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UMD and Tavis Smiley Launch 75k Innovation Challenge

July 12, 2013
Contacts: 

Ted Knight, UMD, 301-405-3596
Jessita Usher, Tavis Talks, 323-290-4690

The University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, in partnership with broadcaster Tavis Smiley, will launch a $75,000 TS/UM Social Innovation Challenge to help address some of society's most pressing issues in three key areas: hunger, education and sustainability.  COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The University of Maryland's A. James Clark School of Engineering, in partnership with broadcaster Tavis Smiley, will launch a $75,000 TS/UM Social Innovation Challenge to help address some of society's most pressing issues in three key areas: hunger, education and sustainability. 

The inaugural TS/UM Social Innovation Challenge invites aspiring entrepreneurs to develop transformative solutions to affect positive change for individuals and communities across the nation.  The Challenge serves as a prompt for diverse groups of people to come together to solve specific societal issues by harnessing inventiveness and bringing innovative ideas to the marketplace.

Submissions will be evaluated by a panel comprised of representatives from academia, business, community/grassroots, government, nonprofit groups and the technology community.  The winners will be announced in January 2014.

The TS/UM Social Innovation Challenge supports UMD's commitment to increase the number and quality of new businesses inspired by competition to create a large and strong new generation of entrepreneurs who benefit society.

"I believe that competitions are crucial to create a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship, and for driving new advances in targeted social areas," says Darryl Pines, dean and Nariman Farvardin Professor of aerospace engineering at the Clark School. "The future economic growth and competitiveness of the United States depends on our capacity to innovate."

"Solutions to the many daunting problems facing the United States and the global community will come from a diversity of thinking in the areas of science, engineering and technology," says Smiley. "I can think of no better way to invest in our collective well being than to invest in the minds of the future." Smiley is host and managing editor of the nightly talk show Tavis Smiley on PBS, host of The Tavis Smiley Show and co-host of Smiley & West from Public Radio International.

The TS/UM Social Innovation Challenge will award a minimum of $25,000 each to three social innovators, one in each of the target impact areas of hunger, sustainability and education.  Additionally, each winning entrant will have an opportunity to appear on the Tavis Smiley Network, receive an entrepreneur mentorship at the Clark School's Maryland Technology Enterprise Institute (Mtech), and showcase their innovation at Platform Summit 2014.

UMD is ranked as one the nation's top schools for innovation and entrpreneurship, including a #14 ranking in the Princeton Review and Entrepreneur Magazine's Top Colleges for Entrepreneurship in 2012. The university also recently launched the Academy for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, a signature initiative to infuse the university with a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship across all colleges, building on the institution's excellence as a research university.

For more information about the Challenge, visit www.tavistalks.com/socialinnovator or via twitter #socialinnovator.