HU students take home honors at 10th annual I-69 Collegiate Innovation Challenge

Five Huntington University students participated in the tenth annual I-69 Collegiate Innovation Challenge on Feb. 10-12, hosted by the Grant County Economic Growth Council. Seniors Emma Reese, Constanze Goelz, Nathan Hahn, James Couchman and junior Erin Van Kampen took part in the event, accompanied by Dr. Brock Zehr, assistant professor of business & economics.

Held at Plymouth’s Swan Lake Resort, the challenge brings together university students from along the I-69 corridor for a weekend of innovation, problem solving, and entrepreneurship. Five teams competed in the challenge. Each team was comprised of a student representative from Huntington University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Taylor University, Ivy Tech Community College, and Grace College. The students were placed into teams Friday afternoon based on the Basadur Creative Profile, a problem-solving assessment, and collaborated for less than 24 hours on a for-profit business solution to the social problem of prison overcrowding.

This year’s winning team consisted of: Kyle Barry, Indiana Wesleyan University; Emma Reese, Huntington University; Emily Guinter, Grace College; Jackson Wilcox, Taylor University; and Carson Adams, Ivy Tech Community College. The first place winners were each awarded a $500 gift card for their business concept, “Design Again,” a business solution that utilizes the creativity of former inmates to create design and marketing products for small businesses.

HU student Contstanze Goelz, a senior management major, was a member of the second place team and each received a $250 gift card for their proposal of “KP Trucking,” a freight moving company that hires, trains, and mentors prisoners after their sentences are served. 

Third place team members, including Nathan Hahn, a senior management major from Huntington University, was each awarded a $100 gift cards for their idea, “Life Loan,” a career placement and lending organization.

The purpose of the I-69 Collegiate Innovation Challenge is to encourage entrepreneurship among students along the I-69 corridor, provide networking opportunities for students and judges, generate creative ideas, and allow for collaboration between universities. The event was sponsored by each participating university, the Grant County Economic Growth Council, and Indiana Michigan Power.

“This event is unique because students from different schools collaborate to address a social issue with an innovative, for-profit business model,” Zehr said.