Workshop 1: Identifying Problems

On February 18, from 5:30 – 7 p.m., DifferenceMaker held its’ first workshop series session of 2021! Over 70 people participated for this exciting virtual event. The focus of Workshop 1 was identifying problems.

Holly Lalos, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Program Director opened the event. She provided a brief overview of the agenda for the evening. Introductions of the guest presenters, Professor Mazen El Ghaziri, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, and Professor Tom Wilkes, Kennedy College of Sciences, also took place.

Then, Professor El Ghaziri presented. He asked the student audience – what do you think of when the topic of “problems” is mentioned. Even virtually, this event was interactive and experiential. A Slido poll was used, which allowed students to participate, while showing everyone’s answers in real time.

The answers that participants provided. The larger words came up most frequently.

During the presentation, a variety of interesting past DifferenceMaker team “problem” examples were showcased.

For example, Support our Students, Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker in 2014, noticed a problem on University campuses – Commuter students could not afford food while being on campus all day. On the other hand, students that lived on campus had meal plans that weren’t always being used. With these problems in mind, they created a solution which was a web platform that allowed students to donate meals to students who needed them, discreetly.

Professor Wilkes presented another example of a successful past problem pitch. The CAT MAT, presented by Katie Muise and Michelle Mailloux. They noticed a problem in the physical therapy field; there is no way for patients to relearn how to walk on various surfaces without having to leave the facility. With this key problem in mind, they were able to develop a solution that solved the problem; a mat that mimics various outdoors terrains.

Professor El Ghaziri, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, presenting the elements of identifying a problem.

In order to have a strong problem, statistics should be provided. Additionally, backing up the problem by showing its effects on people (showing the “pain”), is a great way to strengthen the problem. Market research, surveys, and interviewing people who could possibly benefit from the problem being solved (customers) are tips to showcase that the problem matters.

Then, an activity took place and breakout groups were formed with two DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow facilitators in each room acting as mentors. Students chose a topic they were interested in, such as business, environmental issues, engineering related, and more.

This also served as a great networking opportunity for students to meet potential new teammates and gain connections. Each group was able to discuss problems they were interested in, and worked together to complete the “DifferenceMaker Problem Toolkit Worksheet.”

Afterwards, students were able to present their ideas. Issues related to the environment, loneliness while being an international student, food insecurity, chronic pain causing depression, and plastic waste infiltrating our planet, were just some of the problems presented.

Participants presenting their problems and sharing ideas!

Thank you to everyone that joined DifferenceMaker for Workshop 1! If you are interested in learning how to further develop your idea, build-up your team, and have fun, please register for the upcoming workshops:

Workshop 2 – Assessing Opportunities and Value Propositions – February 22; 5:30-7 p.m.

Workshop 3 – Developing Business Models – February 25; 5:30-7 p.m.

Workshop 4 – Delivering Your Rocket Pitch – March 2; 5:30-7 p.m.

Questions? DifferenceMaker@uml.edu.

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2021 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge Kick-Off and Idea Hack

On February 2, from 5:30 – 7 p.m., DifferenceMaker® held its’ spring semester $50,000 Idea Challenge Kick-Off and Idea Hack event! Over 60 participants – consisting of students and faculty, joined this eventful evening.

To kick off the event, Holly Lalos, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Program Director, provided a brief introduction about the DifferenceMaker program and the agenda for the evening. She then introduced Provost Joseph Hartman, who said welcoming remarks and shared exciting news regarding past DifferenceMaker student teams, such as invisaWear gaining a partnership with ADT – the #1 national leader in security!

Once the introductory remarks concluded, Holly introduced guest speakers Adam Basma and Yeaharne Hout, student interns with the DifferenceMaker program. Yeaharne explained how DifferenceMaker supports all students’ ideas, the free resources that are offered, and provided examples of past student DifferenceMaker teams. Adam concluded the presentation by providing information about the $50,000 Idea Challenge and the exciting events occurring this semester.

Student interns Adam Basma and Yeaharne Hout presenting about the DifferenceMaker program and the upcoming events this semester.

