EAST LANSING — Last week, the Lansing-based Prima Civitas Foundation recognized the winners of its recent 2012 Young Innovators Competition by distributing more than $10,000 in cash prizes at an awards ceremony in East Lansing. In addition to the awards, PCF will also work with students to locate local resources for nurturing and launching their innovative ideas.
The fourth annual competition, conducted under PCF’s C.S. Mott Foundation funded Moving Ideas to Market entrepreneurship Initiative, challenged 6th – 12th grade students in Michigan to submit business ideas for new products, solution-focused ideas, and mobile applications.
The competition’s Grand Prize award of $2,500 went to Robin Miller, Robert Proctor, Parker Ottarson, Caroline Rising, Erin Rubeck, Katy Shoecraft, Matthew Suandi, Lauren VanStreain, Erin Wenk, Stephen Wardell, and Julie Xu from Williamston High School with their life-saving rip current alert system called the Offshore Rip Current Alert (ORCA) system. Other winners submitted ideas that ranged from food pantry apps to water purification devices and represented a wide geographic range of Michigan cities that included Ann Arbor, Detroit, Dewitt, Dexter, Flint, Grand Ledge, Holt, Lansing, Muskegon, Perry, Traverse City, and Williamston.
Twelve volunteer judges with entrepreneurial support, economic development, and technology expertise evaluated more than 100 submissions from nearly 220 Michigan students, triple the participation from previous years’ competitions.
Steven Bennett, vice president for innovation and region building at PCF, credits the increase in participation as a result of expanding competition guidelines to allow team collaborations and multi-format submission opportunities.
“The increase in submissions shows that Michigan teens have very innovative ideas for new products or social solutions, and by expanding the competition guidelines we were able to give these students an opportunity to share their visions in ways they felt comfortable,” notes Bennett.
Many students chose to submit ideas utilizing online tools such as Prezi presentations and YouTube videos; others chose to submit through more traditional methods of PowerPoint presentations and written business plans.
The Foundation has begun planning its 2013 Youth Competition and hopes to see participation from more school districts in the state.
“We’re already getting questions on when the competition will be held in 2013,” explains Bennett. “We want to expand our outreach methods and leverage partner networks to ensure that every Michigan student has an opportunity to participate.”
A full list of winners, idea submissions, and names of judges are available at http://bit.ly/10NLDBa. For more information on the 2012 Young Innovators Competition, please visit  http://bit.ly/NmsT5r.
The Prima Civitas Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to the creation of a new, prosperous, and sustainable economic future for Michigan. More at www.primacivitas.org.


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