What is the Scripps Innovation Challenge?

By Deena Benkey


The definition of innovation is much more than what’s listed in the dictionary. Yes, innovation is stated as a new method, idea, or product. This type of new invention, however, may be collaborated with new technologies and platforms using various tools and applications. It raises the opportunity to think out of the box and win up to ten thousand dollars.

Managed by the Scripps College of Communication, Ohio University is offering their first year of the Scripps Innovation Challenge. This competition prospered from a three million dollar endowment for media innovation from the Scripps Howard Foundation. The Innovation Challenge stimulates students to compete and solve innovative problems in the media industry that have been posted by different companies, organizations, and professionals. Many of these companies are searching for innovative solutions on how to gain expansion with their audience and revenue.  All current Ohio University students, regardless of major, can compete for this challenge either individually or in teams. The Scripps Innovation Challenge is calling for intellectual, creative gurus to work, create a high quality solution, and go the extra mile to bring it to life!

This competition incorporates all aspects of social media that can be presented in a new platform. These companies are looking for new ideas that their company can grow from. This may include principles of gaming, geo-based media, interactive design, informational graphic, etc. that the young, professional contenders concoct. Marisa Dockum, Director of the Promotional Team, leading a team of eight, proclaimed, “The challenge is open to all Ohio University students. The challenges are posted by media companies  who have not already thought of an innovative solutions.  This challenge encourages all majors including engineering, business, finance, art, educations, and more to participate because an outside perspective or an outside mind is needed.”

A fellow teammate of Dockum, Cidnye Weimer, expresses, “Being a part of the Scripps Innovation Challenge has been a challenging yet rewarding experience at the same time. Since this is the first year, it has been somewhat hard to promote and get the word out there just because students haven’t really heard of it or don’t know what it is. Our job as the promotional team was to create and implement a marketing plan and decide how to target the school. Most of our promotions have been putting fliers all over campus as well as speaking in classrooms. Other things we have done have been hosting Q & A sessions, creating a Facebook and Twitter accounts and trying to spread awareness through Baker Slides, Coffee Sleeves and Avalanche Pizza boxes. 90% of the promotion of this event comes from our marketing team so this event really relies heavily on us, otherwise people will not participate and attend.”

There are 20 different challenges for prospects to compete. Better yet, there is no limit to how many challenges you can submit. Students may enter an idea; however, their idea should be as fully developed as possible. Each challenge addresses different deliverables that the participant is asked to solve. Some of the companies participating in the challenge are The Plain Dealer, The Columbus Dispatch, Radio One Inc.,Cleveland, WJW Fox8, Ogden Newspapers, Akron Beacon Journal, Knoxville News Sentinel, North American Broadcasting Company. WJW Fox8’s challenge for the competition is to “Make local news relevant for young TV viewers.” Other companies ask for students to design an app for their marketing strategy, draft a multi-media plan, and to create a downloadable daily podcast. A strong promoter of the challenge professes, “The challenge also has the potential to bring long-term benefits to the students.  For example, if a company really likes the solution a student created then that company could hire or pay the student extra to implement it.  This isn’t a for sure occurrence, but it is a possibility.”

Additional help for participants can be found by contacting the listed source of the challenge you have chosen. A contact person will be found at the bottom of the page. Further guidance will be available through the student Alden Library website. On the site there are listed links to aid with industry information, data, research, and polls, as well as marketing products and researching consumer outcomes. More assistance can be found by contacting “faculty mentors” who are volunteers of Ohio University’s faculty and staff. You can find all of this information on the Alden Research tab on the Scripps Innovation Challenge website.

Again, inspiring engineers, business majors, and all other individuals from assorted colleges are encourage to compete. Not only is this a unique opportunity to create an idea, broadcast it, and produce it, but academic credit may be awarded by individual school and departments of Ohio University. The pose question can be addressed and confirmed by your academic advisor or school’s director to see if you could use the challenge as possibly an independent study and receive credits.

Weimer provided a student perspective on the competition, “I think the Challenge is an awesome opportunity and even thought about participating myself. There really isn’t too much to lose by registering and participating because it is free of charge and there are over twenty problems that you can try and solve. Even if you don’t win, you are still gaining awesome experience! It’s a great opportunity to learn how to collaborate with others; for example, if you have a journalism major, engineering major and business major all working together to create the best outcome! This program is a good stepping stone into the “real world” and gives students the chance to develop real work and work with real clients. I think this is a positive thing for OU and everyone should definitely participate!”

If this challenge interest you, you still have time to enter the competition.  The deadline is March 13th, 2013. Students can register through the Scripps Innovation Challenge website, http://innovationchallenge.scrippscollege.ohio.edu. A requirement of basic information is requested and once you are registered, an account will be made for you where you will start receiving updates and alerts about the competition. Once you choose a challenge(s), be proficient in collecting data and research to produce a detailed plan to be implemented. Requirements consist of an evaluation of the business aspects of the solution, such as how much the project will cost to develop and implement, and the potential revenue prospect. Also needed for presentation will be a one page summary that describes your idea, a viewing presentation, and property statement certifying your rights to the material you submitted. The next step is to upload your developed solution to the site where it will be graded by a panel of media industry judges. The judges will choose ten finalists which will be announced during the Annual Scripps College Communication Week on March 18th. Andrew Alexander, coordinator of the challenge and a visiting professional at Scripps, explains what happens subsequently.

“On April 11, a panel of industry judges will select seven winners at the conclusion of a pitch competition that will be open to the public. The winner will receive $20,000 in prizes; $10,000 for first prize, $5,000 for second prize and five $1,000 honorable mentions. But the winners also will benefit because they will have been engaged in helping the media industry transform it self. That’s what makes the Scripps Innovation Challenge unique. It is designed so that students will be competing to solve actual problems, or “challenges,” presented by media companies.”

In terms of how the outcome of Scripps Innovation Challenge may affect Ohio University is best described by Alexander. “It’s part of a broader movement toward innovation and entrepreneurship at Ohio University.  There are two primary goals of the Scripps Innovation Challenge. The first is to get students involved in the process of media innovation. The second is to better connect the university and the media industry. All forms of media – print, broadcast, digital – are changing at an astonishing pace. It’s important that students are deeply engaged with this change, and they can help media companies as they are changing.”

Ohio University’s first year hosting the Scripps Innovation Challenge is a new learning experience with unknown, endless outcomes. This optimistic challenge has gotten OU students, faculty, and the community involved and excited to reveal the winners and award the twenty thousand dollars worth of prizes in the upcoming month.  Even more exciting is what will happen when the winner is chosen. Interested students make sure to apply, and if your not applying, you can still participate when the competition is open to the public. To apply and get more information on the Scripps Innovation Challenge visit http://innovationchallenge.scrippscollege.ohio.edu. The deadline is Wednesday, March 13th. Stay tuned and keep innovating!