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April 21, 2014

Trine University recognizes innovation

An application to track the environmental footprint of personal recycling efforts and an online gift buying service for busy professionals took top honors last week at the inaugural Trine University Innovation Challenge presented by Fifth Third Bank Indiana.

The top winners in the business and technology categories are entrepreneurs and students at Trine University. They were among 25 entries in the inaugural Innovation Challenge, which sought new business and technological concepts from students and the surrounding community. Fifth Third Bank Indiana granted $100,000 for seed awards and Trine scholarships for the winners as part of the bank’s support of Trine and its Innovation One, a small business incubator.

Student Dakota Bagwell and his Recycling Life concept earned a first-place award in the technology category. The online app keeps detailed records of personal recycling and translates that information into how each recycled item impacts the global environment.

Students Joe Adams, Ben Clark, James Green, Dani Pearson and Ben Witter earned first-place in the business category for Gifts Utopia, a web-based gift selection program that would not only remind the user when anniversaries or birthdays approach but also suggest specific gifts based on pre-input profile information. The original concept was titled Regalo, the Spanish word for gift.

“It’s so inspiring to experience the incredible energy in the room and among all the presenters today,” Nancy Martin, senior vice president at Fifth Third, said in a press release. “For a first-year event, we are just thrilled with the caliber of entries in the Challenge and look forward to growing this competition and our partnership with Trine University in the years to come.”

Tom DeAgostino, executive director of Trine’s Innovation One, agreed that the inaugural event was a success because it supported new and interesting business ideas.

“This is a competition, but it’s not so much about winning,” he said. “This is about supporting the local economy and our community.”

The entrants, which ranged from smart pump technology to a 3-D printing and molding process, were judged across three phases, each allowing a panel of judges to question the teams on their concepts and research put in to their ideas. The competition culminated with the awards ceremony, where nearly $10,000 in initial prize money was distributed.

For more information about Innovation One, visit the website at http://www.trine.edu/innovation/.

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