Innovations such as the Apple Watch and FitBit, also known as wearable devices, have become one of the trendiest accessories to hit the consumer world. The smart wearable device market is projected to double by 2022.
Steven Tello, Vice Provost for Graduate, Professional and Online Studies, gave welcoming remarks. After the remarks, expert thought leaders in this space, such as Cris De Luca, Global Director of Digital Innovation, and Jeff Champagne, Director of Business Development at MPR Associates, Inc. discussed the true value and definition of “wearables devices” and “smart clothing”.
There were various three minute pitches, presented by startup teams with products related to wearable technology. Alison Michell and Nicholas Lydon, two UMass Lowell seniors studying chemical engineering, pitched their idea for RE-VIVE. RE-VIVE aims to address the opioid epidemic by preventing fatal overdoses. RE-VIVE consists of a wearable auto-injection system to administer Naloxone to those suffering from a drug overdose. This will help decrease the number of fatal overdoses that tragically occur, and hopefully combat the overall epidemic.
There was an expert feedback panel, featuring Stefanie Dhanda, Ibraheem Badejo, and Cris De Luca. Everyone on the panel were Directors from Johnson and Johnson Innovation. After all of the pitches, they voted for their top favorite teams. RE-VIVE came in 2nd place!
Congratulations to RE-VIVE! We’re very proud of their hard work!
On Tuesday, November 19, students from local colleges and universities near the Boston area gathered to the global headquarters of LogMeIn for the largest cross-college pitch off hosted by MIT. Among those schools were students from our district: UMass Lowell and Middlesex Community College!
C.A.T. Mat (community ambulation tool mat) is an artificial environment simulation tool for patients going through physical therapy. It will simulate walking outdoors, with tiles that have textures such as sand and rocks, to help patients prepare for community ambulation.
The first place winner of the 2019 Beantown Throwdown was UMass Lowell, team Ambulatory Innovations! They received first place against teams from Harvard University, Boston University, MIT, and more.
· Launchpad Venture Group is offering guest passes for two (2) entrepreneurs to attend one upcoming catalyst event as observers. These events showcase short pitches from 10-12 startups, with networking with investors afterwards. The two team members will be able to watch the pitches and network afterwards – (1st place team)
· Underscore VC will host an expert-lunch/mentoring-session and offer a final round interview to a team they select for their UFirst Summer Accelerator
We’re very proud of their hard work and innovative idea!
Representing Middlesex Community College, is team VotEd. Students Michael Dignan, Gillian Inglis, and Olivia Reposa are part of the DifferenceMaker/MCC Partnership. VotEd is a platform that works to give users unbiased knowledge about their rights to vote. They won the DifferenceMaker prize for Significant Social Impact in 2019.
We are so proud of our DifferenceMaker student teams that pitched at Beantown this year!
Read about the Beantown Throwdown press release here.
On October 16th, 2019, we held our DifferenceMaker Thank You Celebration at Moloney Hall in University Crossing. This event was to give a huge thank you to everyone that has been helping out and supporting DifferenceMaker!
The night started off with lots of networking. About 105 people were in attendance, consisting of Faculty Fellows, student teams, directors, alumni, and more. Brian Rist, ’77, Manning School of Business, and CEO of Storm Smart, along with Chancellor Jacquie Moloney, also stopped by to celebrate.
Following the networking, there was a dinner reception. Steak tips, along with seasonal roasted vegetables and potatoes were served. Everyone ate and networked with each other some more.
After the dinner reception, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Director, Holly Butler, gave opening remarks and an introduction of the night to the crowd.
After the introduction, Chancellor Jacquie Moloney followed up afterwards by giving welcoming remarks to everyone. She spoke about how much DifferenceMaker has grown since it first started in 2013 and how it’s been successful in getting students involved with learning about startups, being an entrepreneur, and making change in the world.
Brian Rist, followed up the Chancellor’s speech by speaking about his recent donation to establish the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute. Without the education he received from UMass Lowell, he would have not been as successful as he is now, being the CEO of his own company, Storm Smart. His donation to establish the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute was a way to give back and to help give students a boost in working to become their own CEOs’ as well. Towards the end of his speech, he gave everyone pieces of advice about startups. A quote of advice that was given to him which also inspired the crowd was “Businesses don’t fail, people quit.”
There was a Q&A session after each team’s pitch update to engage the crowd. The night ended with closing remarks by Vice Provost Steven Tello, along with dessert and more networking and poster viewing.
Thank you to everyone that attended this night! DifferenceMaker would not be where it is at right now without you all.
Please save the date for the upcoming College-based competition finals and 2020 Idea Challenge.
