Game Changer Week Features New Student Pitch Competition

Congratulations to all the winners of this year’s competition!

Clean Energy:

  • 1st place: Engage Energy, $8000 sponsored by Dominion Energy Innovation
    • Team Members: Jack Quinn, Kayla Mathis, Marie Pittman, Anika Coleman
  • 2nd place: Brick Box, $3000 sponsored by Dominion Energy Innovation
    • Team Member: Marshall Thompson

Health Innovation

  • Feel Free Body Braces, $2000 sponsored by Deloitte
    • Team Members: Jackson Childers, Sawyer Anderson, Lauren Bickham, Gabriel Townsend, Morgan Weidling

General Innovation

  • Exit Sign Solutions, $2000 sponsored by S2 Foundation
    • Team Members: Will Field, Conner Donnelly, Angel Hernandez

Technology Innovation

  • 1st place: SCRIB’D, $2000 sponsored by Boeing
    • Team Members: Emma Stern, Caleb Townsend
  • 2nd place: GlideGuard, $1000 sponsored by TORC
    • Team Members: Vincent Nottoli, Carolina Rossin, William Black, Nathan Martin

People’s Choice

  • NestMate, $1000 sponsored by VT Pamplin Department of Management
    • Team Members: Savannah Payne, Zane Witek, Michael Desta, Shravan Athikinas

For the first time, the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center and Roanoke-Blacksburg Technology Council are hosting a regional Student Pitch Competition for Game Changer Week, September 5-8.

The Game Changer Student Pitch Competition is designed exclusively for higher education students who aspire to create a significant impact through their innovative ideas. The competition encourages and celebrates entrepreneurial thinking, providing students a unique opportunity to gain exposure, receive valuable feedback, and possibly secure funding for their ventures. 

Regional partners, including the Pamplin College of Business’s Department of Management, private donors and leaders in the regional entrepreneurship ecosystem, as well as international sponsors such as Boeing and S2 Foundation, are investing in this amazing event to support student-led entrepreneurial ventures. The investment is funding the most competitive and elaborate student pitch competition to ever be held in the New River Valley. 

The pitch competition has four specific categories that students can engage in and receive prize money:

  • Clean Energy
  • Health Technology
  • Technology and Innovation
  • Transportation

The community and students’ peers can also be involved with judging by voting on their favorite student team for a People’s Choice Award. 

The pitch competition will host a Kickoff Event at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, September 5 in the Creativity and Innovation District on Virginia Tech’s Campus with special guest speaker, Rishi Jaitly, an entrepreneur and former Google, Twitter executive and now Professor of Practice for the Virginia Tech Center for Humanities and the Executive Director of Virginia Tech’s Leadership in Technology ( initiative.

Professional mentors from regional organizations will be available to meet with student teams throughout the week to provide coaching and guidance to help students further their ideas and prepare them for presenting their pitches to our notable judges. Teams chosen as finalists, along with those vying for the People’s Choice Award, will present their pitches throughout the day on Friday, September 8, at the Lyric Theater in downtown Blacksburg. The public is invited to attend to the pitch competition finals from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.

“Entrepreneurship is a beacon of hope for this up-and-coming generation of students in dealing with the world’s most complex and difficult problems,” said Laura Townsend, Director of Innovative Partnerships at the Virginia Tech Corporate Research Center. “It allows for the fluid application of knowledge through creativity in approaching complex and dynamic issues facing our world. Providing space for these young thinkers, creators, and innovators to collaborate and develop solutions ignites the passion for action, gives students confidence in their ideas and abilities, and opens up new possibilities for the future for our region, state, nation, and world.”

The competition is part of Game Changer Week, a celebration of the innovation ecosystem in the Roanoke-Blacksburg region. The series of events, now in its third year, features speakers, workshops, and networking opportunities for students to CEOs, and everyone in between. Events are free and happen in both Roanoke and Blacksburg. 

See the full Game Changer Week schedule here.

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