Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Despite the pleasant weather outside on April 15, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members came together in the Iowa Memorial Union to celebrate innovation at the University of Iowa. The 2016 Hawkeye Innovation Expo provided a venue for collaborative festivities involving many different organizations on campus, from student orgs and businesses to faculty and staff research projects.

The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center (JPEC), housed within the Henry B. Tippie College of Business, hosted a full day of innovative events on Friday, April 15. The morning began with Venture School Lite, the Venture School Competition, and the Hawkeye Innovation Expo Pitch Competition.

Sigma Nu Tau, an entrepreneurial honors society on campus, held their induction ceremony on Friday. After the induction ceremony, where 14 new members were given honors tassels, Sigma Nu Tau members sat down with JPEC Alumni for a panel luncheon. The panel speakers were Patricia Miller (President and CEO of Matrix IV, Inc.), Ravi Patel (Principal and President of Hawkeye Hotels), Ethan Davidson (COO of Ruster Sports), and David Hensley (Executive Director of the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center). Abby Dusen, the Secretary of Sigma Nu Tau, said that this panel was especially insightful.

“I was seriously in awe of the panelists and the fact that these three people, who are successful in vastly different industries, came together to speak to our student group. I took away lessons that had nothing at all to do with business, but I also heard amazing stories about how to transform workplace culture and maximize my personal network. Sitting in a room with Patricia, Ravi, and Ethan was an incredible experience and I’m so thankful to JPEC for making it possible.”

The final event of the day was the Expo, where over 50 booths brought their innovative works to display. While the Expo featured a variety of business ventures, the liberal arts and sciences were also featured. The Multicultural Formal booth, representing several multicultural student orgs, the Hawkeye Shakespeare booth, showcasing the UI Department of English and Special Collections, and the Floodwater Comedy Festival booth were just a few of the many diverse entities present at the event.

Nearly 500 people walked through the Expo, which culminated in an awards ceremony that recognized standout Founders Club and Expo booths. Spectator, a Founders Club student business, won $2,500 for the best 30-second elevator pitch. Aquaponics was awarded the Creative Innovation Expo award, which came with a $1,000 cash prize. The Iowa Biomass Fuel Project was given the Innovation Impact Expo Award and 3D Design students took home the Expo award for Most Innovative Booth, with each group taking home $750 in addition to their awards.