Innovation Week Celebrates Student Entrepreneurship

Innovation Week Celebrates Student Entrepreneurship

More than 200 proposals were submitted for the university’s Social Innovation Challenge (SIC) and V2 (Venture Vetting) Pitch competitions where students can win thousands of dollars to turn their ideas into reality.

Innovative proposals include a solar-powered mobile food cart that inspires and empowers students to initiate positive social change; a K-12 program to foster STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) interest and solve community problems; and a fertilization system powered by drones.

Social Innovation Challenge

On Tuesday, April 26, 15 finalist teams of students from USD and other San Diego universities will present their ideas before a panel of judges as they compete for more than $50,000 in seed funding for their ideas to solve social, economic and environmental challenges at the sixth annual Social Innovation Challenge. The final pitch event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice, Rooms C and D.

"Seeing so many students experimenting to become innovators and entrepreneurs with impact on 4 P's: People, Planet, Profit and Peace, gives me great hope for the future of society,” said Patricia Marquéz, dean of the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, founder of the Center for Peace and Commerce and the SIC competition. “It also inspires our work in shaping higher education that prepares leaders to respond to the challenges of this century."

New to the 2016 SIC competition are the Mobile Tech Track, sponsored by Qualcomm Wireless Reach and Qualcomm Ventures, offering $5,000 to projects using mobile and wireless technology to address a social challenge and a track offering $10,000 to support women innovators for social change, recognizing that empowering women is crucial to social transformation of communities.

The SIC winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on Friday, April 29 from 4-6:30 p.m. in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre. To attend and learn more about the Social Innovation Challenge, please visit

V2 Pitch Competition

On Thursday, April 28, from more than 100 submissions, eight teams of students — four from USD and four from universities in Mexico — will compete for a total of $100,000 in cash and in-kind support in the fifth annual V2 competition. The event takes places from 5-9:30 p.m. in the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice Theatre.

Five of this year’s eight V2 finalists are ventures led by women entrepreneurs.

Previous winners have gone on to raise nearly $2 million in additional funding, making the competition a launching pad for entrepreneurial success.

“Entrepreneurs represent the future of our economy and we look forward to helping create more success stories,” said Mike Lawless, Clinical Professor of Management at the USD School of Business and the founder of the competition.

Judges for both competitions include leaders in the nonprofit and for-profit sectors including Qualcomm, the Moxie Foundation and actual angel investors.

To attend Thursday's event, which also includes a pre-ceremony student entrepreneur showcase in IPJ's Garden of the Sky and a keynote talk given by USD alumnus Tim Suski '08, and learn more about V2, please visit:

Changemaker Challenge

On April 22, the fourth annual USD Changemaker Hub’s Changemaker Challenge announced the winners of its “Water: Tap Into Your Ideas,” themed video competition. Seven finalists emerged and each student idea earned a share of $6,000 in total prize money available.

Read the USD News Center article and view the Changemaker Challenge finalists’ videos.

— Liz Harman and Ryan T. Blystone

Liz Harman