Following their presentation, two additional guest speakers, previous DifferenceMaker teams, spoke about their real-life experiences with the program and how it has helped develop their startups. Michelle Mailloux, co-founder of Ambulatory Innovations, won 2019 Honorable Mention at the $50,000 Idea Challenge; a $2,000 award.

Since then, Ambulatory Innovations has won a variety of other competitions (such as Beantown Throwdown where they won against Boston-based schools like Harvard, Northeastern, and Boston College), raised over $25,000 in additional funding, filed a patent, and worked with the UMass Lowell NERVE Center and Innovation Hub to develop prototypes of their product. To learn more about Ambulatory Innovations, please visit their website: https://www.ambulatoryinnovations.com/

Michelle Mailloux, co-founder of Ambulatory Innovations, presenting the many resources her team gained while participating in DifferenceMaker, as well as their successes since winning.

Edward Morante, partner of Benji Ball, 2019 Rist Campus-wide DifferenceMaker (a $7,000 award), spoke shortly after. He spoke about the helpful mentorship and networking opportunities that his team received after winning the Idea Challenge, such as meeting helpful mentors and advisors that they would not have met otherwise. The team is currently looking for a reliable manufacturer to create and ship their product to families and schools across the country! To learn more about Benji Ball, please visit their website: https://benjiballforall.com/

After the presentations, Holly facilitated a Q&A with all participants. Students asked a variety of questions – the real-life DifferenceMaker team presentations helped excite them to pursue their own ideas!

Next, Faculty Fellows Dr. Brent Shell, from the Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences, and Dr. Neil Shortland, from Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, introduced the Idea Hack activity. Then, student participants and faculty mentors dispersed into Zoom breakout rooms to discuss problems, solutions, and creative ideas.

After the breakout room activity, students were encouraged to share their ideas with all event participants. Ideas ranged from supporting international students during university semester breaks, to engineering plankton species to help collect waste from oceans. All ideas were very creative and innovative!

To conclude the event, Holly provided next steps for the students, which included applying to the upcoming $50,000 Idea Challenge (deadline Feb. 12) and registering for the 4-part workshop series which is taking place in February and March. The workshops are designed to help students develop their ideas, build-up their teams, and much more.

Don’t forget to apply for the $50,000 Idea Challenge before February 12 at 5 p.m.: www.uml.edu/ideachallengeapp

Please register for Workshop 1: Identifying Problems – February 18 from 5:30 – 7 p.m. via Zoom. Register at www.uml.edu/2021DMWorkshop1

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2020 DifferenceMaker® Engineering Prototyping Competition Finals

On December 3rd, 2020, the DifferenceMaker® Engineering Prototyping Competition Finals took place!

Associate Dean Kavitha Chandra opened this event with welcoming remarks and kicked-off the evening.

A huge thank you to all finalist judges:

– Chad LaFrance – ’92 Francis College of Engineering, Director of Texas Instruments

– Mark Saab – ’81,’13 (H) Francis College of Engineering, Founding Trustee, Saab Family Foundation

– Ram Sudireddy – ’92 Francis College of Engineering and Kennedy College of Sciences, CEO and Co-Founder of Bento

– Manijeh Goldberg – ’82, ’84 Francis College of Engineering and Kennedy College of Sciences, CEO and Founder of Privo Technologies Inc

– Jack Wilson – President Emeritus UMass System and Distinguished Professor of Higher Education, Emerging Technologies, and Innovation, University of Massachusetts Lowell

And, a huge thank you to all Preliminary Round judges:

– Rich Caruso – ‘73 Francis College of Engineering

– Loretta Doughty – ‘88 Francis College of Engineering

– Steve Geyster – ‘83 Francis College of Engineering

– Paul Makris – ’91 Francis College of Engineering

– Chris McKenna – ‘89 Francis College of Engineering

– Christine Mizioch – ‘91 Francis College of Engineering

– Chris Olson – ‘88 Francis College of Engineering

– Natalie Olson – ‘88 College of Fine Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

– Bhupen Shah – ‘92 Francis College of Engineering

– Marc Thomas – ’82 Francis College of Engineering

– Rob Valiton – ‘86 Francis College of Engineering

After the opening remarks, one finalist student team was announced to pitch their idea. Out of all 17 Preliminary Round presentations, five were chosen by the preliminary judges to pitch their ideas. None of the teams knew if they were chosen beforehand – allowing for extra excitement to hear who was pitching for the evening!

