Pitch Night during spring semester. Pitch Night finalists are chosen from the projects that submit final plans to the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Program at the conclusion of the mentoring program. The Pitch Night finalists prepare a 5-minute pitch to be delivered before an expert judging panel and an audience of their peers. Up to three finalists are chosen to win a portion of the final $5,000 award by the assembled judging panel.
In addition to the startup support, the finalists receive further project management guidance by the I&E Program and/or their mentors in the semesters that follow. We actively support a number of these great ideas well after the founders have graduated.
Do you have an idea? Come visit our office to see how you can start working on your idea and possibly enter the next contest.
Ureka! Let your next Big Idea start here!
2016 - Solar for our Superheroes, Sun Top Solar Cookers and Worcester Soccer House
Solar for our Superheroes was awarded $2,500 to help them reach their first major milestone this summer, their first solar installation on a public heroes home! Solar for our Superheroes is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to thanking local leaders such as veterans, teachers, firefighters, and police officers for their service with solar installations on their homes. Their mission is to help heroes who save lives save money on their utility expenses while also creating positive positive examples of renewable energy in Massachusetts communities. This project is lead by Krissy Truesdale '19.
Sun Top Solar Cookers was awarded $1,250 for a woman managed solar cooker production business in rural Haiti. This plan is a social entrepreneur's response to the gender inequality and energy crisis in Haiti. This project is lead by Lelani Williams, MA/MBA '16.
Worcester Soccer House was awarded $1,250 to support their organization that is committed to empowering Worcester youth through athletic development and character building. The Worcester Soccer House hosts free soccer clinics for low-income families at area schools and non-profit organizations in Worcester. Their soccer clinics and activities are geared to children ages 3-12.
2015 - Agroponics, Locker Room Pub and Bounce Back
Agroponics was awarded $3,500 to refine their prototype and continue development to sell sustainable agraponic systems for the production of fruits, vegetables, corn and potentially fish. This team is lead by Christopher Dibble ’16, and Calder Sett ’16.
Locker Room Pub was awarded $1,000 to support efforts toward reviving and bringing back the former bar and entertainment hub in the Grind. Students generated support from graduate and undergraduate students to revive programming and alcohol service to students 21 and over. The funds would be used to support a demonstrate night so University administrators, students and staff would be able to experience the future vision of Locker Room Pub's revival on campus. This team includes Joshua Burger ’15, Nick Gerber ’15, Fernando Pinoargote ’16 and Perri Sylvester ’15.
Bounce Back was awarded $500 to support the launch of a co-curricular program focused on providing emotional and social support to students on academic probation. This project would be launched in collaboration with the new Dean for Academic Success. Young Heo ’17 used his funding for a pilot project to test feasibility and scalability of the program model in the upcoming academic year.
2014- WooConnect, Dormboard, and the Fashion Cookbook
WooConnect offers a service through a smartphone and web application which aims to connect Worcester college and university campuses with their local communities and help find the best events happening around them. This project was awarded $2,500 and is lead by Abhijit Singh '16 and Alexander Turgeon '16.
Dormboard is a 16.5"x13"x3.5" attachable college bedside desk made out of plywood, which is offered to incoming Clark and Worcester Consortium students and serves as a platform and storage space that is a desk during the day and nightstand during the night. This project was awarded $1,500 and is lead by Julia Carrasquel Marquez '16, Delight Gavor '16, and Daniel Hyland '16.
The Fashion Cookbook provides a virtual fashion cookbook that makes fashion fun and easy to try – like trying out a new recipe – and offers an array of image consulting services, making fashion accessible for others and helping them to create recipes unique to their personal style and lifestyle. This project was awarded $1,000 and is lead by Patricia DeCarvalho '15 and Hannah Martin '15.
2013- Clark Melting Pot, Raqueteer-ing, and Back to School Safety
The Clark Melting Pot proposed by Shalmali Ghate '15, Alexis Church '15 and Vika Grindle '15. The Melting Pot will be a multicultural center that supports global fair trade. The center will sell authentic international goods such as jewelry, hand-made bags, clothing, and dorm decorations, along with pre-packaged international snacks. A prize of $2,500 will help implement the project.
The Raquet-eering project proposes a simple system in cooperation with Clark Athletics to maintain some basic equipment so students, faculty, and staff can borrow sports equipment. The students are proposing equipment shuch as racquets and balls so students can play racquetball, squash, basketball, soccer and badminton. This project will be led by Jun Ha (Marcel) Lyu '13 with a $1,500 award.