On September 25, at the Saab Center, Perry Atrium, we held our annual semester Kick-Off event! Over 60 participants came to network, ask questions, and learn more about DifferenceMaker and the college-based competitions. The night started off with food, fun, and networking.
During the event, our two college-based competitions were kicked-off. The Digital Federal Credit Union/Manning School of Business Innovation Contest was announced by Thomaz de Moura, the Innovations Director at DCU. Jim Regan ’88, Manning School of Business and President and CEO of DCU stopped by to say hello. Dean Richtermeyer, Manning School of Business also came to show her support for the event and competition.
The Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition was announced by Professor Hunter Mack; a faculty member in the Francis College of Engineering and a DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow. Provost Joe Hartman, former Dean of the Francis College of Engineering also stopped by to support the event.
The Kick-Off event ended with an exciting and interactive ideation activity. To start, each student team had to define a problem they were passionate about solving. Once that was completed, they developed a variety of solutions to solve that specific problem. Then, they chose the best solution and built it using Legos.
Each team pitched their problems and solutions to the audience and showcased their Lego prototypes. Once everyone pitched their ideas, there were closing remarks and more networking to end the evening.
Thank you to everyone that attended this event! A very special thank you to all of our sponsors that support The Rist DifferenceMaker Institute and our College-based Competitions.
We hope to see all students enter a college-based competition to win funding to move their ideas forward. To apply and learn more, click here. The application deadline is Oct. 25th.
Brian Rist ’77, Manning School of Business is the Founder, President & CEO of Storm Smart Industries. He and his wife, Kim, have recently donated $2 million to establish the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute. The Rist Family donation is a significant step forward in the development and growth of the DifferenceMaker® program. Through the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute we will increase the participation and recognition of UMass Lowell student innovation and creativity across the northeast and the country. We are very grateful to Brian and Kim Rist for this generous contribution, and for their past support of the program.
The Rist DifferenceMaker Fellowship is designed to engage creative individuals in building, developing, and expanding the DifferenceMaker® program and the success of its student teams. The position is supported by the Rist DifferenceMaker Institute with funds being matched by the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
If you are interested in the Rist Fellowship, please see the flyer for more information and take a moment to complete the inquiry form. Once completed, you will receive additional information.
DifferenceMaker hosted a Google Design Sprint in August with current and past DifferenceMaker students and teams, as well as UMass Lowell student researchers. The Sprint consisted of four sessions with the goal of teaching student teams how to build and test their prototypes in just five days. DifferenceMaker judge and mentor, Richard Juknavorian ’98, Zuckerburg College of Health Sciences, led all the sessions. Each session consisted of videos, lectures, and teamwork.
These sessions were based off the book Sprint, Solve Big Problems and Test New Ideas in Just Five Days, written by Jake Knapp from Google Ventures. The purpose of a Sprint is to be as efficient as possible with your time and to get everyone on the team to bring out their best ideas and contributions.
A Design Sprint is meant to Map, Sketch, Decide, Prototype, and Test ideas in just five days. It allows you to fast forward into the future so you can see how customers react before you invest all the time and expense of building a real product.
Each day of the workshop had a different focus. For example, the first day focused on mapping the foundation for the product the team will be building. Each day led up to the last day of the workshop where the team was able to test their prototype on potential customers for feedback.
We would like to give a huge thank you to Richard Juknavorian for facilitating all of the sessions! The Design Sprint was an amazing learning experience for everyone.
On Monday, July 15 2019, the 2019 DifferenceMaker® Idea Challenge winning teams gathered in the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub to pitch their new and improved ideas since advancing through the summer Boot Camp. The audience consisted of alumni, faculty, staff, community friends, and interested mentors and advisors. The goal of Demo Day is to advance teams’ progress with the help and guidance of mentors.
During Demo Day, students and mentors got to network with one another and each other. Student teams also pitched their ideas to everyone. In their pitches, they explained their business plans, potential customers, and impact that their product or service would have. There was an Q&A session after each pitch and more networking to end the exciting evening.
To learn more, please take a moment to watch a short video about Demo Day here.
Thank you to everyone that attended! The event would not have been so successful without the support of so many individuals. We hope to see you again next year!
Throughout the month of June, the 2019 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge winning teams participated in a 4-session summer Boot Camp to learn how to bring their product or service closer to market, develop their business models, and discover more about their customers.
Throughout these Boot Camp sessions, student teams learned about starting a business/non-profit. Before each session, videos about various topics, such as, building a start-up and customer discovery were provided. The sessions themselves allowed the teams to achieve a better understanding of who their customer segments are and gave them the opportunity to develop and test their business models and roadmap for their products.
