2017 Student Product Innovation Competition

Sponsored by:

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


Once again, we are excited to announce our 2017 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 21st atThe Biotech Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina.


Key Dates:

  • Intent to submit – Friday, March 24th
  • Full submission – Wednesday, April 12th
  • Conference – Friday, April 21st


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 more get rid of more 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?

  • An opportunity to win a scholarship – we offer 1st and 2nd prize for both undergrad and grad
  • 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 2016 or Spring 2017 semesters.
  • Send your intent to submit by March 24th (see below requirements)
  • Complete your final, full submission by April 12th (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 24th with the subject line: 2017 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 April 12th, 2017


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 – Accelerating Ideas to Market

We’ll focus on the tools, cultural changes and methods to accelerate good ideas in the “front end” and how to bridge the gap between idea generation and product development, so that you can learn how to get the best ideas to market more rapidly.

Two important concepts include:

  • Speed up innovation up front, generating and evaluating more ideas more quickly and
  • How do we transfer new concepts from the front end to an organization – even if they are highly effective and adverse to risky unformed ideas?


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.