As the COVID-19 pandemic began to wane, SPU held its 16th Annual Social Venture Plan Competition (SVPC), returning to an in-person Showcase for the first time in nearly three years. Student teams developed solutions to a wide variety of social problems, from reducing carbon emissions, to chronic pain management, to vaccine distribution in the developing world. The common denominator across many of the projects was the use of technology to make the world a better place. The Showcase event, the finale of the annual SVPC, occurred in Upper Gwinn Commons on the SPU campus, on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 13, 2022.
The top project was My Monster Monitor, chosen as the $5,000 Herbert B. Jones Grand Prize winner by the combined votes of nearly 60 judges representing the business, nonprofit, academic, and professional communities. Ultropia came in second, winning the $3,000 runner-up award. Over the course of the day, hundreds of students, faculty, staff, and community members visited the Showcase and voted for their favorite project, giving the Donald B. Summers People’s Choice award of $1,000 to My Monster Monitor as well.
Nearly a quarter of a million children in the U.S. suffer from type 1 diabetes, and research suggests that the disease can be better regulated if the child engages in the management process. My Monster Monitor is developing an app that will gamify the tedious data entry and tracking necessary to keep T1D at bay. The My Monster Monitor app creates games using fun, monster characters to engage and educate kids about their bodies and their disease. The My Monster Monitor team included senior business administration majors Faith Stehr, Manny Diaz, and Joshua Erme; junior business administration major Jeanell Vergara; senior visual communication major Jenna Rasmussen; and senior Lydia Porter, who has a self-designed music business major.
Ultropia seeks to foster global access to clean laundry, while reducing the use of water and carbon emissions. The team is developing the first all-in-one ultrasonic washer and dryer, and in so doing, they hope to increase access to laundry machines and improve sanitation, all while providing a resource, energy, and time-saving product. Ultropia consisted of master’s of electrical engineering student Cody Birkland, and master’s of entrepreneurship student Lloyd Dees, both from the University of Washington.
Three honorable mention prizes of $2,000 were also awarded:
GLOEN has developed a remote-controlled, solar-powered cart that will allow health care workers in the developing world to bring a higher volume of refrigerated vaccines “the last mile” to remote villages and other communities. The cart would improve upon existing solutions, such as cooler cases and backpacks. GLOEN was the work of senior global development studies majors Chloe Wesson, Vanessa Mosqueda, and Sophie Bilger; senior mechanical engineering majors Andrew Harper-Smith and Quan Nguyen; and senior electrical engineering major Deborah Tambunan.
One Court seeks to enhance the experience of visually impaired people at sporting events using a haptic (touch-based) feedback system that will allow them to experience the spatial relationships of the game or match in real time. One Court was comprised of senior geography and data science major Antyush Bollini; senior electrical engineering major Clay Boyd; master’s of data science student Aaliyah Hänni; senior business administration major Michaela Isaacs; junior industrial design major Jerred Mace; and senior human-centered design major Katia Meuleman. All six are from the University of Washington.
Xpressive Tech believes that chronic pain can be better managed when doctors and patients can communicate more clearly and less subjectively about it. They have developed a piece of wearable tech that quantifies pain responses, thus creating a baseline for treatment conversations. The Xpressive Tech plan was written and presented by four University of Washington students: MBA candidates Khang To, Jeff Shuey, and Ian Kopp, along with MD candidate Kiarra Levesque.
This is the sixteenth year of SPU’s Social Venture Plan Competition. Nine teams presented at the Showcase event, comprising approximately 40 students. In the first round of the competition, 21 written business plans, representing nearly 100 students from three different schools, were reviewed and scored by community partners.
The Showcase Round was the finale of the Social Venture Plan Competition. In addition to the review of written business plans, earlier stages in the competition included a series of seminars on the basics of business plan writing; engagement with graphic design students on branding for selected teams; and coaching sessions with knowledgeable businesspeople, non-profit executives, and others. In all, more than 100 community volunteers gave time as readers, instructors, coaches, and judges.
Becki Johnson, a retired financial services executive and volunteer reader, commented: “I felt so privileged to have been a reader of My Monster Monitor. It was amazing and they put so much thought into it.”
First time volunteer judge and local educator Karen Weber said, “What a fabulous group of students — bright young people shining light for the future! It was a blessing to serve as a judge.”
“I was extremely impressed by the level of professionalism exhibited by all participants, and the students’ passion for their projects was especially uplifting,” said returning volunteer judge Frances Walker, a social impact consultant, “Please continue to include me in future SVP Competitions — fingers crossed that we will again be in-person next year. It made such a difference to personally interact with the students and their work!”
Financial sponsors of the SVPC include the Herbert B. Jones Foundation, the Scott and Kathleen Cummins Family Foundation, Tschetter Group, Bellmont Cabinets, Northwest Center, Eastlake Real Estate Partner, Highland Private Wealth Management, and Skills Inc. The competition is organized by the Center for Applied Learning (CAL) in the School of Business, Government, and Economics (SBGE) at SPU.
Team photos by John Godek.