The Boot Camp sessions allowed students to receive mentoring from previous DifferenceMaker teams and UMass Lowell faculty advisors. Homework was given each week and teams presented their discoveries in a pitch format, allowing them to receive immediate feedback from the Boot Camp mentors.
These mentors provided the students with advice on how they pitched, recommended people they could network with for guidance, and cleared up any issues on the products or services that might’ve come up in the future. The students asked them many questions, and received answers with many different opinions.
All of these Boot Camp sessions helped the student teams prepare for Demo Day; an event that allows the teams to network, pitch their new and improved ideas, and talk to more mentors. Demo Day was on July 15th, 2019. Feel free to watch a video of Demo Day here.
In addition to the Boot Camp advisors, we would also like to thank the Boot Camp guest speakers and mentors:
UML alumni,’98 Zuckerbug College of Health Sciences
The Rist Family donation is a significant step forward in the development and growth of the DifferenceMaker® Program. Through the Rist DifferenceMaker® Institute, we will increase the participation and recognition of UMass Lowell student innovation and creativity across the northeast and the country. We are very grateful to Kim and Brian Rist ’77, Manning School of Business, for this generous contribution, and for their past support of the program.
Thank you to Kim and Brian Rist for supporting the DifferenceMaker® Program and UMass Lowell
students in the following ways:
Establishment of the Rist DifferenceMaker® Graduate student fellowship.
Funding to support DifferenceMaker® student team participation in regional and
Naming of the Rist Campus-wide DifferenceMaker® award.
Support of the Rist DifferenceMaker® co-op student award.
Brian Rist is the Founder, President, and CEO of
Storm Smart Industries. He is also
the President & CEO of Storm Smart’s parent company The Smart Companies.
Brian Rist is considered an expert in the field
of innovative hurricane protection.
Since founding Storm Smart in 1996, Brian has
dedicated his energies to customer service, product development, company growth
A Massachusetts native, he had the idea for
hurricane protection after Hurricane Andrew in 1992 revealed how garage-door
failures destroyed homes. Initially focused on helping homeowners protect their
homes from storms, Storm Smart’s business jumped more than 300% after Hurricane
Charley struck the Gulf Coast in 2004.
On Wednesday, April 24, from 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., we held our
7th annual $50,000 Idea Challenge in Moloney Hall, University
Crossing. As people began to arrive they
had a chance to vote for one of our nine semi-finalist teams to win the Fan
Favorite award. There was great turnout
of faculty, professors, students, and others to see our ten finalist teams
pitch-off for a chance to win a piece of the $50,000!
Congratulations to all of our winning teams!
Fan Favorite –
Bar Scene- Thomas
Kiley, Senior, Computer Science; Hannah Wright, Alumni, Marketing and
Entrepreneurship; & Owen Hunter, Senior, Finance.
“The Bar Scene app
will act as a one-stop shop for nightlife information in Lowell, including
prices, events, and how crowded each bar is in real time.”
EV Smart (EV 2 EV)-
Omkar Bhandakkar, Alumni, Energy Engineering; Hamza Ehsan, Junior, Computer
Science; & Rajvi Shah, Senior, Computer Science.
“We want to solve the
problem of EV owners worrying about range and charging. By creating an app to
connect nearby EV owners with people in need of charging we solve exactly that.
With the hardware in place for Vehicle-2-vehicle communications as well we can
have short range and long range communications either between mobile phones and
users or cars between cars.”
“As a scuba diver here
in New England it is always a challenge to haul your gear over the extremely
uneven terrain that is associated with the best dive sites. This also keeps a
lot of disabled divers from being able to enjoy a sport that they love. For a
disabled scuba diver, this terrain makes it even more of a challenge. I have
developed a device that would either assist the diver by moving the diver’s
gear to the water or even move a disabled diver to the water or even into the
Projected Pin/ ATM
Fast App- Conrad Nelson, Junior, Chemical Engineering; Jenna Olander,
Senior, Art (BFA); Tatiana Tompkins, Sophomore, Business; & Mohammad
Musawear, Freshman, Computer Engineering.
“A faster and safer
method to withdraw from an ATM that will save Americans and ATM companies
millions of dollars per year. Our method
requires a minor integration to the ATM user interface that will help prevent
potentially all card skimming and PIN theft that occurs at ATMs.”
RE-VIVE (NextStep)- Nicholas
Lydon, Senior, Chemical Engineering (BSE); Allison Michell, Senior, Chemical
Engineering (BSE); & Derek Jamieson, Freshman, Undeclared.
“This project aims to
address the opioid epidemic by preventing fatal overdose. The project consists
of a wearable auto-injection system to administer Naloxone to those suffering
from a drug overdose. This will help decrease the number of fatal overdoses
that tragically occur, and hopefully combat the overall epidemic.”
