The University of South Carolina leverages StartupWind Virtual Innovation Platform for the COVID-19 Student Idea Challenge

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The McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina leveraged the StartupWind Virtual Innovation Platform to run a COVID-19 Idea Challenge and help students incubate their ideas to solve the challenges caused by the COVID-19 crisis.

StartupWind Virtual Innovation Platform

“In the midst of the pandemic, when many institutions are canceling innovation programs, we were able to leverage StartupWind’s Virtual Innovation Platform to not only conduct the COVID-19 challenge but also to incubate, develop and mentor promising ideas without missing a beat." -- Dr. Dirk Brown

The McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) leveraged StartupWind as their Virtual Innovation Platform to launch a COVID-19 Ideas Challenge. The competition was meant to empower student entrepreneurs in developing innovative solutions to tackle challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. The promising ideas are being incubated using ideation, customer discovery, and business model canvas frameworks on the StartupWind platform, and given seed funding to continue to develop them.

The goal of the challenge is to facilitate mitigation of the pandemic’s effects through the innovation from the University of South Carolina students and seek out the ideas that address the most pressing technical, social, and financial issues caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Over 160 student innovators engaged in the challenge with 42 promising entries from UofSC Columbia, Aiken, Beaufort, Lancaster, and Sumter campuses. Student teams developed idea concepts, business model canvases, and project budgets using StartupWind platform. The student teams are also connected to industry advisors using StartupWind’s video-based mentoring solution. Volunteer judges, many of whom are UofSC alumni, scored the proposals and provided valuable feedback.

The innovative ideas span across several challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis. The winning ideas cover a wide range of solutions such as 3D printed personal protective equipment, insulated food delivery locker with ultraviolet light for food safety, mobile app to connect consumers to local restaurants for affordable meals, blockchain-secured supply channel for hospitals to procure critical supplies quickly, FDA-approved decontaminating agents to safely disinfect food in few minutes, and touchless solutions to enter doors and fill gas into your cars.

The StartupWind virtual mentoring solution will be made available to top ideas as they are incubated further using StartupWind Virtual Incubator for UofSC.
The key capabilities of the StartupWind Virtual Innovation Platform are:

  • Virtual Competitions: the ability to submit ideas, assign judges, scoring and shortlisting ideas, and identifying winners.
  • Virtual Accelerator & Incubator: the ability to help incubate promising ideas with online frameworks for ideation, customer discovery, business model canvas, and business planning.
  • Virtual Mentoring: the video-based mentoring capability to connect advisors and mentors to students and their promising ideas, to help them develop those into more viable solutions.
  • Online Courses: the wealth of video-based courses for every stage of the entrepreneur’s journey with contributions from Draper University, innovation professors at Northwestern Kellogg, and Silicon Valley executives.

While talking about StartupWind Virtual Innovation Platform, Dr. Dirk Brown, Faculty Director, McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism, University of South Carolina said,

“In the midst of the pandemic, when many institutions are canceling innovation programs, we were able to leverage StartupWind’s Virtual Innovation Platform to not only conduct the COVID-19 challenge but also to incubate, develop and mentor promising ideas without missing a beat. We could not realistically replicate what we get from StartupWind, even through a combination of other online tools. The cost would be prohibitively high and the integrated synergies just wouldn’t be there. This is absolutely the best way we have found to optimize the success of our startups and our programs.”

Katherine Swartz Hilton, who runs the strategic initiatives at the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism, University of South Carolina said,

“Our UofSC students found the StartupWind Virtual Innovation Platform very easy to use in outlining their ideas, creating their business model canvases, and submitting their entries for the COVID-19 challenge. The process of assigning judges, scoring and screening is very straightforward. More importantly, we are able to incubate promising ideas and connect them to industry advisors using StartupWind’s virtual mentoring tool. This will allow our students to make a stronger impact in solving COVID-19 challenges. The StartupWind support team has been very timely in providing assistance and they clearly care deeply about our initiatives.”

Naren Patil, the founder of StartupWind said,

“The COVID-19 pandemic presented an unprecedented, global challenge to university entrepreneurship initiatives. We geared up the virtual innovation capabilities of StartupWind platform to support the university entrepreneurship ecosystem during this difficult time.

We are working towards helping universities in transforming their business process to work efficiently in today’s new normal and discover ways to tackle the crisis, as a community. Working with the UofSC team and innovators has been a very rewarding experience for us.”

About StartupWind.Inc

Headquartered in Cupertino, California, StartupWind unveils a new way to connect, ideate, mentor, and scale startups. StartupWind has been delivering an impact to about 25,000 users affiliated to over 100 universities across 100 countries in the world. It is helping universities, states, and corporations to scale their innovation and entrepreneurship programs by delivering a digital Innovation Network and Virtual Innovation Platform that offers tools for ideation, customer discovery, business model canvas, business planning, competitions, mentoring, and learning management system.

Please visit http://www.startupwind.com for more information.

About the McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise

The McNair Institute for Entrepreneurism and Free Enterprise promotes scholarly activity and educates students about the role of free enterprise and entrepreneurship in enhancing economic growth, and encourages students to contribute and participate through entrepreneurism in creating a better America. The Institute is funded through the generosity of The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation which also funds centers at multiple other universities across the nation supporting entrepreneurship and free enterprise education. Under the guiding vision of Robert and Janice McNair, the foundation is committed to developing a new generation of entrepreneurial leaders who have both the technical skills and the philosophical understanding of how free enterprise systems form the basis of economic opportunity and prosperity for individuals in our country.

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Naren Patil
StartupWind
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Deepika Salwankar
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