Innovation Challenge now open to middle and high school students

In an effort to support younger students aspiring to be the next Thomas Edison or Jeff Bezos, the 2020 Innovation Challenge presented by Fifth Third Bank, Greater Indiana, and Trine innovation 1 has added competitions for middle and high school students.

Registration is open for the Innovation Challenge through mid-January, with presentations and awards taking place on the Trine University campus Feb. 19 and 21.

The challenge offers cash prizes for the top new ideas or improved concepts for business or technology. There is no entry fee.

“Opening the competition to middle and high school students gives future entrepreneurs the opportunity to begin developing the skills and tools they need to be successful,” said Jason Blume, executive director of Trine innovation 1. “It also helps them to get them over the fear of failure and the fears associated with developing and presenting a unique project. We help them grasp that it’s good to dream and attempt to develop an idea even if you don’t succeed, something that is harder to learn as an adult.”

Besides the opportunity to win a cash prize and advance an idea or concept, the contest offers the opportunity to meet potential mentors, other innovators and inventors.

Competition categories, available in each of the middle school, high school and college/community divisions, include Best Business Idea as well as the Best Innovation/Invention. Entries in the business category should focus on a new business idea or service. For the innovation/invention category, participants are encouraged to think about technological inventions or advances.

The middle school division features a first prize of $700, second prize of $300 and third prize of $100 for each category. High school students will compete for a $2,000 first prize and $1,000 second prize in each category. Adults — college students as well as community members — will have the opportunity for a $3,000 first prize and $1,000 second prize within each category.

The submission deadline for the middle and high school divisions is Jan. 13, with the presentations and awards taking place Feb. 19. Projects in the campus and community division are due by Jan. 20, with the presentations and awards taking place Feb. 21.

The Challenge will debut a new format for project presentations this year. During the presentations, contestants will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges. The judges and the audience will score the presentations, with the top scores receiving prizes.

The presentations and award ceremonies will take place in Fabiani Theatre inside the Rick L. and Vicki L. James University Center.

For more information, email Angela Campbell at or visit and click on the i1 Challenge link in the navigation menu.

The contest debuted in 2014 and has been financially supported by Fifth Third Bank, Greater Indiana.