WEST LAFYAETTE, Ind. – Global Sign, a student startup that created a platform to make video content more accessible to those with limited or no hearing through sign language, won the eighth annual Schurz Communications Innovation Challenge.

Fourteen teams of both undergraduate and graduate students took part in the challenge last month, where a total of $10,500 in cash prizes was awarded. The winners were determined by a panel of five judges, while the audience picked the people’s choice award.

“The Schurz Communications Innovation Challenge is an opportunity for undergraduate and graduate students at Purdue to test their creativity and skills in the area of online and mobile media technology,” said Arnold Chen, managing director of the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship.

Global Sign team members Yasmeen Hafeez, a senior in the Krannert School of Management; Seba Kaakeh, a biochemistry junior in College of Agriculture; and Heya Kaakeh, a senior in the School of Mechanical Engineering, previously won first place in the social entrepreneurship category in the Burton D. Morgan Business Model Competition. Their company works to encourage governments, schools and companies to make their video content more accessible through the use of sign language. A video about Global Sign is available here.

FlykeART, which is developing a smart galley cart system that allows airlines to empower passengers to customize their in-flight experiences by communicating with the seatback screens on airplanes while reducing operating costs, took home $3,500 for finishing second.

Teacher.ly, a platform that offers live, online computer science classes and access to various opportunities to interact with mentors, experts, and a wider community, came in third place and won $1,500.

The audience selected weAR for the people’s choice award. weAR received a $500 cash award. The weAR platform brings together the fashion industry and e-commerce by offering consumers a unique augmented reality shopping experience accessible through their phones.

The Innovation Challenge, which took place at the Anvil, was hosted by the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship. Since 2013, Schurz Communications has invested $73,500 in Purdue student startups through the Innovation Challenge.

Students with interest in media technology and in creating a prototype of their innovation were encouraged to take part in the challenge. Throughout the preparation, students were given access to an experienced mentor to help guide them. Students also were allowed to seek assistance in developing their prototype from various Purdue resources, including the Bechtel Innovation Design Center and from Schurz Communications. All prototypes and innovations created during the challenge remain under the ownership of the students.

All teams were judged on a number of factors, including the quality of the presentation, their ability to sell products, how far along the project is, whether it has a working prototype, the methodology used and the existence of documented customer validation.

About the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship

Discovery Park’s Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship is Purdue University’s gateway for innovation and entrepreneurship on campus. It houses a number of programs and competitions for student and faculty entrepreneurs designed to encourage innovation and discover big ideas that have potential to benefit society. The Burton D. Morgan Center works closely with the Purdue Foundry and Purdue Ventures to enhance the university’s robust entrepreneurial ecosystem and to provide meaningful access to capital and talent for Purdue entrepreneurs. The center also houses the Certificate in Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program, which is administered through Purdue’s Office of the Provost, and is the primary vehicle for delivering entrepreneurship education to over 1,800 students across campus each year.

About Schurz Communications Inc.

Schurz Communications Inc. is a family owned corporation that has been helping businesses, communities and individuals make meaningful connections for five generations. The Schurz legacy began in newspaper publishing and today, the company remains committed to making information more accessible through the platforms and technology of the digital age. Schurz Communications’ recent investments include regional broadband companies, global data center solutions providers and digital media and marketing firms. The company’s portfolio also includes a variety of minority investments. For more information, visit www.schurz.com.

Writer: Zeina Kayyali, zmkayyali@prf.org
Purdue Research Foundation contact: Tom Coyne, 765-588-1044, tjcoyne@prf.org
Source: Arnold Chen, chen2503@purdue.edu