Back to School safety proposes screening military veterans for admission to Clark and then providing campus employment to supplement the University Police. Their undergraduate course work and police academy training costs could be off-set with the veteran's GI Bill benefits. This project was awarded $1,000 and will be lead by Rebecca Raphaelson '14.
2012- Local Root, Sustainable Containables, and Library Lockers
Harrison Bass '13, Baran Cansever '12, Hannah Galgiani '12, Rachel Minsky '12, Laura Overton '12, and Annie Rosenthal '12 won first place with their idea to start an organic farm stand and CSA delivery service on campus. The seniors worked hard during spring semester to recruit undergraduates to take over this winning idea with great success. The students were awarded $2,500 from the I&E Program and an additional $20,000 from the Undergraduate Student Council.
In second place was Sustainable Containables, a recycling bin initiative proposed by Sharon Bort '14 and Heather Mackenzie '12 to help increase Clark's 50% recycling rate. The used their $1,5000 award to purchase carpentry supplies and additional recycled wood to build outdoor recycling bins. The bins are made using reclaimed wood when structures are taken down or repurposed. You can see a few of them around campus. View their contest entry slideshow.
In third place was Library Lockers, an idea introduced by Ngoc (Minnie) Bui '13 and Nathalia Vega Dalton '12. The girls recognized a need for rentable storage space for students in the Academic Commons and Library due to the distance, time and busy schedules of students. The project was awarded $1,000 to purchase a set of 18 lockers for installation on the fifth floor of Goddard Library.
2011- Green Roof and Campus Bike Patrol
Harrison Bass '13 and Noah Greenstein '13 took first place with their idea to transform the underutilized roof space of the Goddard Library into a living, green space for students to use as a rooftop oasis to study, practice yoga, and reflect on the beauty of the surrounding environment. The space can also be used for courses such as Urban Ecology, Energy and the Environment and Sustainable University for hands-on research experience. The pair was awarded $3,000 to jumpstart their project. View their contest entry slideshow.
Press: "Clark students receive funding to turn one rooftop on campus 'green'" Clark University News
Daniel Snyder '11 won third place for his University Bike Patrol idea. With the $1,000 in prize money, the University Police Department (UP) was able to fully outfit one officer with a patrol bike and uniform. In a further demonstration of support, the police department purchased a second bike and patrol uniform for a second officer. “Enhancing safety and environmental issues simultaneously is a win-win for both students and the University,” said Chief Stephen Goulet of the University Police Department. The University Bike Patrol launched on May 20, 2011. View his contest entry slideshow.
Press: "Clark adopts student's 'Big Idea,' institutes University Bike Patrol" Clark University News
2010 - Clark University Thrift Store
Alexa Lightner '11 and Rachel Gerber '11 proposed the The Clark Community Thrift Store, a retail outlet and resource for the Clark community and Main South. U-reka! awarded them $3,000 to create a store that will provide inexpensive college essentials, house wares, and gently used clothing to those without easy access to off-campus transportation, for students who cannot afford to purchase items new, and for anyone looking to discard used items easily, sustainably, and in a socially conscious way. All store profits will be donated to the Clark University Sustainability Initiative. View their contest entry slideshow.
2009 - The Green Run
Clark University seniors Maria Arabatzis, Sarah Holroyd, and Bonnie Unger won this year's U-Reka Contest for their idea of organizing a “Green Run” fundraiser in Main South. The $5,000 prize will help them bring their idea to reality at noon today on the Clark campus and surrounding Main South neighborhood. The team's winning idea — a 5K road race and walk is a “green-themed” walk and run and the celebration afterward is designed to raise awareness of environmental issues in the community and to encourage sustainable behavior.“Recycling, minimizing our carbon footprint, lowering energy usage, and reducing consumption, waste production, and pollution are some of the efforts that could help improve Worcester's environmental sustainability. These values are going to be promoted and taught through the Green Run and the following celebration,” the entry statement read. View their contest entry slideshow.
2008 - You Are Here
The winners of the 2008 Big Idea Contest were Deena Zakim, Erin Burns-Maine and Caitlin Hanson for their You Are Here idea. By re-structuring and, in the long run, institutionalizing, incentive structures that push students to utilize local businesses and get involved in the community, You Are Here hopes to change the way students navigate the difference between being a student at Clark and a resident of Main South. Whether Clark students view themselves as Main South residents or not they have a lot of weight in the local economy.
Press:"Erin Burns-Maine '04 wins 'The Big Idea' Contest at Clark University" Watkinson School News