Innovation Challenge

Photo: Tim Trumble

February 15, 2012

AZ Business Magazine

ASU Announces Innovation Challenge Winners

On Monday February 13, the winners for Arizona State University’s Innovation Challenge were announced.


The ASU Student Innovation Challenge is a program designed to give undergraduate and graduate students an opportunity to make a difference through social innovation. The awarded grant prize will be used as seed money to propel their ideas into social ventures aimed at solving global problems.

Of 188 teams and more than 500 ASU student applicants from all disciplines, 30 team finalists were selected to participate in a pitch event and were given a five-minute presentation in front of a judging panel to present their ideas. Of those finalists, nine student-led teams were selected to receive grants up to $10,000, announced by Howard Cabot, partner at Perkins Coie, a major sponsor of this year’s grand prize.

“We were looking for an opportunity to invest in the innovators of tomorrow, ASU just happened to be doing exactly what we wanted to support,” said Howard Cabot.

Of the nine finalists receiving grant money, the grand prize winner of the event was given to Vern Wolfey and his team for their idea Applyforall, a for profit website that brings those looking for a new credit card together with the card insurers. Applyforall’s new innovative method provides a service currently unavailable to consumers.

“We couldn’t be more excited about being chosen as the grand prize winners of the ASU Innovation Challenge,” said Wolfley.  “As a family based team, we have been working on this for quite some time and feel that we can finally move this further as a result of our award.”

Other big winners of the event included returning Innovation Challenge winner Peter Seymour from Seymour Enterprise who received a $5,000 grant to continue his work designing a low cost respiratory monitor designed for infants with an elevated risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

“The Innovation Challenge truly served as the launching point for Seymour Enterprises last year,” said Seymour.  “I had an exciting new idea about a medical sensor, but no real concept of how to go about starting a business or turning that idea into reality. After 12 months of truly innovative work I can confidently say that all of our progress stems from this first validation. In the end that is what the Innovation Challenge is really about.”

More winning teams included a portable water purification system for developing countries, a personal development program, modernizing the mechanical wheelchair and the conversion of steel shipping containers into low-cost, modular and mobile medical clinics.

This third annual Innovation Challenge was made possible by a generous grant from Perkin Coie Law Firm and the Ewing Marion Kaufmann Foundation in Kansas City. Additionally, support for the challenge also came from James Culver, John Dorsey, Jonathan Pinkus and David Wetta.

For more information on the Arizona State University Innovation Challenge visit