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SALT LAKE CITY Waterproof backpack made from an old camping tent. Technology that scans your pantry and gives you recipe ideas for what you have. Glow-in-the-dark hockey puck. A water tester that reads what elements are in water.
All of these ideas come from Utah high school students, and there will be more ideas to share early next year.
Utah high school students can win up to $10,000 from the Lassonde Entrepreneurship Institute at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School for innovative business solutions, applications and products designed to solve problems they encounter in everyday life. The application process began in September and will end in January.
Anne Bastien, director of the Utah High School’s Entrepreneur Challenge program, said the program receives about 90 applications each year. Out of 90 applications, 20 finalists will be selected to present their ideas.
Inventions are then evaluated based on four criteria: problem, solution, market and prototype.
“What is the problem in the world or the opportunity that you see, and then what unique solution do you propose? Who is it for? What is your unique idea? Hasn’t this happened before? What sets you apart?” – Bastien said, explaining what questions the application seeks to answer.
Vivek Anandh and co-founder Adrian Sucahyo won first place in the 2022 Entrepreneur Competition for their idea for a water tester that reads the contents of home plumbing and drinking water.
The idea came when Anandh’s family noticed white residue on pots and pans when they first moved into their Holladay home in 2017. After paying someone to test the water, Anandh and Sucahyo teamed up to find a cheaper way for families to do the same .
“I would say a lot of the process was problem-solving on the fly because neither of us had any business experience. (…) So we solved some problems and Lassonde helped us a lot,” said Anandh, who is currently a student at the University of Utah at the Lassonde Institute.
Anandh and Sucahyo didn’t plan to pursue entrepreneurship, but when they came up with the idea of organizing a school engineering competition, they decided to take it further.
Anandh said that for students considering applying, the competition is a great learning opportunity.
“There are a lot of great prizes and the money definitely helped us a lot, but I think this experience helped us more. We have learned a lot and I would say for those who are thinking of joining, just go ahead and just apply,” Anandh said.
Students applying do not need to have the product itself on hand, but a presentation of the idea is necessary. Anandh said the prototype of their invention impressed the judges.
The first place winner will receive $10,000, the other winners will receive various cash prizes. All 20 finalists will receive a $1,000 housing stipend and a place in Lassonde studios’ entrepreneurship program in the United States. The $10,000 can be used for any purpose the winner desires, often for product development and schooling.
Bastien stressed that applicants can submit more than one application if they have multiple ideas.
Although Anandh and Sucahyo have not yet reached the stage of selling their product, being part of Lassonde has helped them make the right contacts to produce the product and start selling it, Anandh said.
The application deadline is January 16, 2024. More information about the challenge, including deadlines, can be found on the Lassonde website.
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