The University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Technology Transfer (CTT), through its business incubator UPstart program, has launched a new mobile application design contest called the AppItUP Challenge. The contest will gather the best app ideas from the Penn community and help make them a reality by connecting them with local venture capital firms as well as professional software developers.
“We see AppItUP as a great way for CTT and UPstart to connect more broadly with the Penn community in a fun way that also enables us to further support the powerful spirit of entrepreneurship that exists across this great University,” said John Swartley, CTT’s executive director and the associate vice provost for research at Penn.
Karina Sotnik, a senior consultant at UPstart and the program director of AppItUP, devised a platform for casting a campus-wide net to look for the next big app idea. Rather than only tapping into the experience of the technologically adept, AppItUP aims to connect with nurses, historians, poets, lawyers and everyone else who has a great app idea but no easy way of bringing it to life.
“Unlike other app development contests, we’re drawing on the diverse spectrum of knowledge that can only be found at a place like Penn,” Sotnik said. “We’re looking to unearth the hidden gems that exist outside the software and business development world.”
Current students, staff and faculty can log onto the AppItUP site to briefly and confidentially describe their app ideas. Contestants will then enter their idea in one of three categories: commercial apps with broad appeal, specialized apps that serve a particular professional need or “noble mobile” apps that are aimed at doing social good.
Partner venture capital firms and developers will comb through these submissions, selecting a panel of semi-finalists who will go on to pitch their ideas at a public forum on Nov. 22.
There, the AppItUP developer partners will compete with each other for the opportunity to build a functional prototype of their favorite idea. The event will also feature Wharton MBA students pitching themselves as potential CEOs for event winners who wish to create new companies in partnership with Penn to develop their winning app idea.
“By bringing the ideas, technology, funding and leadership together in one room, we’ll have five new mobile app products in full development by the end of the night,” Sotnik said.