InVenture Prize Draws True GT Innovation


Roger Pincombe shows off his $5,000 check for winning the individual category of the inaugural InVenture prize.
April 16, 2009

Lots of college students want to change the world. Roger Pincombe just might have found a way to do it—one bargain at a time.

Pincombe, a junior computer science major, took first prize in the individual category of the 2009 InVenture Prize @ Georgia Tech, a competition designed by Institute faculty to foster student inventors and entrepreneurs. For his DialPrice invention—a price-check service that allows people to comparison shop without leaving a single store's aisle—Pincombe won $5,000, free patent filings by the Georgia Tech Office of Technology Licensing, and a paid summer internship to work on his invention.

"You dial a regular phone number and then enter the 12-digit UPC code on the box," Pincombe said. "DialPrice will tell you the average price, the price range and what other stores or online retailers are selling it for."

In essence, the InVenture Prize is an innovation competition. Undergraduate students can work independently or in teams to develop and present inventions judged by a panel of faculty experts. The competitors introduce their inventions, and a group of finalists advance to the public ceremony/competition (held in 2009 on March 30 in the Ferst Center for the Arts). Two winning inventions, either individuals or teams, receive:

  • Cash prizes ($10,000 for first place, $5,000 for second)
  • Free patent filings by the Office of Technology Licensing (each valued at $20,000)
  • Opportunities for paid summer internships to work on their inventions, with invitations to free commercialization services such as funding opportunities, office space, market vetting, and mentorship by faculty and industry entrepreneurs.

Joy Buolamwini

Complementing Pincombe’s individual award was the team award, which went to Created and organized by faculty, the InVenture Prize’s goal is to encourage an interest in invention, innovation and entrepreneurial lifestyle among Georgia Tech students, as well as to create an infrastructure, culture, and institutional focus that galvanizes student inventiveness and inventorship.

"The InVenture Prize competition gives a foundation for my castles in the sky," said Joy Buolamwini, a Stamps President's Scholar and first-year Computational Media major with a passion for web-related technologies and an eye for design. Her AdmissionsConquered, an InVenture Prize finalist, is a web-based system that makes the college application process easier by centralizing resources and allowing users to find what is personally relevant while sharing and gaining insights.

Furst served as a judge in the 2009 InVenture Prize competition, along with the following Georgia Tech colleagues:

  • Terry Blum, Tedd Munchak Chair and Professor in the College of Management, director of the Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship.
  • David Ku, Lawrence P. Huang Endowed Chair in Engineering and Entrepreneurship and Regents' Professor, George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering and College of Management.
  • Joy Laskar, Schlumberger Chair in Microelectronics, School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and director of the Georgia Electronic Design Center.

Associate Professor Peter Ludovice, from the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, hosted the March 30 event, which also featured remarks from Georgia Tech Provost Gary Schuster and Georgia state Rep. Bob Smith (R-Watkinsville) and live musical performances by a string quartet and an acoustic guitarist.

Planning is already under way for the 2010 InVenture Prize. Future inventors and entrepreneurs can signal their intention to compete, as well as watch video of 2009 entries, by visiting http://inventureprize.gatech.edu/.