YU Innovation Lab and Shevet Glaubach Center Kick Off Second Annual Innovation Challenge

Undergraduate and Graduate Students Gain Entrepreneurial Experience Through Pitch Competition

The YU Innovation Lab and Shevet Glaubach Center for Career Strategy and Professional Development recently hosted the second installment of YU’s Innovation Challenge, attracting a turnout of around 40 participants. The competition fosters an entrepreneurial environment and provides students with hands-on coaching to bring their innovative ideas to life.

Students Brainstorm Pitch Ideas for 2023 Innovation Challenge

The twelve competing teams receive guidance through a series of workshops led by successful entrepreneurs and executives and learn the process of turning their business concepts into pitch-ready ideas. Teams are also assigned advisors who guide them in research, business design, and pitching strategy. The winning group will receive a $1,000 grant to kick-start their business following the grand pitch competition on March 20th.

Sarah Silver Sy Syms ‘23 is studying finance and marketing with a minor in strategy and entrepreneurship. Silver has been involved with the Innovation Lab throughout her undergraduate tenure, and currently serves as the lab’s events and operations intern, as well as being a contestant in this year’s Innovation Challenge.

“Through the Innovation Lab I have had the opportunity to study and work abroad in Israel’s start-up ecosystem and gained practical experience in areas related to marketing, mergers and acquisitions, capital investments, and accelerators,” Silver said.

“When I learned about the Innovation Challenge, I knew I wanted to leverage my summer experiences and take advantage of networking and mentorship opportunities from the competition. Additionally, this provided me with the chance to explore the workings of an incubator environment and learn a little bit more about startups and the scrappiness required in the early stages of building out a business concept.”

John Perez, Associate Director of The Shevet Glaubach Center shared “it has been tremendously rewarding to help organize this year’s Innovation Challenge. The competition provides students with personalized access to successful entrepreneurs and industry professionals which we hope will offer contestants a host of educational and networking benefits as they embark on their start-up journeys.”

Dr. Maria Blekher Presents Competition Timeline

Perez concluded “many students arrive at the event with a limited concept of what they would like to do as a potential venture and leave the event energized and excited about the next steps in making their dream a reality.”

Dr. Maria Blekher, Founding Director of YU Innovation Lab reflected “the YU Innovation Lab is an immersive funnel for YU students to experience the world of entrepreneurship. We offer unparalleled access to a wide range of programming, internships, and mentors for our students to utilize and gain industry exposure. We are particularly proud that the lab and this competition has become a destination for the broad spectrum of majors in both our undergraduate and graduate programs.”

Dr. Blekher continued “The Innovation Challenge which is entering its second year is a unique opportunity for students to embark on entrepreneurial journeys. The competition brings together students from a broad pool of academic backgrounds, including business, biology, humanities, architecture, engineering, and computer science. We hope the students take away from the competition that entrepreneurship can be for anyone, and that big ideas and solutions are often generated through collaboration and diverse perspectives.”

Student Fills Out Idea Board