Each student team was given 5 minutes to pitch, followed by five-minutes of judge Q&A. The ideas were innovative and life-changing. For example, creating a pill container shaped as an apple to appeal to children, teaching women in developing countries how to create their own feminine pads, creating a knee brace where you can track the healing process through your phone, and more.

Once all the student teams were given the chance to pitch their idea and answer the judges’ questions, it was time for the judge deliberation. All judges were put into a separate Zoom meeting to discuss who the top three winners of the evening were.

Congratulations to all finalist teams!

1st place – $2,500 – Connect Knee A knee brace that incorporates the use of EMG censors and goniometers to track and record a patient’s recovery, making it more efficient and hands on.

Team Members: Jackson Kelley, Tiffany Miller, Alyssa Mulry

2nd place – $1,500 – FEMME New era of affordable menstruation pads for developing countries that are non-toxic to the environment and to the human body.

Team Members: Joanna Chase, Kristin Kihara, Massanica Mom, Skylar Murph

3rd place – S1,000 –Strip Away the Backlog Low-cost rape test kit using ELISA in an effort to end the backlog of rape test kits in the U.S.A.

Team Members: Victoria Acosta Diaz, Emily Doherty, Ariel Dulaney, Madison Merrill

Honorable Mention – An Apple A Day Apple shaped pill containers that appeal to children, allowing them to enjoy taking their daily medications.

Team Members: Param Patel, Emily Philpot, Jack Ryan

Honorable Mention – Wonder Wheel An affordable wheelchair power assist technology.

Team Members: Alexander Hoefer, Sanskriti Sharma

Before this evening, there was a crowd voting session. To see all teams’ presentations, check out the DifferenceMaker YouTube Channel here. Everyone who registered for this event was given a chance to vote for their three favorite teams, and the team with the most votes was given the Crowd Favorite award for the evening.

The Crowd Favorite team was team Terminus! They pitched the wonderful idea of being able to grow fresh fruits and vegetables on planets such as Mars and won an additional $500. After this announcement, Provost Hartman gave some closing remarks to end the event.

Congratulations to all teams and thank you to everyone who attended this event and made it a success! We welcome anyone with an idea to enter the Spring 2021 $50,000 Idea Challenge. The application is now open, and will close on February 12. Apply today!

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2020 DifferenceMaker® DCU Manning Innovation Contest Finals

On December 3, 2020, DifferenceMaker held its’ DCU Manning Innovation Contest Finals. At this event, six student finalist teams pitched their ideas to solve problems related to banking and finance.

The event opened up with welcoming remarks from Sandra Richtermeyer, Dean of the Manning School of Business. She then introduced Thomaz De Moura, Innovations Manager at Digital Federal Credit Union, who also said some opening words.

After the welcome, the judges for the evening were introduced. The judges for the evening were:

  • Andrew Knaebel, Director of Information Systems Infastructure, DCU
  • Sandesh Parulekar, Director of Information Systems Development, DCU
  • Barbara Russel, Co-Founder/Managing Partner, Cap W
  • Joseph Vaillancourt, ’90, ’01, Manning School of Business, Managing Partner of Venture Enterprises, LLC and the President of Cyclyx International, Inc

After the judges were introduced, the show began! Six student finalist teams each pitched their idea, followed by a five-minute judge Q&A session. The teams that presented were:

  • Borrowed Pay Cut, Kevin Zhang
  • Cash Transfer, Aiman Baig, Abhi Kiran, Danny Nguyen, Fazil Soharwardi, Haris Waqar
  • Millennial Finance Educators, Amy Michelin, Craig Williams
  • Paper Trail, Yeaharne Hout, Edward Morante
  • SearchIn, Md Sadman Islan
  • Track It, Yuhan Sung

All teams shared amazing and creative ideas. They ranged from educating young adults on how to be financially free, creating an app that teaches people about financial education with the ability to earn cash, bank to member transfers, and more.

