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What’s it all about?

Cross-college teams identify a big problem and a potential solution, then pitch their idea to a panel of industry judges.

Only caveat is that the solution must leverage information technology as a key component of the business model.

This is an idea pitch and not a business plan competition, so we are looking for teams that are in the early stages of figuring out how to solve a big problem.


rt custer

“Keeping the Lights On. Understanding the path from idea to concept to company.”
R.T Custer, co-founder & CEO of  Vortic Watches

A 2014 Penn State graduate, R.T. has held down a full time job while building and growing a successful startup that crafts wristwatches with vintage American-made pocket watch movements. R. T will share the tough decisions he’s faced on his journey starting as a student with an “idea” to today as a CEO with employees, rent, and a full fledged business.

Who can participate?


Any undergraduate student currently enrolled and in good standing at Penn State is eligible to participate.

Teams of 2 to 5

Teams must have a minimum of 2 students and a maximum of 5. Teams can be new or existing teams already working on a problem.

From 2 colleges

Teams must have members that represent at least 2 different colleges. Double major? Pick one college to represent.

What’s involved?

Rocket Pitches

Each team will have 3 slides and 3 minutes to pitch their ideas. No Q&A, just your team. The top 6 teams advance to the finals.

Mentor Pairing

Finalists will be paired with successful entrepreneurs who will help teams advance their ideas and prepare for finals.

Final Pitches

Finalists will have 5 minutes to pitch their ideas and answer questions from the judges.

What can I win?

startup-512Win a trip to build your network and advance your idea.

Top 2 teams win a trip to visit a startup or innovation center in San Francisco or D.C.
3rd place wins a cool tech gadget

Top teams are also fast tracked through the application process for the summer program in the Happy Valley LaunchBox accelerator.

Need a team?

teamDon’t have a team? Don’t sweat it.

Check out our Forum to find other team members.

Find A Team is now Closed

Are you up for the Challenge?

Top 2 teams win a trip to visit a startup or accelerator in San Francisco or D.C. to advance their idea.

3rd place wins a cool tech gadget.

Applications are now closed.

Check back in January of 2017 to find out when the next challenge will take place.

Penn State College of IST
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2017 Contest Details Released

April 28, 2016April 28, 2016
The details for the 2017 Ideamaker Challenge have been released. Find out more here.

2016 Competition Concludes

April 28, 2016
The 2016 Ideamaker Challenge has come to an end, and here are the results!

Test News

April 28, 2016
This is a test of the new news.