Students invited to join first Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge

Challenges range from rooftop gardens to robot hotels, with prizes offered to student innovators across colleges this spring

KINGSTON, R.I. – Feb. 26, 2024 – University of Rhode Island students are invited to join the University’s inaugural Innovation and Entrepreneurship Challenge sponsored by 401 Tech Bridge, a division of the URI Research Foundation, and funded by RISE-UP. Innovation challenges are offered to students across programs, interests and colleges, from a challenge to build a green rooftop utopia on Lippitt Hall to a challenge to create underwater hotels for robots, and more.

The initiative is drawing multidisciplinary participation across colleges at URI, as well as the Honors Program, with a variety of challenges centered on the theme of sustainability. The new program invites URI students to contribute to the University’s 10-year strategic plan and joins a culture of cross-disciplinary entrepreneurship and innovation at the University.

Challenges are open to students—both undergraduate and graduate—from any program or major. Students can apply for any challenge and do not need to be a student in any sponsoring college or program. Teams can be composed of one to six members and are eligible to enter multiple challenges.

Prizes for the challenges range from $250 to $2,000, with challenge offerings continuing to be updated. The program’s current challenges are:

R&R – Repurpose and Redistribute
This challenge aims to reduce hard waste in the URI campus community by developing innovative ways to repurpose items and/or find new homes for them. 
Sponsor: Mary Parlange

Imagining Your Own Utopia: Green Rooftop Design
Students are invited to design plans for an environmentally friendly and aesthetically appealing rooftop terrace for Lippitt Hall. 
Sponsor: Honors Program

Improving Health Across the Lifespan
The College of Health Sciences seeks to develop innovative solutions to complex problems that promote physical and mental health and well-being, improving physical and mental health to enhance the quality of life for people of any age.
Sponsor: College of Health Sciences

Designs for All: Engineering Better Solutions for People with Disabilities
This challenge invites participants to address the unique challenges faced by people with disabilities in their daily lives, fostering creative solutions that make the world more accessible and equitable for everyone. 
Sponsor: College of Engineering

Underwater Hotels for Robots
Students are invited to propose a design of a modular hotel for autonomous underwater robots in different sizes and shapes. 
Sponsor: Graduate School of Oceanography

The Impact Challenge
This challenge welcomes ideas and innovative approaches that can make an impact on social issues, technological interventions and sustainability.
Sponsor: College of Business

Catalyzing Change Through Arts and Sciences Collaborations
This category invites students to collaboratively address intersecting environmental and social challenges and help catalyze change by fusing the creative arts/humanities with the natural/social sciences.
Sponsor: College of Arts and Sciences

Biodesign Sustainability Challenge
This invites students to combine knowledge of biological systems with design thinking skills to address sustainability challenges.
Sponsor: College of the Environment and Life Sciences

Textile Futures: Maximizing the Impact of Textile-Integrated Systems
This challenge seeks to engage Rhode Island’s academic community to develop innovative products, systems and solutions that will have a positive and lasting global impact by harnessing the potential of groundbreaking textile-integrated systems technologies.
Sponsor: Nautilus Defense

See the RISE-UP Challenges page for the latest challenge updates.

All entries are due before the end of the spring semester, so interested students are encouraged to apply now.