Once all the teams shared their ideas and answered follow-up questions from the judges, it was time for the judges to decide the first-place winner. Each finalist team earned $100 per member as a prize, and the top finalist team earned $500 per member. The judges broke out into a separate breakout room to deliberate.

While the judges were deliberating, Dean Richtermeyer encouraged the student teams to network on platforms such as LinkedIn. This was a great way to make new connections – virtually!

When the judges came back from their deliberation room, the first-place finalist winner was announced! The top finalist for the night was team Millennial Finance Educators. They pitched the amazing idea of the Financial Freedom Program. This program would teach teenagers and young adults about financial literacy, allowing them to develop good habits that will lead them towards financial independence in their futures.

A total of $2,200 was awarded to student teams!

Congratulations to all student teams that made it as a finalist for this competition! We encourage you to apply for the DifferenceMaker Spring 2021 $50,000 Idea Challenge. This challenge is open to students of all majors, with ideas about any topic. The application is open now and will close on February 12, 2020. Apply here.

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2020 DifferenceMaker® Kennedy College of Sciences COVID-19 Idea Hack

On Tuesday, November 10, The Kennedy College of Sciences and DifferenceMaker hosted the first COVID-19 Idea Hack Event with 87 registered participants!

The event kicked off with an overview about the DifferenceMaker program, presented by Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Program Director. Fred Martin, Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Undergraduate Studies and Professor in the Kennedy College of Sciences, along with Tom Wilkes, Professor in the Kennedy College of Sciences and DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow, said opening remarks to the virtual crowd.

Noureddine Melikechi, Dean of the Kennedy College of Sciences, welcomed the participants and spoke about the event in more detail.

Then, there were informative presentations given by expert researchers in the Kennedy College of Sciences. Michael Graves, Professor and Associate Chair, Department of Biology, provided a presentation about the issues with viruses, specifically focusing on Coronaviruses. The next presentation was given by Emo Sajo, Professor, Director, Medical Physics, where he spoke about how viruses spread. Susanna Remold, Professor and Department Chair of Biological Science, spoke about the process of research and problem solving, by providing an example about the late 1960’s when the compound Triclosan (antibacterial component) was developed.

Professor Michael Graves presenting the challenges related to Coronaviruses.

After learning about the problems related to Covid-19 and viruses, Tom Wilkes introduced the Ideation Activity. This activity allowed students and faculty to network in breakout rooms, while being able to think of their own problems and solutions related to the pandemic. Some of the ideas proposed were about how there is no treatment for this disease, how people are not following the CDC guidelines, how the spread has spikes in cases, and how it disrupted the processes of the economy and many industries.

After the problems were brainstormed, each group discussed possible solutions to the problems, as well as appropriate hypothesis for them. Once all the teams had a chance to discuss, the groups were brought back into the main event room.

Fred Martin facilitated the activity debrief, and each group got the chance to present their proposed solution to their defined COVID-19 problem. Each team shared creative ideas, such as using scorpion venom as a treatment and developed educational platforms about COVID-19.

Student teams presenting their problems and solutions to the crowd after the Ideation Activity.

Once every team had a chance to present, Dean Melikechi and Holly Butler provided a Q&A and closing remarks. Holly mentioned a “Call to Action” for all student participants – attending the upcoming final college competition events (the DCU Manning Innovation Contest Finals and the Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Finals), and how to apply to the 2021 DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge which opens on Dec. 1.

