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UAF’s 2013 Arctic Innovation Competition in Fifth Year

The University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Management recently hosted its fifth Arctic Innovation Competition at the Wood Center on the UAF Campus.

Competitors from Alaska, the Lower 48, Canada--even Egypt and Indonesia--submitted 327 ideas this year. An interdisciplinary team led by UAF's MBA students sifted through and whittled down the submissions to 27 finalists.

Tammy Tragis-McCook, director of development and outreach at the School of Management, explained how the school’s students benefit from the event.

“The MBA students are deeply involved in the Arctic Innovation Competition screening process. They learn about technology, engineering, business, marketing and what it takes to get an idea to the consumer. We also have students who work on organizing the Arctic Innovation Competition full-time.   They’re learning about event management, delegation, people skills, organization skills and problem solving skills; these are skills you don’t necessarily acquire in the classroom,” she said.

UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers summed up the competition’s success like this:

“It started in 2008 as a great idea by a faculty member that has really grown, drawing out innovators from all over the state…and beyond. It’s this kind of entrepreneurial spirit we’re seeing here, that will help to shape Alaska’s future."

The faculty member Chancellor Rogers was referring to is Dr. Ping Lan, professor of business administration. It was his vision in 2008 to create an innovation competition that would benefit both innovators and students at the School of Management. He recognizes that the Arctic Innovation Competition, like technology, is changing at a rapid pace.

“The Arctic Innovation Competition is definitely evolving. We recognize that it’s not enough to have a great original idea…you also need to put in a lot of effort to get the idea to the market place. That is where we believe the UAF School of Business Management can play a key role, helping innovators bring their ideas to the marketplace.”

Northrim Bank is one of the Arctic Innovation Competition’s founding sponsors. Joe Beedle, chief executive officer of Northrim, highlighted the value of the competition in terms of its economic potential.

“Northrim has historically been involved in what we call business plan competitions; students would create business plans, bankers would judge them and then present awards for the top competitors. And we still do that," he said. "The uniqueness of the Arctic Innovation Competition is that it brings the practical applications of innovation and design together to create a product. The end result is something you can actually see, feel, touch and use. This competition takes the model to the next level, beyond a business plan to a prototype; and that’s exciting.”

Mickey Renkert is the 2013 winner of the Arctic Innovation Competition. The Colorado inventor developed a tape dispenser--the Tape Boss--that caught the eyes of the judges. Renkert’s invention filled a number of commercial and individual consumer painting and caulking needs. When he got to the podium to receive his award, he took a moment to thank the organizers for creating a level playing field for innovation.  

“The acknowledgement of winning this event is amazing and it feels good, but none of it would be possible without a competition like this. Just about every competition you look at nationally has some kind of strings attached. I really appreciate the fact that all of us (competitors) were given a chance to compete, no strings, in order to show our innovations, and maybe win some cash to help keep our innovations moving forward. I sincerely thank you for that,” Renkert said.

Two national manufacturers are evaluating Renkert's Tape Boss for its potential in the marketplace. He’s hoping to have his innovation available to the public in time for the holiday season.

This year’s Top 20 Arctic Innovation Competition Finalists:

Mickey Renkeort –Tape Boss                    1st Place Winner, Colorado            $10,000

Brian McKinnon – Alumaski                     2nd Place Winner, Alaska              $ 5,000

Mark Gunkel – Spot on Bow Sight           3rd Place Winner,  Alaska              $ 3,000

Rick Patton – Food/Smoke Adaptor         4th Place Winner, Idaho                $ 1,000

Travis Blackman – Tooth-Mounted, Rechargeable, Audiovisual Camera (Trav-Cam)

Kan Cheng – Fuel-Air Hybrid Engine

Tonie Mbuik – 2 in 1 Oral Cleaner

Robert & Sharon Sjordal – Firewood Chopping Table

Robert Steven Downer – Metroknob - Electric Guitar Knob

Daniel Peters – Remote Wall Insulating Panels

Mitchell Davidson – Follow the Leader - GPS Hat

Ryan Williams-Cudo – Northslope Pykrete Ice Roads

Jason Edwards – Wheelchair Retractable Studs

Amy Jenson – Safe and Sound

Les Kalman – Fluoridated Beeswax: Honeyflo

Charles Russell – Visual Fuel-Sump for Checking Water Contamination

Tara Rystad – Adjustable Setting Block for Glass Work

Theo Graber – The Delta-T Wood Stove Generator

Jon Christensen – Cargo Keeper - A Useful Pickup Tonneau

Terry Hope – Solarcross e-bike

(All of the adult finishers who were not top four winners received $100 for being in the top 20)

This year’s Top Seven Junior Arctic Competition Finalists were:

Nathaniel Cook – Heart Monitoring Shooting Glass               1st Place Winner,  Alaska   $500

Garrick Oberndorfer - Adjustable Keel Leveler                       2nd Place Winner, Alaska   $300    

Luther Jenson – Removable Felt Shoes                                 3rd Place Winner, Alaska   $200                 

Gavin McGahan & Jaden Gollwitze – Inhaler Holster

Lewis Enterkin – Roller Skate Mops

Sourav Kumar Chanda – Street Light Management System

Madi Hrinko & Layla Houston – Stroller-Vac

(All of the junior finishers who were not top three winners received $25 for being in the top 7)

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