Local finalists announced for Innovate WithIN pitch competition hosted by Society of Innovators at PNW

March 19, 2024

Purdue University Northwest (PNW) and the Society of Innovators at PNW will host the Innovate WithIN Region 4 Finals during a live event in Alumni Hall at the PNW Hammond campus on Friday, April 19 from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The STARTedUP Foundation’s Innovate WithIN is the largest high school pitch competition in the country. Sixty-one student teams from across Indiana will be competing for ten spots in the State Finals taking place on June 21st. The top team will be selected at each of the six regions during the competitions hosted by: Indiana University Indianapolis, Purdue University’s Purdue Innovates, Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest, Maker13, University of Evansville and Parkview Mirro Center for Research & Innovation. The remaining four teams will be selected by The STARTedUP Foundation and an impartial group of judges.

“One of the strategic goals of Purdue University Northwest is to foster innovation. We are excited to support this year’s Innovate WithIN competition as PNW and the Society of Innovators continue to invest in entrepreneurship and innovation in Northwest Indiana and beyond,” said Jason Williams, assistant director for the Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest. “The students participating in Innovate WithIN are developing real solutions for real problems. We know that by investing in these young innovators, we’re giving them an opportunity to not only apply what they’re working on in the classroom, but also to apply this to real problems that exist in our communities today.”

In Northwest Indiana, ten teams were selected from over 500 regional applicants to compete live in the Northwest Indiana Region 4 competition for a chance to win $1,000 and participation in the state finals. Region finalists that will compete on April 19 include:

  • Cubbi Buddy
    • Noah Magiera, Valparaiso High School
    • Michael Opperman, Valparaiso High School
    • Tyler VerSchure, Valparaiso High School
  • Drone Launch Pad
    • Ryan Wiktor, Valparaiso High School
  • Equi
    • Abigail Bisig, Hobart High School
    • Trinity Peldonia-Lies, Crown Point High School
  • Escape the Silence
    • Lauren Dumaresq, Munster High School
    • Charity Ibikunle, Munster High School
  • Hero Cycle
    • Amauria Buck, Hammond High School
    • Akeelah Williams, Hammond High School
  • Hoodie Haven
    • Lily Decker, Lake Central High School
    • Mia Hulverson, Lake Central High School
    • Emma Slavena, Lake Central High School
  • Johnson Sports Memorabilia
    • Joseph Johnson, Lowell Senior High School
  • SafetyGlow
    • Ashton Verbish, Hanover Central High School
  • Scent Seal
    • Josephine Pirok, Munster High School
    • Nabeel Rabie, Munster High School
    • Brooke Weatherly, Munster High School
  • Wringo
    • Connor Gomez, Munster High School
    • Ameen Musleh, Munster High School
    • Vasili Papageorge, Munster High School

Purdue Northwest is offering additional incentives to participants and winners of Innovate WithIN who enroll at the university:

  • A one-year (non-renewable) full tuition scholarship will be offered to 1st place winners (at the NWI regional competition), once the winner is enrolled as a full-time student.
  • A one-year full tuition and room & board scholarship will be offered to 1st place winners at the state competition, once the winner is enrolled as a full-time student.
  • A $299 book scholarship will be offered to any Innovate WithIN participant who registers as a full-time student at PNW.

The region finals are free to attend and open to the public.

RSVP or Join the Livestream

Innovate WithIN has grown year-over-year, with 2024 being another record-breaking year. There were nearly 3,000 students who signed up to compete, with a 28% increase in the number of teams who submitted a finalized pitch, which included a three-minute video pitch and a lean business model canvas.

“While we have seen a growth in the number of pitches submitted, we have also seen a huge increase in the quality and thoughtfulness that each student team put forth when developing their business idea,” said Don Wettrick, co-founder and CEO of the STARTedUP Foundation. “It has been amazing for our team to witness the mindset shift in students across the state as they learn to view problems as opportunities.”

For more information about financial incentives for Innovate WithIN participants or to learn more about enrolling at PNW, please contact admissions@pnw.edu.

Innovate WithIN Pitch Competition

Society of Innovators at Purdue Northwest contributes to economic and community development throughout the region as the champion of innovation in Northwest Indiana. Our Innovate WithIN Pitch Competition is about cultivating development within our students.