Thank you to everyone who attended this event! And, a special thank you for the Kennedy College of Sciences and all Ideation Activity Room Facilitators:

Victor Alcantara, Senior, Fine Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences, DifferenceMaker Intern

Adam Basma, Junior, Manning School of Business, DifferenceMaker Intern

Iman Chahine, College of Education

Mazen El Ghaziri, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences

Michael Graves, Professor, Associate Chair, Department of Biology, Kennedy College of Sciences

Yeaharne Hout, Junior, Manning School of Business, DifferenceMaker Intern

Mark Hsu, College of Education

Carter Keough, Francis College of Engineering

Cathy Levey, College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Fred Martin, Professor, Computer Science, Associate Dean for Teaching, Learning, and Undergraduate Studies, Kennedy College of Sciences

Foozieh Mirderikvand, Coordinator, Undergraduate Programs, Kennedy College of Sciences

Noureddine Melikechi, Dean, Kennedy College of Sciences

Susanna Remold, Professor, Department Chair, Biological Science, Kennedy College of Sciences

Erno Sajo, Professor, Director, Medical Physics, Kennedy College of Sciences

Brent Shell, Zuckerberg College of Health Sciences

Neil Shortland, College of Fine Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Tom Wilkes, Kennedy College of Sciences

Kelilah Wolkowicz, Francis College of Engineering

Susan Young, Kennedy College of Sciences

We look forward to seeing you again in future DifferenceMaker activities like the 2021 $50,000 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge!

Questions? Send us an email at DifferenceMaker@uml.edu!

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2020 DifferenceMaker Kick-Off and College Competition Announcement

On Monday, September 21, from 5:30 – 7:30 pm, DifferenceMaker held its’ Annual Season Kick-Off and College Competition Announcement event! This event was held virtually via Zoom. Over 120 people registered, 88 of which were students interested in solving problems and making a difference in the world.

The event kicked-off with remarks from Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Program Director. Next, Joseph Hartman, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, welcomed the participants with inspiring words and success stories about previous DifferenceMaker teams. Then, guest speakers Adam Basma and Yeaharne Hout, two DifferenceMaker interns who have been part of the DifferenceMaker team for 3-years, presented an overview of the DifferenceMaker Program and fall events calendar.

Adam Basma, DifferenceMaker Intern, speaking about the opportunities that DifferenceMaker has to offer.

Then, the two College-Based Competitions taking place this semester were announced. Thomaz De Moura, Innovations Director at the Digital Federal Credit Union, announced the DCU/Manning School of Business Innovation Contest. Dr. Hunter Mack, Professor at the Francis College of Engineering and DifferenceMaker Faculty Fellow announced the Francis College of Engineering Competition. Both competitions are now open, and applications close on October 21st at 5 p.m. Apply today!

After the guest speakers, the fun, interactive ideation activity began. Students and faculty were divided into virtual breakout rooms to work together to solve problems.

This activity was composed of two parts – Part 1: identify a problem, research that problem, draw/build a representation of that problem, and present it; Part 2: develop a solution to that problem, research that proposed solution, draw/build a representation of that solution, and present it.

When all participants gathered in the main event session, students presented their problems and solutions to the crowd. The ideas were diverse and creative – ranging from solving the problem of food waste to solving problems around COVID-19, such as creating environmentally friendly, reusable, washable gloves. Some student participants even built prototypes with household goods!

Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Program Director, explaining the tasks for the Idea Development Exercise before groups were placed in their breakout rooms.

Thank you to everyone that attended this event!

Don’t forget to apply for the DCU/Manning School of Business Innovation Contest or the Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Contest! Applications are open from now until October 21st.

Interested in seeing the event? The event video is now live!

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2020 Boot Camp Speaker Series: invisaWear

On August 6, 2020, DifferenceMaker held its second Boot Camp speaker series session! Past DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge winners and guest speakers Rajia Abdelaziz and Ray Hamilton, co-founders of invisaWear, shared their tips on funding sources and strategies to the 2020 Idea Challenge Winners.

invisaWear won Innovative Technology Solution award, a $4,500 prize, at the 2016 Idea Challenge. Since then, they have grown their business tremendously and are making a meaningful impact on the world.

They have successfully launched their product, which are necklaces and charms that are stylish safety devices. On the back of their products, there are hidden buttons. When pressed, the button alerts up to five people and the police with a link to your GPS location and notification stating that you need help and are in an emergency situation. This product has already saved many lives, and has also been featured on television channels such as multiple news stations, ABC’s Good Morning America and the Rachael Ray show!

