Students, teams propose ideas in WCU competition

Undergraduate students at Western Carolina University are sharing their innovative product, process and service ideas in a competition that began Wednesday, Sept. 5.

The WISE Challenge—which stands for Western’s Innovative Student Enterprise Challenge—pairs teams of interested students with experienced mentors to research and further develop the ideas, present them for funding and compete for prizes.

Ideas will be judged upon originality, value potential, patentability and feasibility. Prizes will include cash, books, internships, travel expenses to conferences, legal fee expenses for provisional patents and access to commercialization services, said Jon Snover, an organizer of the challenge and director of WCU’s graduate program in science and entrepreneurship.

“We interact every day with products and processes, and there’s always room for improvement,” said Snover. “You don’t have to be a chemist or a businessperson to see an opportunity for change.”

The WISE Challenge began Sept. 5 as student teams met at Club Illusions in the A.K. Hinds University Center to propose their ideas and be divided into teams. The teams will have until Friday, Nov. 2, to develop their ideas and present pre-proposals. The top 10 contenders will be announced on Friday, Nov. 16, and the winning team will be announced mid-March.

The competition is sponsored by Western’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Center for Rapid Product Realization, the Master’s of Science in Entrepreneurship Program and the Technology Transfer Office.

For more information, contact the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at (828) 227-3798 or e-mail