Penn President Amy Gutmann announced today the launch of the President’s Innovation Prize, an opportunity for Penn students to apply their entrepreneurial ideas to the real world while also making a difference.
The prize, which will be awarded to a senior or a group of up to five seniors, includes a $100,000 award along with a $50,000 living stipend for each team member. Winners will also receive designated office space in the Pennovation Works for one year and mentorship from Penn Innovation Center staff.
Projects, which should be commercial in nature, must also be socially impactful. Gutmann emphasized the importance of “doing well by doing good,” saying that the prize is “looking for students to take what they learn in the classroom and put it into an innovative commercially viable idea that has social impact.”
Applications are welcome from students of all four undergraduate schools. Penn Innovation Center Executive Director John Swartley explained that while most innovations are technological, the “spirit of entrepreneurship” allows for proposals that encompass all disciplines.
Ultimately, the prize will spur on Penn’s efforts to increase innovation, a priority of Gutmann’s and the Penn Compact 2020.
“It helps the overall spirit and culture and innovation here,” Swartley said. “The innovation ecosystem ties us all together.”
Applications for the prize will open later this week. The deadline for submissions is Feb. 12, 2016, and the prize will be awarded in April 2016. The application includes a project description, a commitment from a mentor, two letters of recommendation, a resume, a business plan and an optional 90-second video.
Gutmann said that the prize is particularly fitting for Penn students because of their inclination towards creativity and innovation as well as social impact.
“One of the major reasons that I think this prize is so appropriate is because Penn students are so eager to be entrepreneurial, use their education to be entrepreneurial and to do good at the same time,” Gutmann said. “This prize encapsulates all of that DNA that’s already in the Penn student body.”
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