Rajia Abdelaziz and Ray Hamilton, co-founders of invisaWear, presenting their tips and advice when it comes to funding sources and strategies.

During their presentation, Rajia and Ray spoke about their experiences with receiving funding for their startup and gave advice to the current 2020 Idea Challenge student finalists about the options they have to obtain funding, with tips for strategies that will help them approach potential investors with confidence. They spoke about the hurdles they encountered, examples for future pitch competitions and accelerators, and funding strategies.

Rajia Abdelaziz and Ray Hamilton of invisaWear speaking about the different types of institutional investors.

When the presentation was over, Rajia and Ray answered questions from the student teams. The participants asked questions regarding how to approach friends/family when asking for investment, where to start when it comes to receiving funding, and how to stay inspired when competitors emerge.

DifferenceMaker would like to give a huge thank you to invisaWear for being guest speakers at the Boot Camp Speaker Series and for inspiring future entrepreneurs!

To learn more about invisaWear, please visit their website and social media platforms:

Website:
https://www.invisawear.com/

Email:
Rajia@invisaWear.com
Ray@invisaWear.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/invisaWear/

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/invisawear/

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/invisawear

Pinterest:
https://www.pinterest.com/invisawear/

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2020 Boot Camp Speaker Series: Ambulatory Innovations

On July 9, 2020, DifferenceMaker held its first Boot Camp speaker series session! Past DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge winners and guest speakers Katie Muise and Michelle Mallioux shared their experiences with pursuing their business, Ambulatory Innovations.

Ambulatory Innovations won Honorable Mention, a $2,000 award, at the 2019 $50K DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge. Since then, they have grown their business and improved their product, the C.A.T. Mat.

The C.A.T. Mat system is a modular set of one square foot mat pieces that simulate uneven outdoor terrains, therefore helping to improve gait training. Since 2019, Michelle, Katie, and their team have gone on to win other competitions and accolades, such as:

· 2020 MITEF Startup Spotlight Demo Day: 1st Place

· 2020 Venturewell E-Team Program Stage 1: $5,000

· 2020 EforAll Lowell/Lawrence: Finalist

· 2019 UMass Lowell Francis College of Engineering Prototyping Competition: Best Biomedical Device $1,500

· 2019 MIT Beantown Throwdown: 1st Place

· 2019 I-Corps Spark: Participant

· 2019 UMass Lowell DifferenceMaker Convocation Competition: 1st Place $1,500

· 2019 Foley and Lardner Legal Services: $5,000

· 2019 UMass Lowell DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge: Honorable Mention $2,000

Ha Pho, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Manager, introducing team Ambulatory Innovations and their product, the C.A.T. Mat.

During their presentation, Michelle and Katie spoke about their experiences with customer discovery and gave advice to the current 2020 Idea Challenge student finalists about how they can research and discover who their customers and users are. They spoke about the hurdles they encountered, tips for connecting with customers, and experiences they had at other competitions.

Michelle Mallioux and Katie Muise of Ambulatory Innovations answering questions during a Q&A with the 2020 Idea Challenge student finalists.

Towards the end of the session, Michelle and Katie answered questions from the student teams. The participants asked questions regarding how to manage a startup while being busy with work and school, how to find additional funding opportunities, and advice on speaking to potential customers. Katie and Michelle answered each question with lots of detail and clarity!

We would like to give a huge thank you to Ambulatory Innovations for being guest speakers at the Boot Camp Speaker Series and for inspiring future entrepreneurs!

To learn more about Ambulatory Innovations, please visit their website and social media platforms:

Website:
https://www.ambulatoryinnovations.com/

Email: info@ambulatoryinnovations.com

Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/ambulatoryinnovations

Instagram:
https://www.instagram.com/ambulatoryinnovations/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ambulatory-innovations/

Twitter:
https://twitter.com/ambinnovations

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2020 DifferenceMaker® Summer Bootcamp

On June 8, DifferenceMaker held it’s first (virtual) Summer Boot Camp session! The 2020 DifferenceMaker Idea Challenge winning teams will complete four Boot Camp sessions throughout the summer.

