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K-State Today

May 1, 2024

K-State Business Innovation Challenge awards nearly $10,000 in scholarships to competition winners

Submitted by Haley Ahlers

Autumn Race and William Tranbarger win the 2024 Innovation Challenge. 

The Center for Principled Business hosted its fifth annual spring competition, the K-State Business Innovation Challenge — powered by Koch Industries. Students who participated in the competition developed a proposal to improve an existing product, service or technology. The goal of the challenge is to encourage students to think innovatively about solutions to real-world problems.

Six teams advanced to the final round and presented to a panel of K-State alumni industry professionals. This year's industry judges were Nick Chong, chief customer officer, Zoom; Victor Ojeleye, Business Group FP&A Planning & Reporting manager, Cargill; Kenneth Selzer, former executive managing director, Aon; and Katie Small, senior industry contract officer, University of Chicago.

"This year's competition was exceptionally tough for our esteemed judges, given the outstanding quality and creativity displayed by our participating students," said Marcia Hornung, director of the Center for Principled Business. "We are proud of our students' success and thankful for the investment from alumni, faculty, community members, and the industry partners who volunteered their time to support the Innovation Challenge."

This year's winners:

First place winners received $1,000 per team member for pitching an AI version of the Leap Pad. Team members are William Tranbarger, Lenexa; and Autumn Race, Manhattan.

Second place winners received $750 per team member for pitching the idea for LinkedIn to add a digital business card in a digital wallet. Team members are Shayla Cowin, Mulvane; Sophie Osborn, Chanute; Grant Rumsey, Wichita; and Rachel Yenni, Lindsborg.

Third place winners received $500 per team member for pitching a barefoot version of the New Balance 574s. Team members are Sophie Hannam, Joey Gillette, Justin Sanchez and Annie Winter; all from Shawnee.

Honorable mention teams received $250 per team member:

  • Peloton Recumbent Bike. Team members: Grant Janke, Shawnee; Mitch Higgins, Olathe; and Dylan Etzig, Olathe.
  • Mobile Justice app refresh. Team members: Brooklyn Fondaw, Tonganoxie; Isaac Rodriguez, Goodland; Rosa Cano, Kansas City; and Russell Peterson, Garnett.
  • Revival of the Keurig Kold. Team members: Jayden Cates, Andale; Morgan Estes, San Antonio, Texas; Grace Mernagh, Wichita; and Maggie Supple, Liberty, Missouri. 

The Center for Principled Business engages in teaching and research activities that develop business leaders and enhance societal prosperity. The center offers cross-disciplinary research and academic and co-curricular programs for K-State students, high school students and working professionals.