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ASU students awarded seed money for innovative ventures

ASU students accepting $10,000 check at Innovation Challenge awards
April 21, 2014

Arizona State University students with a passion for innovation received a total of $40,000 at the fourth annual ASU Innovation Challenge awards ceremony April 17.

The ceremony featured keynote speaker Rebecca Garcia, co-founder of CoderDojo NYC, a nonprofit movement to help youth learn how to code. A social entrepreneur whose goal is to bring STEM education to underrepresented groups, Garcia received the 2013 U.S. White House "Champion of Change" award for Tech Inclusion.

"ASU's commitment to social entrepreneurship and fostering innovation is unprecedented," said Garcia. "I was so inspired and humbled by the amazing work that teams have collaborated on for the Innovation Challenge."

The ASU Innovation Challenge provides an opportunity for students from across the university to create products and services that address some of the greatest challenges facing the world today. Eleven finalist teams received $1,500-$10,000.

This year’s $10,000 grand prize winner is Philyra Paper Company, which aims to divert organic palm tree waste from landfills in Phoenix and other U.S. municipalities by converting it into a high quality paper and packaging substitute. Led by Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering graduate students David Anaya and Sam Johnson, the venture has already been adopted by the City of Phoenix in their waste diversion goals, and currently supports small businesses impacting 1.4 million Phoenix residents.

Team lead David Anaya is optimistic about the future of his venture.

"Since the announcement at the awards ceremony, I've done nothing but think about the future," said Anaya. "It's now time to work even harder and put in longer hours to truly make this a success."

The 10 remaining finalists, awards and start-up projects are:

Growth Alternatives in Action - $7,500
Growth Alternatives in Action focuses on creating long-lasting partnerships with communities in developing countries to help rural farmers implement sustainable agricultural methods.

Force Impact Technologies - $7,500
Force Impact Technologies creates a mouthguard that visually displays the force of an impact caused by athletic injuries. Using technology, the product displays a color correlated to the probability that the individual suffered a concussion based on impact.

Devils Connect - $2,500
Devils Connect is an academic website built by ASU students for Sun Devils to help collaborate with fellow classmates. This site forms a personalized study group based on student classes and location.

VeriFarm - $2,500
VeriFarm is a web and mobile platform that provides small farms with increased market and distribution opportunities by empowering them to more easily meet food safety regulations.

HEROES For Students- $2,500
HEROES For Students exposes students to community role models with diverse experiences, knowledge and skills who will help them apply real world application to the classroom, and empower them to set and reach short- and long-term goals.

Creative Giving - $1,500
Creative Giving aims to change the charity financial model by contributing financial support without requiring financial means. Creative Giving allows supporters of a cause to convert daily activities into contributions for the charity of their choice.

GreenLight Solutions - $1,500
GreenLight Solutions enables sustainability-minded students to utilize their knowledge through experiential learning to help organizations in need of innovative, cost-effective strategies to embrace sustainability.

PHX Pack Co. - $1,500
PHX Pack Co. offers paid internships to young people who are out of school and out of work. Interns engage in rigorous GED prep services, professional development and community engagement experiences. Services are supported by the sale of a socially conscious, high quality backpack made in Phoenix.

The Three Sisters - $1,500
The Three Sisters is an ecologically-minded program centered on sustainable gardening, a healthy lifestyle and holistic treatment and support to help women successfully transition into their communities following incarceration.

TriChange - $1,500
TriChange allows people to create and track small, daily personal goals online while also pledging 10 cents to benefit a global charity of their choice upon completion of their goal.

ASU Innovation Challenge is a signature program of Changemaker Central at ASU, and is sponsored by Perkins Coie, Follet, Sun Devil Bookstore, DPR Construction, Conservice and ZIVELO. Prizes are used to advance the students’ innovation endeavors.