The goals of this Boot Camp are to increase the teams’ understanding of their customer segments, the value their ideas will provide, increase understanding of their business model, and more! This is done through various homework assignments, customer discovery interviews, research, videos, books, and individualized team sessions.

The first session started off with an introduction of what to expect for the summer. This included all ten teams, Holly Butler, Director, Ha Pho, Manager, and two guest speakers from Foley & Lardner, Chris McKenna, Partner and IP Lawyer and Alumni, Francis College of Engineering, and David Kantaros, Partner and business lawyer.

However, the following sessions will be individualized team meetings with DifferenceMaker staff and mentors, where feedback and advice on each project will be specific to each team.

Introductions featuring:
Holly Butler, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Director.
Ha Pho, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Manager.
Chris McKenna, Foley & Lardner.
David Kantaros, Foley & Lardner.

Ha led the first half of the session where she spoke about startups vs. companies, the business model canvas, customer discovery, and more. She also provided examples from previous DifferenceMaker teams such as the C.A.T. Mat, Invisawear, and Nonspec.

Ha Pho, Entrepreneurial Initiatives Project Manager, explaining each section of the Business Model Canvas.

The second half of the session was led by guest speakers Dave Kantaros and Chris McKenna, attorneys at Foley & Lardner. They spoke about company formation, types of entities, equity, and more. They also are providing teams with $15,000 of in-kind legal service prizes!

David Kantaros, Foley & Larder, presenting about company formation.

A huge thank you to David Kantaros and Chris McKenna for being guest speakers at this session’s Boot Camp and for sponsoring $15,000 in prizes.

Congratulations to all teams, and good luck with the rest of the summer Boot Camp!

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2020 DifferenceMaker $50,000 Idea Challenge

On April 15, from 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., DifferenceMaker held its 8th Annual $50,000 Idea Challenge!

From April 7-9, the DifferenceMaker Preliminary Pitch-off took place in a virtual format. The event engaged 27 student teams from all UMass Lowell academic colleges and over 25 alumni and community judges. These 27 teams were chosen from an initial pool of 62 team applications. On April 9, ten inspiring student teams were selected to move on and compete for a portion of $50,000 in funding at the Idea Challenge on April 15.

Due to COVID-19, the competition was held virtually. However, even with this hurdle, the event turned out to be a success! The event engaged over 105 attendees! Thank you to everyone who joined and made this possible. View a video of the Idea Challenge.

Thank you to all the judges for taking their time to attend the event and assist the student teams. You continue to help DifferenceMaker reach new heights.

Lorna Boucher, ‘86, Manning School of Business
Chief Marketing Officer, Instinet

Cindy Conde, ‘87, ‘91 Francis College of Engineering
CEO, CondeCo

Brian Rist ‘77, Manning School of Business
President and CEO, The Smart Companies

Jack M. Wilson
President Emeritus, UMass System and Distinguished Professor of Higher EducationEmerging Technologies, and Innovation, Umass Lowell

A huge thank you to the event sponsors who made this Idea Challenge possible:

• Circle Health

• Foley and Lardner, LLP

• Kim and Brian Rist ’77, Manning School of Business

• Andrew Sutherland ’94, Manning School of Business

• Jack Wilson Endowed Presidential Entrepreneurship Award Fund

CONGRATULATIONS to the 2020 winning student teams!

Rist Campus-Wide DifferenceMaker, $7,000

(sponsored by Kim and Brian Rist, ’77, Manning School of Business)

MyGrow Fabrix

“An innovative, functional, eco-friendly textile fabric for agricultural and horticultural means.”

Team members:

~ Benjamin Chaco, Alumni, UMass Amherst, Computer Engineering
~ Justin Simone, Graduate, Community Social Psychology
~ Robert Simone

Significant Social Impact, $4,000

YPG

“Eco-friendly clinical face masks to reduce harmful waste.”

