Collegiate teams secure $40K for entrepreneurial ideas


More than 50 Collegiate teams representing Grand Valley State University and Kendall College of Art and Design competed at the annual MWest Challenge competition. Photo via

Sustainability and alternative transportation ideas landed the top prizes at the annual MWest Challenge competition.

Collegiate teams representing Grand Valley State University and Kendall College of Art and Design walked away from the recent 2016 MWest Challenge with the top two grand prize awards, both valued at $6,500 in start-up capital for their business plans during the annual competition.

Grand prize winners

Twenty of the more than 50 teams competing at the event received an award for their business ideas, products, or services.

Bootstrap Innovations, a team of two GVSU students, received the $6,500 Northwestern Mutual Grand Prize Masterclass Award for designing a method for farmers to produce ice without electricity.

The $6,500 Northwestern Mutual Grand Prize Early Stage Award was given to the eight-member Lüp team. The Kendall College of Art and Design students designed a wearable ticketing system for individuals riding public transport that is intended to create a more seamless and efficient process.

Entrepreneurial ideas

Some of the other top business plans were the Mechanical IV Pump, which is a simplified automated IV system for home infusions; Fathom, an integrated underwater drone leveraging smartphone technology; and Edicolor, a food coloring device and mixer designed for bakery owners.

Shorouq Almallah, interim director for The Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at GVSU, said the competition continues to grow not only in terms of the number of students and teams participating, but also the quality of the startup ideas presented.

“The sponsors, organizers and judges have all commented on the quality of the ideas, the presentations, and the fact that the teams are utilizing entrepreneurial skill sets to address real problems and challenges in West Michigan, ranging from health care to retail,” said Almallah.

The competition

The MWest Challenge is an annual student business plan competition designed to support and encourage entrepreneurship. This year’s event was hosted by the Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and was presented by Northwestern Mutual, Spectrum Innovations, GR Current, Spartan Innovations and Amway.

“There is no doubt that there is a cultural shift toward supporting young entrepreneurial companies in West Michigan,”’ said Almallah. “MWest serves to stimulate and nourish the entrepreneurial spirit in young talent, as well as provide them with the resources and support necessary to build a vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem.”

Almallah said some of the benefits for students include seed funding from cash prizes to validate and build on submitted ideas; a chance to network with faculty, business leaders, and investors; feedback and mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs; and developing critical skills in creating marketing and financial plans.

2016 MWest Challenge winners

Bootstrap Innovations, $6,500 Northwestern Mutual Grand Prize-Masterclass

Lüp, $6,500 Northwestern Mutual Grand Prize-Early Stage

Mechanical IV Pump, $5,000 Spectrum Health Care Innovation

Fathom, $3,000 Amway Spirit of Entrepreneurship

Edicolor, $3,000 Second Place-Early Stage

SafeKey, $2,000 Third Place-Early Stage

LoadMate Wheelchair Loader, $1,000 Impact Award

Morpheus Scheduling Software, $1,000 Impact Award

UNA, $1,000 Impact Award

Simply Conquer, $1,000 Impact Award

Ice Cream Boat, $1,000 Impact Award

Old Flame, $1,000 Impact Award

Orindi Ventures, $1,000 Impact Award

The Mat, $1,000 Impact Award

Lockdown G-Rapids, $1,000 Impact Award

The Shop Supermarket, $1,000 Impact Award

Tech-ulance, $1,000 Impact Award

Young at Heart Home Care, $1,000 Impact Award

BioMarks Studio, $1,000 Impact Award

Jewelry Subscription Box, $1,000 Impact Award

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