The CAT Mat (Outside
In – An outdoor simulation mat)- Michelle Mailloux, Graduate, Physical
Therapy; & Katherine Muise, Graduate, Physical Therapy.
“Our product is a mat
that will allow physical therapists to treat their patients’ deficits
throughout the body, from the musculoskeletal system to sensory systems. It
will simulate walking outdoors to help patients prepare for community
ambulation. Our mat will have a sturdy structure underneath that allows it to
be slip-free and be buildable. The pieces will be sized so that they can fit in
parallel bars, making them usable to even the most dependent of patients. It
will be a great alternative to walking outside when an outdoor environment is
not suitable for a patient.”
Contribution to a
Healthier Lifestyle – $4,500
ECG for Me (Electro
Cardio Athletic Patch)- Rachel Harrington, Graduate, Biotechnology; Taylor
Mellen, Graduate, Biotechnology; & William Bizilj, Graduate,
electro cardio patches that work with the Apple Series 4 watch to display an
ECG capable of detecting underlying heart conditions.”
Jack. M. Wilson
First Product to Market Award – $4,500
Jamfuze (Music Web
Platform)- Stephen Wahome, Alumni, MBA; Christopher Sinclair, Junior, BBA;
Michael Adrien, Senior, Sound Recording Technology (BM).
“We are aiming to
create a music website/market place connects local artist with the services
they need to build and accelerate their music careers. These services will
range from finding local studios, engineers, videographers, beats, and much
more. The key is eliminating the search cost for these artists by providing a
one stop shop platform.”
USe Cart- Max
Ushakov, Graduate, Electrical Engineering; Daniel Falcone, Senior, Business;
Moya Alhayek, Junior, Electrical Engineering; & Shanice Kelly, Junior,
“The future shopping
cart that makes the shopping faster, easier for customers, pushing the
self-checking to the new level. The smart shopping cart will create the better
experience of doing your grocery, and it will reduce the time that you spend in
a store. Technology inside will help a customer to navigate through the piles
and have a shopping list on a screen connected to theirs accounts. Let’s make the future of shopping enjoyable.”
Impact – $4,500
Middlesex Community College: Michael Dignan, Sophomore, Business
Administration; Gillian Inglis, Sophomore, Business Administration; &
Olivia Reposa, Sophomore, Business Administration.
“A voting education app. It
informs voters about what is on their ballot in the upcoming election and will
notify them when there is an upcoming election.
They can also decide if they want to learn about town meeting and other
political events in their town.”
DifferenceMaker – $6,000
Benji Ball- Benjamin
McEvoy, Sophomore, Business; Gavin Donohue, Sophomore, Engineering; Tristan
Naboicheck, Freshman, English; & Edward Morante, Sophomore, Education.
“This is a Baseball
training tool that will be composed of a bat and ball with the ball having multiple
sides, each side showing the different outcome of an at bat. The bat has a
bigger barrel since this game/training tool is designed for children and
special needs kids to be able to learn the game of baseball in a fun and
simplistic way. I already have the first prototype made from a manufacturer in
We would like to extend a special thanks to all of our
judges for doing an amazing job!
Jim Barry ’88, Kennedy College of Sciences,
President and CEO of InspireMD, Inc.
Lorna Boucher ’86, Manning School of Business,
Chief Marketing Officer of Instinet
Mary Burns ’84, College of Fine Arts, Humanities
& Social Sciences, Principal of Splash Media Group Boston, LLC
Jim Regan ’88, Manning School of Business,
President and CEO of Digital Federal Credit Union
Brian Rist ’77, Manning School of Business,
President and CEO of The Smart Companies
Mark Saab ’81, ’13 (H), Francis College of
Engineering, Chief Technology Officer of Vention Medical
Jack M. Wilson, President Emeritus UMass System and Distinguished Professor of Higher
Education, Emerging Technologies, and Innovation at UMass Lowell
Also, a huge thank you to all of our sponsors for supporting
the DifferenceMaker program over the years and helping us get to where we are
C. Day Chancellors’ Fund
Federal Credit Union
and Lardner, LLP
P. Donahue ‘13 (H) Charitable Foundation
L. Donahue Endowed Fellowship in Values and Ethics
Kertzman ‘96 (H) Endowed Discretionary Fund
J. Manning ‘84 Endowment Fund (Robert and Donna Manning)
L. McKone ‘56 ‘00 (H) Chancellor’s Discretionary Endowment Fund
Chancellor’s Endowed Discretionary Fund
Rist ‘77, Manning School of Business
Angel Investment Fund for Entrepreneurship
Wilson Endowed Presidential Entrepreneurship Award Fund