Deaf and hard-of-hearing college students with innovative product ideas can compete to earn cash and business expertise, thanks to Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf (RIT-NTID), the school announced on its website. The college has established the first National Science Foundation (NSF) Deaf College Innovation Bowl, sponsored by a NSF I-Corps grant and administered by RIT’s Simone Center for Innovation & Entrepreneurship and RIT/NTID. The competition will showcase innovative ideas of deaf students from throughout the country centered around technological solutions that are science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) based.
For the first phase, each team submits a 10-minute video describing their idea. The three top college teams will receive $3,000 in I-Corps funding to develop their ideas.
In addition to the start-up funds, each team will receive prototyping assistance, training, and mentoring from qualified I-Corps’ coaches to help them further strengthen their innovation. All training and mentoring will occur online and through accessible videos and other video technology.
For the second and final phase, the three final teams will submit a second video after their idea has been refined through I-Corps’ training program and mentoring. A team of judges will select one winning team to be the Deaf College Innovation Bowl champion. This winning team will then receive an additional 10 weeks of personalized coaching and mentoring through the I-Corps’ program, and an additional $3,000 in funds for prototyping, travel, and student stipends.
“RIT/NTID has a proud tradition of encouraging and developing innovation and entrepreneurship among our deaf and hard-of-hearing students,” said Scot Atkins, RIT/NTID professor of business and the Innovation Bowl program coordinator. “The I-Corps’ program and curriculum are designed to advance early stage commercialization of products in the sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics, or STEM fields, which will help bring students’ ideas to fruition.”
Each team, represented by a college, must be made up of at least two deaf and/or hard-of-hearing members or led by a deaf or hard-of-hearing student. Team members must be matriculated full-time at the representative college at the time of application submission. Members of the team must be committed for up to one year to receive coaching from I-Corps. More than one team from a single college or university is permitted.
Each team must have a coach, or another designated representative from the college program. A coach may be a member of the faculty, staff, or other designated representative. Team ideas cannot be based on an already existing operational business venture and must be STEM-based.