Contest to showcase innovative ideas

Melanie Todd, Staff writer

On April 6, the Innovation Collaborative will host its Fourth Annual Collegiate Innovation Showcase at Erie Insurance from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. This competition is open to all local college and university students to showcase their entrepreneurship.

Contest guidelines ask students to “define or produce a solution that demonstrates innovation, originality, potential benefit and feasibility.”

Students are required to have completed the project this academic year and have one team member available to present at the showcase.

Students can get more information and register at Over the past three years students have been awarded $20,000 in cash and prizes.

The conference seeks to build interest among college students in starting their own businesses beyond their college years in the region. Erie uniquely has access to three major cities that are all less than two hours away. There are several universities including Mercyhurst, Gannon University and Edinboro University within and close to the city. However, the economic make-up of Erie is struggling. The Innovation Collaborative is working to change this.

Their mission statement is threefold: advocacy, measurement and empowerment.

“We’re raising awareness about the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation for the health of our local economy. Entrepreneurship is vital to job growth and wealth creation. We’re advocating for entrepreneurship as a major driver of economic development,” the mission statement says.

The collaborative stresses the importance of measuring this as well.

“We’re mapping the elements of Erie’s Emerging Entrepreneurial Ecosystem and tracking its progress,” the mission statement says.

The overall goal is empowerment of the city and its citizens.

“Our aim is to empower local entrepreneurs and resource providers. We have strong regional talent present in Erie and dedicated resource providers available to assist these entrepreneurs in growing their businesses,” the mission statement says.

This competition caters specifically to the universities so that student ideas can foster and grow early on in their careers.

“The Innovations Collaborative is a supportive community that champions innovators,” said Carl Nicolia, chairman of the Innovation Collaborative Board of Directors in the annual report.