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WSU COVID-19 Innovation Challenge to grant $25,000 reward

The top three ideas from in Inland Northwest will work on efficient ways to navigate through a pandemic and help form solutions for local businesses impacted.

SPOKANE, Wash. — Turning a genius idea into a reality that helps people through a pandemic is no easy task. 

There need to be resources available like funding, and guidance that points a plan in the right direction. The COVID-19 Innovation Challenge is making that possible

“I’m really impressed with how creative people in the Inland Northwest are,” said April Needham, Director for the Washington State University Center of Innovation.

$25,000 is on the line for three ideas that can address issues people in the Inland Northwest are facing during the pandemic.

WSU's College of Health and Sciences is behind the grants. The school is hoping to bring economic development to the region.

The idea is to present a solution that would help people through something like COVID-19.

The challenge is looking for ideas that can limit virus spread, overcome supply chain disruptions, and support tasks of daily living.

“In the Spokane region, we have a really strong entrepreneurial ecosystem and a lot of people doing really cool things. There’s a very vibrant subculture here that's growing and thriving,” Needham explained.

For anyone that submits a winning idea, they won’t only receive a large sum of money, experienced support groups will help them build a successful product. Challenge winners will get help from mentors, and develop prototypes of their products that can be put to the test. 

“We’re going to help them with their financial projections. With really vetting that idea and dialing it in so we can build some designs around it,” Needham said. 

Applications to submit ideas will close at midnight on October 23rd. 

After that, the process of selecting a winner will take place over the next month.

A final pitch will happen on November 18th and the top ideas will be announced two days later on November 20th.

“I think there’s an opportunity to birth several ideas into the market,” Needham said. “Not just the three that we choose as the winners of this competition.”