UVU launches first annual Innovate UVU competition

The UVU Technology Commercialization Office is spearheading the first-ever Innovate UVU, where the UVU community can compete for idea realization.

“Everyone has an idea,” said Kent Millington, director of the UVU Technology Commercialization Office. “What we want to do is say, ‘Let’s bring your idea out, shine a little light on it,’ then allow the opportunity to push that idea further.”

The Innovate UVU competition gives students, faculty and staff in the sciences, technologies and arts the opportunity to bring forth their creative and unique ideas and show their potential profitability and push those ideas into reality.

“What we’re trying to do is create an environment where people say, ‘Yeah, here is my idea, I’ve had this it for awhile, I think it’s a great idea.’ Well, let’s see if other people agree,” Millington said. “And if they do, then there is that commercial opportunity that might be present.”

Many universities utilize their creative student and faculty communities to create profitability. This year alone, Brigham Young University won rights for a pharmaceutical developed there worth $400 million.

The University of Utah is also known for its medical and technological advancements that have become highly profitable for both the university and the creators. Universities are known for trumpeting the science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs, but what makes Innovate UVU unique is its inclusion of the arts.

“I wanted to include the arts because there is a huge number of opportunities in the arts for commercial success,” Millington said. “It isn’t just about going to a play or a movie — there are ticket sales, production costs, screenplays to be written, costumes to be made. There is a business side to the arts.”

Millington contacted Kendall Newell Dayley, Dean of the School of Arts, about Innovate UVU. Dayley has enthusiastically endorsed the new competition.

“This ties exactly with what we are trying to do. We are trying to get our students who are passionate about the arts to direct that into a career path,” Dayley said.

The arts category of the competition includes writing, dance and theatre, among other areas.

“One of the things that the School of Arts is trying to do right now is to encourage students to see their artistic pursuits as a career path,” Millington said. “And this competition gives them that focus.”

The Innovate UVU competition will be split into the three categories, looking for outstanding and unique ideas relating to medicine, digital media, mathematics, chemistry, engineering and computing, in addition to the arts. Each category will have separate competitions for the faculty, staff and students.

“What we want to do is recognize the really good ideas in the hopes that those who offer the ideas will work with us to bring them forward, and build an environment where these ideas will result in new companies,” Millington said.

Innovate UVU is meant to be the first step to moving an idea forward into reality. After Innovate UVU yields a victor, that person or team, along with others, will be encouraged to take their work one step further and enter in the university’s business plan competition, Opportunity Quest.

The Innovate UVU application, due early next semester, is designed to help prospective contestants decide how prepared they are for competition. The judging is based on originality, practicality, versatility and market opportunities.

UVU Technology Commercialization Office, a relatively new addition to UVU, was established for the purpose of “helping students realize their creative goals in the real world,” Millington said. Students may visit the TCO at any time.

More information about Innovate UVU can be found at uvu.edu/innovateuvu.

Nicole Shepard @NicoleEShepard

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