Student Innovation Challenge

Become a University of Arizona inventor!
Up to $50,000 in project funding will be awarded.

Application deadline: October 12, 2020.

Join us for an informational webinar at noon on September 29, 2020: 

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Do you have a great idea for an invention but don’t know where to start? Puzzled by the challenges and costs of taking an idea from a concept to something tangible or to a finished product?

Here's your chance to bring your vision to life by leveraging university resources, funding, and expertise that are typically only available to university employees.

The Tech Launch Arizona (TLA) Student Innovation Challenge is an idea-stage competitive challenge designed to encourage UArizona students – both undergraduate and graduate – to propose and develop solutions to real-world problems. The program is an opportunity to partner with the university to take novel ideas to the next level where they can create real-world impact.

Winners will be announced on October 30, just in time for Halloween!

Get Started Now!

Working individually or in teams, students identify a problem and suggest solutions from hardware prototypes to mobile applications or any software applications. The possibilities are endless. Students will then propose both the perceived challenge and the potential solution to address the unmet needs in a variety of sectors including global health, mechanical and electrical engineering, optical sciences, water, energy, agriculture and more.

TLA will partner with selected teams, awarding a total of up to $50,000 to be divided up between projects with the most promising ideas (see assignment requirements under Eligibility. Terms & Conditions). Awards per project will be based on the funding requests and the discretion of TLA to maximize the number of ideas or projects funded.  

Funded teams will receive mentoring from TLA experts to help flesh out their ideas, walk through the commercialization process and learn what it takes to take an idea from the bench to the market.

Following completion of the project, all stakeholders meet to discuss outcomes, ensure a thorough understanding of the commercialization factors and, if appropriate, identify next steps, including additional resources to prepare the technology for commercialization. If desired, the teams will have an opportunity to further their invention through additional TLA services, such as the NSF I-Corps program which focuses on customer discovery, access to further funding, and venture development experts and resources.

A Focus on Impactful Ideas

All impactful invention ideas are welcome! Potential areas of focus could be:

  • Solutions directed to resolving challenges faced by Hispanic and Native American communities.
  • Digital health and wellness remedies to tackle unmet medical needs.
  • Public health solutions targeted to address infectious diseases, in particular COVID-19.
  • ...Or any solutions to problems you come up with on your own!

Learn more: Read about the students who were selected through our first Student Innovation Challenge. >>

All the Benefits of Being a UArizona Inventor

If your invention is selected for funding (and project IP is assigned to UArizona as required under the Eligibility, Terms and Conditions), you’ll enjoy the same benefits as any UArizona inventor, including access to the full range of Tech Launch Arizona services, including:

  • Mentoring from in-house experts and connections to domain experts through TLA’s extensive network
  • Professional patent and market landscape assessments
  • Intellectual property protection, including patents and copyright at no cost to you
  • Access to further funding for technology development (see Asset Development)
  • Services to market the invention to potential licensees and/or startups
  • Support for forming and educating startup teams (also see I-Corps)
  • Support for negotiating appropriate agreements (Confidentiality, licenses and etc.)
  • Royalty sharing per the UArizona Royalty Distribution policy (See "How are royalties distributed?" on the TLA Commercialization FAQ.)


How To Enter

To enter the Challenge, complete the application form linked below. Considerations include:

A description of the project and desired outcomes.

Potential markets and projected customers.

Explicit differentiation from existing solutions.

Approximate cost and timeline to achieve solution. 

Download the application form and submission instructions

Eligibility, Terms & Conditions

  • Application must be submitted by OCTOBER 12, 2020 at 5:00 PM MST.
  • Full-time, part-time, or online UArizona undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply.
  • Individual(s) or team(s) may apply. Team submissions are encouraged. There is no limit on team size. Along with students, teams may include UArizona staff, researchers, faculty and staff.
  • Application should propose an innovative solution to a social, environmental, health or other challenge facing society.
  • Proposal idea/invention is not yet licensed or otherwise obligated to a third party.
  • Award may be divided into milestones with incremental funding awarded as milestones are met or otherwise adjusted based on reviewing feedback and at TLA discretion.
  • Assessing projects for awards involves bringing technologies to TLA's team of professionals and domain experts (both internal and community), and identifying potential opportunities as well as pitfalls.
  • Following assessment of projects, some teams may receive feedback to help better formulate the scope of work and may require revisions at TLA’s discretion.
  • As a condition of receiving an award, all members of teams receiving an award will be required to assign (and hereby do assign) to the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) all rights, title, and interest in any intellectual property (IP) arising from awarded projects.
  • Projects must be completed within six (6) months.
  • Awardees will be invited to present their results and final outcomes to TLA and select group of partners.
  • Eligibility, Terms & Conditions are subject to change.

How Projects Are Evaluated

  • Teams must include a UArizona undergraduate or graduate student.
  • All team members must meet all eligibility, terms and conditions.
  • Results should be achievable within six (6) months.
  • Projects must address a clear challenge.
  • Solution should result in a minimal viable product.
  • Funds may be used for customer discovery, prototype design and outsourcing of services. Other uses will be considered.
  • Internal TLA experts will evaluate submissions and make final award determinations with input from external domain experts as needed.

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