2019 Student Innovation Competition

Sponsored by:

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) – Carolinas Chapter

Once again, we are excited to announce our 2019 student competition.  It is a highlight for our attendees and offers student innovators a networking forum to present their ideas and get feedback.  Our conference this year will be held on Friday, April 5th at the UNCC Center City in Charlotte, NC


Key Dates:

  • NEW! Two call in information sessions for prospective professors and student teams

    • Wednesday, February 23rd at 6 p.m. ET - Dial in: 888-549-3557 | Passcode: 7047156670

    • Tuesday, March 5th at 7 p.m. ET - Dial in: 888-549-3557 | Passcode: 7047156670

  • Intent to submit - Friday, March 15th

  • Full submission – Wednesday, March 27th

  • Conference – Friday, April 5th


Who can participate?

  • Any student – we offer two paths, one for undergraduate and graduate students.

  • Historically, we have had submissions from engineering or business students – BUT – we encourage students from other disciplines. Have a new wearable device that can help prevent medical issues? What about a transportation tool to help reduce the number of cars on the road? Can we use music or arts to help solve a social issue?

  • Do you have an idea for the next new social app? What about an accessibility tool or product? How about something that solves a problem for you or someone you know? The only limitation is your imagination.


What’s in it for you?

  • Invitation to present ideas at the 2019 National Conference (Orlando, FL October 2019)

  • An opportunity to win a scholarship - we offer 1st and 2nd place prizes for both undergrad and graduate teams

  • Practice presenting your product idea

  • Receive feedback from leaders in the innovation space

  • Conference admission and networking opportunity with those in the business


What do I need to do to participate?

  • Identify your idea or product. Product concept developed during Fall 2018 or Spring 2019 semesters.

  • Send your intent to submit by March 15th (see below requirements)

  • Complete your final, full submission by March 27th (see below requirements)


Intent to Submit

  • A one page summary of your service, product, social innovation, etc.

  • Team name, team member’s names and contact information (email and phone number), graduate or undergraduate level and university name. If one or more of the team members are graduate level, please enter as a graduate team

  • Name and contact information of the university professor(s) either teaching the product design class (if class project) or supervising the work (if independent study)

  • Email to Cheryl Jacobs (Cheryl.jacobs@wellsfargo.com) by Friday, March 15th with the subject line: 2019 Student Competition


Full Submission

  • One document (PDF) with the team name, product or service name, name and contact information of all team members, team category (graduate or undergraduate), university name, and name and contact information of sponsoring professor. This document will remain with the competition coordinator.

  • A separate document (PDF) with the full submission containing all details of the new product concept. This document will be distributed to a team of judges. The team members’ names or university affiliation should not appear in this submission document.

  • Typical submissions are anywhere from 4-7 pages of well thought and structured information pertaining to the Scoring Criteria listed below. Submissions that do not address each of the scoring criteria will not be judged.

  • Email to Cheryl Jacobs (Cheryl.jacobs@wellsfargo.com) by March 27th, 2019 with the subject line: 2019 Student Competition


Posters (optional but encouraged if you’re at the conference)

  • Create a poster (not more than 60”X36”) that highlights main aspects of the product design

  • Bring a solid backing on which to mount your poster (e.g., cardboard, foam-core, etc.)

  • One team member needs to be available and able to explain the poster contents during the conference


Scoring Criteria

By the PDMA definition: “Products are bundles of attributes (features, functions, benefits, and uses) and can be either tangible, as in the case of physical goods, or intangible, as in the case of those associated with service benefits, or can be a combination of the two.” Submissions may be of a product, a service, or a combination of the two. Submissions will be judged on five criteria.  Ideas previously submitted to the student competition will not be accepted.


1.            Product Concept. Clarity of the definition of the proposed new product and its capabilities through written descriptions, drawings, prototypes, etc.

2.            Innovation. Is the product new to the world or an incremental innovation? Uniqueness? Social benefit? Will its production and sale help or harm society and the environment?

3.            Behavior Change.  What are the observable behaviors of the intended audience that most need to change and how do you see your offering impacting those behaviors?

4.            Value. What is the value to the customer? How will they use it? Any customer research to support the product's claims?  What emotional connections can your product make to its intended users?

5.            Market. What is the size of the market? Expected sales on a yearly basis? Cost to produce? Price? Profits?

6.            Promotion. What are the sales channels? How will it be marketed and promoted?  If this is not a product, how will the idea for change reach its audience

Conference Theme - Innovation and Digital Transformation: Partners, Neighbors or Frenemies? This is our 10th anniversary conference event.

The 2019 conference celebrates our 10th Innovate Carolina conference. But rather than looking back, this year, we will focus on emerging ideas and technologies and how they might impact the future of innovation over the next 10 years. How do these two important strategic initiatives work together to help companies achieve more or how may they end up in conflict? Does digital transformation make innovation easier? Does a deep focus on digital transformation make innovation more difficult?

Our speakers will represent both large and small organizations, as well as consultants and experts in how innovation and digital transformation influence the other.

What is Innovate Carolina?

Innovate Carolina is an annual conference held in North Carolina, focused on innovation and new product development.  Innovate Carolina is sponsored by the Carolinas chapter of the Product Development Management Association (PDMA), an association focused on improving the skills and capabilities of its members in product development, product management and innovation.

Each year the Carolinas Chapter holds a one day innovation conference, featuring local corporations and service providers who are leaders in the innovation and product development space.  The conference is an excellent opportunity to learn new techniques or tools and network with other product development and innovation practitioners.


For more information:

Contact: Cheryl Jacobs, VP of Academic Affairs at cheryl.jacobs@wellsfargo.com.