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Innovation Week fosters networking, competition

Idea sharing, business planning, competition and even LEGO® toys will be part of the third annual Innovation Week, which runs through Dec. 6.

"This is a great way to highlight what goes on all the time at MIT," said Ann Chaney, program manager of the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge.

The week is a collaboration among several student groups, including the Venture Capital and Private Equity Club, 50K Entrepreneurship Competition, Innovation Club, TechLink and SEBC (Science and Engineering Business Club), as well as non-student groups, including the Deshpande Center, the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge and the Entrepreneurship Center.

The week kicks off with a networking reception in Walker Memorial from 7-9 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 29. Most of the groups involved sponsored at least one event.

"We have worked together to ensure that there is no overlap and that we can really show both the MIT community as well as the outside community, all the interesting groups on campus focused on innovation and entrepreneurship," said Katja Wald, program coordinator at the Deshpande Center.

On Thursday, Dec. 1, the 50K Entrepreneurship Competition, which awards hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and business startup services to teams of entrepreneurs each spring, is sponsoring the 1K awards ceremony. Ten ideas will each be awarded a $1,000 prize.

"This event is a warm-up for the spring competition," said graduate student Lakshman Pernenkil, who has taken the lead on marketing the 50K Competition.

This year there were 124 entries in the competition. Each team will receive feedback. "We recommend that they resubmit for the spring competition," Pernenkil said. The event starts at 7 p.m. in Bartos Theater.

Other highlights of the week include a LEGO® Challenge sponsored by the Innovation Club. Open to families, the event gives teams of 4-6 people two hours to visualize, build and display LEGO® creations. A panel of judges will determine the most creative. In the past, teams have created everything from a life-size jukebox to a martini glass complete with an olive.

The week closes on Tuesday, Dec. 6 with a startup clinic, sponsored by the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge, that will help student entrepreneurs bring their ideas to fruition. "Attendees will get a better feel for how to refine their business plan and pitch," said Chaney.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on November 30, 2005 (download PDF).

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