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UMBC’s Idea Competition




Have an idea on how to improve or change the world? Burning up with ideas to help the environment, society, business, your friends, social media or anything else you can dream up? UMBC wants to give you $750 for telling us your idea! How can you win cash for your innovative solution? Read on!

The UMBC Idea competition is designed to challenge you to think about problems and opportunities facing society. If UMBC is one of the most innovative schools in the nation, then UMBC students are just the kind of innovators that can really change the world. Now’s your chance to make it happen.

Submit your idea online via the entry form. And you can also grab your camera or smartphone and post a YouTube video in which you pitch your idea. The top entries will be judged, live, by a panel of professionals and alumni along with a crowd of students at the final competition held November 12, 2014, in the Sports Zone in The Commons. The top 3 winners, determined by the results of student and panel voting, will receive cash prizes up to $750.

How to Enter
To enter the competition, complete the UMBC Idea Competition Entry Form, which asks you to (i) describe a problem or opportunity, and (ii) describe your idea for addressing it. Submission forms will be limited to one page, so you will need to articulate the problem you have identified and your idea succinctly. You will also be allowed to post a video to YouTube in which you can personally pitch your idea to the campus. The videos are not required, but they are encouraged as an effective way to communicate ideas to the review committee. YouTube videos are limited to 60 seconds and creativity is encouraged. Videos longer than 60 seconds will not be considered by the judges.



The UMBC Idea Competition is open to all UMBC students (undergraduate and graduate). Individual students or student teams of up to four people may enter the contest. A student may only be included on one entry, i.e., either as an individual or a member of a team.

Example Ideas
The idea competition is open to any idea that complies with these rules. To aid students in selecting an idea for the competition, consider the following:

1. Products or Services
Do you have an idea for a new product or service that meets some need in the marketplace? Alternatively, select an existing product or service and provide an idea about how it could be improved.

2. Social or “Green” Concerns
Do you have any ideas that will improve society in some way? Ideas for this category include those that help the environment and those that help address social issues.

3. Ideas that generate Artistic Value
Do you have ideas that will engage more people in the arts? This category is for ideas that would create artistic value in terms of increasing appreciation for the arts and their importance in society. Do you have ideas for making art more accessible or ideas for commercializing art?

4. Commercial Applications of UMBC Research Projects
Are you working on a research project at UMBC? Do you have ideas for a commercial product or service related to your work?

5. Campus Innovations
Do you have innovative ideas that would enrich campus life or ideas that will save UMBC money?

6. Other ideas?
Any idea qualifies for this competition, so do not let these examples limit your creativity!

Judging Process
Judging of entries will consist of two steps. First, an independent panel of reviewers will be asked to review and score all entries using a number of criteria (described below). The reviewers will be able to review both written submissions and any submitted YouTube videos, which will be posted on the UMBC Idea Competition website. The top entries will be invited to pitch their idea in a final competition (see below) before a panel of judges and a student audience. This final competition will constitute the second step in the judging process. During the final competition, the review panel and the audience will have the opportunity to vote on the best ideas. The reviewers’ scores and the audience votes will be combined using a .75 and .25 weighting, respectively, to select the best ideas and competition winner.

Judging Criteria
Judges and students will be asked to consider the following criteria for scoring and in considering their votes:

1. Identification and Definition of the Problem/Opportunity
Applicants will be judged on their ability to provide a clear and convincing description of a problem or opportunity. How innovative the idea is will be heavily considered as well as the importance and scope of the problem/opportunity. Judges will consider the level of thoughtfulness needed to identify the problem/opportunity.

2. Value Creation
Judges will be asked to score entries as to whether or not their idea creates economic or social value. Economic value can be measured by the potential for wealth creation or as its potential to reduce a cost or save a resource. Consideration will be given as to whether or not the value is sufficiently higher than the resources costs. If it is a product idea, judges will review how the idea will be monetized as well as what are the cost savings.

3. Feasibility of Implementing the Solution/Idea
While the UMBC Idea Competition is mainly focused on idea generation and not on implementation of those ideas, judges will be asked to consider if the resource commitment is proportionally smaller than the value created (cost-benefit ratio).

4. Impact of Solution/Idea
The level of impact that the idea will have on the identified problem/opportunity, as well as the value proposition to the beneficiary, will be considered by the judges. Additionally, the size of the population that will be impacted will be assessed. Ideas with a greater impact will be scored higher.

Entry forms for the UMBC Idea Competition must be submitted by 5 p.m. October 9, 2014 . Entrants can include a link to an original YouTube video on their entry form describing their problem and their idea. Videos may not be longer than 60 seconds. On October 22, 2014, invitations to the final competition will be sent to students with the best ideas (as determined by the review panel). These students will participate in the Final Competition.

Final Competition
To determine a winner in each category, the finalists will compete in a final competition to be held November 12, 2014 in the Sports Zone in The Commons. The finalists will be asked to perform a live three-minute pitch to sell the reviewers and the audience on the problem or opportunity they have identified and their idea for a solution. The winners will be determined by scoring from an independent panel of judges and votes from the audience. The judges’ votes will be weighted by a factor of .75 and the audience’s votes will be weighted by a factor of .25.

Checks will be awarded to the top three ideas. A prize will also be issued to the finalist with the pitch that communicates the identified challenge and idea for a solution in the most creative/entertaining way. A description of the prizes is listed below:

Best Idea/$750
Second Place Idea/$500
Third Place Idea/$250
Best Pitch/$250

All finalists and prize winners will be featured on the UMBC Idea Competition website.

UMBC reserves the right to reject any entry that it determines, in its sole discretion, is obscene, vulgar, sexually explicit, lewd, derogatory, or otherwise inappropriate or in bad taste. This applies to written entries and accompanying videos.

>> Click here for entry form

Previous Winners:

2013 Spring Winners

2013 Fall Winners

2014 Winners