One Weekend, 3 Bold Challenges, An Abundance of Rewards

Friday, November 8- Saturday, November 9, 2019

The ISU INNOVATION PRIZE is a new incentive competition at Iowa State University on the weekend of November 8-9, 2019.  The ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship and Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative are co-hosting the event.  It will be held at the ISU Economic Development Core Facility in ISU Research Park.  Address: 1805 Collaboration Place, Ames, Iowa, 50010.

The competition theme for the third annual event is Innovation at Iowa StateThere will be three focus areas for participants to solve:

  • AgTech:  How do we increase productivity of the global agricultural system with less negative impact on land, energy, water, and Mother Earth?

    • Possible focuses: Food Security; Food Waste; Water Quality & Availability; Keep Life Below Sea Habitable for Humankind; Combat Deforestation & Life on Land; Sustainable Agricultural; Renewable Energy in Wind, Solar, Hydropower; Energy Crops; Carbon Sequestration; New Public Policy; and Private Investment Options.
  • EdTech: How do we design & reinvent learning for a better experience (quality & value) in an age of accelerating technology?

    • Possible focuses:  Nontraditional Classroom Experiences & Models; Breakthrough Experiential Learning; Latest Brain Science & Learning Technologies; Innovative Funding Formulas; Offline & Online Learning–New Technologies, Analytics, & Robotics; When and When Not to use Assessments; Great Transformations–Shrinking Demographics in Local Schools; Life-Long Learning.
  • Global Impact: How do we improve the quality of life and continue to help solve urgent issues all around the globe?

    • Note: this category is meant to be more broad and to challenge yourself to think big!  Possible focuses:  Fighting Poverty & Reducing Inequalities Within Developing Countries; Ensure Healthy Lives & Well-Being; Achieve Gender Equality & Empower All Women and Girls; Ensuring Affordable & Clean Energy to Transform Lives, Economics & the Planet; Overcome Urban Cities Congestion & Shortage of Adequate Housing & Declining  Infrastructure; Sustain Life on Land & Combat Deforestation.

What to Expect?

During the event, participants will form in small groups, based on their interests and abilities, then choose one of the three Bold Challenges.  Why small groups?  With little to lose, entrepreneurial small teams are able to brainstorm and consistently outperform large groups when it comes to innovation.  Incentive prizes are perfectly designed to harness this energy!

Featured Facilitator, Brian Hemesath


Brian Hemesath, a graduate of Iowa State University has been involved in the entrepreneurship and startup scene for many years. He is a computer engineer by education and has experience in sales and marketing. He is a serial entrepreneur, having started several companies including his current venture, VolunteerLocal. Hemesath was the inaugural director of the Global Insurance Accelerator and has worked on many previous startups including Tikly, Catchwind, Diligent IS, Handera, Doextra, and Raviant.

He loves sharing his business successes and failures as a mentor to the entrepreneurship community and has participated in several Startup Weekends in the past.







FREE to students, faculty, alumni, and community members. 

Special thanks to sponsors:


BEST AgTech iPRIZE: $1,500

BEST EdTech iPRIZE: $1,500

BEST Global Impact iPRIZE: $1,500



4:00-5:00 p.m. Keynote speaker and founder of Board of Veriown Global, Steve Johanns,  plus a sneak-peek inside Iowa State’s new Student Innovation Center

Note: This event is on-campus at MacKay 1117

5:30-6:00 p.m. Registration, Food + Networking at ISU Economic Development Core Facility

6:00 p.m. Kick-off

6:15-8:00 p.m. Creative Session

8:15-8:45 p.m. Team Formation

8:45 p.m. Team Kick-off + Active Work, Building closes at 11:00 p.m.


8:00-9:00 a.m. Power Breakfast

9:00-10:15 a.m. Check-in Review

10:30-11:30 a.m. How to Pitch Like a Pro

11:30-12:00 p.m. Pitch Hot Seat

12:00 p.m. Lunch

12:00-2:30 p.m. Pitch Refinement + Active Work

3:00-4:00 p.m. Final Presentations

4:00 p.m. Judges & Awards

Coaches + Mentors

Judi Eyles

Director for ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship & CyBIZ Lab




Diana Wright

Marketing & Programs at the ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship, Connector + Organizer for Startup Ames




Kevin Kimle

Rastetter Chair for Agricultural Entrepreneurship, Director of the ISU Agricultural Entrepreneurship Initiative




Tom Swartwood

Senior Instructor at Ivy College of Business/Entrepreneurship Fellow at ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship




Gracen Kostelecky

Program Coordinator at ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship




Nolan Herlocker

Owner of Nolan’s Lawn & Landscapes





Register for the ISU Innovation PRIZE


Registration is required for the ISU INNOVATION PRIZE™ and full participation on Friday, April 5 through Saturday, April 6.
    It is not required to form a team before the event. Participants entering without a team will have the chance to form teams during Friday evening.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.


Please contact:  Diana Wright, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship at dkw@iastate.edu