Team members:
~ Paul-Joseph Blanchard, Plastics Engineering
~ Yeaharne Hout, Finance
~ Grace Truong, Nursing

Sutherland Innovative Technology Solution, $4,000

(sponsored by Andrew Sutherland, ’94, Manning School of Business)

Smart Escape

“An electrical system that operates as a dynamic building evacuation guide during a fire evacuation.”

Team Members:
~ Noah Boudreau, Freshman, Finance
~ Kevin Downing, High School
~ Benjamin St. Gelais, Freshman, Environmental Engineering
~ Kevin Healy, Freshman, Electrical Engineering 
~ Kevin Jeyakumar, Graduate, Computer Engineering
~ Alexander Meneses, Freshman, Finance
~ Andrew Regan, Freshman, Aerospace Engineering

Contribution to a Healthier Lifestyle, $4,000

(sponsored by Circle Health)

ConnectKnee

“A knee brace that incorporates the use of EMG sensors and goniometers to track and record a patient recovery, making it more efficient and hands on.”

Team members:
~ Kyle Hamblett
~ Connor Johnston
~ Jackson Kelley, Junior, Mechanical Engineering
~ Abby McNulty, Senior, Business Administration
~ Tiffany Miller, Junior, Biomedical Engineering
~ Alyssa Mulry, Junior, Biomedical Engineering
~ Jaime Waldron, Senior, Criminal Justice

Jack M. Wilson First Product to Market, $4,000

(sponsored by the Jack Wilson Endowed Presidential Entrepreneurship Award Fund)

Smart Safety Outlet

“An Internet-of-Things (IoT) connected outlet that can secure and lock in place for safety purposes.”

Team members:
~ Romeo Cayabyab, Alumni, Electrical Engineering
~ Dmitry Chichinov, Junior, Mechanical Engineering
~ Brian Cotter, Senior, Electrical Engineering
~ David Holdbrook-Smith, Senior, Electrical Engineering
~ Nassim Nabat, Junior, Business
~ Divyanshu Verma, Alumni, Electrical Engineering

Commitment to a Sustainable Environment, $4,000

MissionHydro

“A green household hydrogen energy storage ecosystem that will reduce household carbon footprint and energy costs, as well as, have the ability to utilize the hydrogen generated for fuel cell electric mobility applications.”

Team members:
~ Aadith Arasu, Freshman, Physics
~ Ryan Beishline, Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering
~ Sarvesh Handa, Freshman, Electrical Engineering
~ Ali Semerci, Freshman, Mechanical Engineering

Honorable Mentions, $2,000

AFED – Autonomous Foot Exercising Device

“A shoe insole that autonomously exercises foot muscles, thereby strengthening the foot’s arch and improving overall body posture.”

Team members:
~ Catia Goncalbes Rodrigues, Senior, Biomedical Engineering
~ Edwind Medina, Senior, Biomedical Engineering
~ Kazi Proma, Senior, Biomedical Engineering
~ Kamal Rai, Senior, Biomedical Engineering

Green Wall Project/Living Wall

“Installing vertical green walls on university campuses to reduce CO2 and particulate matter, and increase concentrations of oxygen in the air.”

Team members:
~ David Razmadze, Senior, Computer Science
~ Hannah West, Senior, Public Health major & Business minor

Happy Pinning

“A product that will help Indian women clip together their traditional clothing quickly, easily, and effortlessly.”

Team members:
~ Ankit Patel, Graduate, Finance & Marketing
~ Happyben Patel, Graduate, MBA
~ Fenil Patel, Junior, Mechanical Engineering
~ Kevin Zhang, Sophomore, Computer Science

NoSno Mat

“An affordable snow- and ice-melting mat that requires virtually no work compared to shoveling or snow blowing.”

Team members:
~ Ka-Shing Chan, Senior, Computer Science
~ Thinh Huynh, Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering
~ Michael Mitkov, Senior, Computer Science
~ Conrad Nelson, Junior, Chemical Engineering
~ Emily Philpot, Sophomore, Mechanical Engineering
~ Tatiana Tompkins, Junior, Economics

Thank you to everyone who makes DifferenceMaker a great success!

Questions? DifferenceMaker@uml.edu

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