The Innovation Competition is an international pitch competition for teams that seek funding and mentorship in kickstarting their high-potential start ups. This past year, the Innovation Competition hosted 120+ attendees, of which 90% were female, from 28 universities. This year, for our 9th annual competition, we are expect to continue growing, and are delighted to announce that Karen Mills, the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration under President Obama, will be our keynote speaker.

For important information and updates, like our page on Facebook. We will be posting spotlights on our speakers, mentors, judges, and semifinalists throughout the summer!


What to Expect 

The Innovation Competition begins at 9 AM with breakfast and registration. Throughout the day, you will hear from our two Keynote speakers and our three Ted Talk speakers, each of whom will share their own perspective on a unique aspect of innovation and entrepreneurship. You will also hear pitches from each of our eight semi-finalists. New to this year are our two interactive workshop sessions, led by professionals in the field of entrepreneurship, where you will learn skills and techniques with a real-world application. Our career fair will take place later in the day, and you will have the opportunity to talk to employers looking for passionate, hardworking undergraduates.


*Application to Compete Due by October 6, 2017


Karen Mills

Karen Mills served in President Barack Obama's cabinet as the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration from 2009 until August 2013.  She is currently a Senior Fellow at the Harvard Business School, focusing on U.S. competitiveness, entrepreneurship and innovation. An authority on the economic health and well-being of the nation’s small business community, Mills is the leading source for analysis and insight the small business lending market and its impact on the nation’s economy, including the rapid growth of “fintech” online lenders. The link between entrepreneurship and middle-class opportunity has also been a primary focus for Mills.

As SBA Administrator and a Cabinet member, Mills served on the President’s National Economic Council and was a key member of the White House economic team.  At the SBA, she led a team of more than 3,000 employees and managed a loan guarantee portfolio of over $100 billion.  Mills is credited with turning around the Agency, streamlining loan programs, shortening turnaround times, and reducing paperwork. These efforts resulted in record-breaking years for SBA lending and investments in growth capital.  Prior to the SBA, Mills held leadership positions in the private sector, including as a partner in several private equity firms, and served on the boards of Scotts Miracle-Gro and Arrow Electronics.  Most recently, she was president of MMP Group, which invested in businesses in consumer products, food, textiles, and industrial components.

Mills earned an AB in economics from Harvard University and an MBA from Harvard Business School, where she was a Baker Scholar. She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Harvard Corporation, Harvard’s principal fiduciary governing board. She is Chairman of the Advisory Committee for the Private Capital Research Institute, a non-profit organization that seeks to further the understanding of private capital and its impact through independent academic studies. Mills is a regular contributor to Fortune and her writing has appeared in Harvard Business Review and Politico magazine.


David A. Shore, PhD

David A. Shore is a leading authority on innovation and managing change initiatives to gain competitive advantage.  Throughout his career he has worked to combine research, teaching, consulting and writing to build constructive links between theory and practice. 

Shore has been on the faculty of Harvard University for more than two decades. He is also Distinguished Professor of Innovation and Change at Tianjin University of Finance and Economics (China) and Adjunct Professor of Organizational Development and Change at the School of Business, University of Monterrey (Mexico).  Shore is a faculty member of The Governance Institute and Executive in Residence at Enable East (United Kingdom). Shore has facilitated strategic planning and leadership retreats, and delivered hundreds of keynote addresses and workshops for groups across multiple industries. Previously, he spent two decades at the Harvard School of Public Health, where he served as associate dean. 

He has served on and chaired numerous boards and committees, and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Marshfield Clinic Health System, the Advisory Board of Asian Hospitals and Healthcare Management, the External Advisory Board of McKinsey Implementation, as well as several editorial boards.  Among his honors is the prestigious Doctorate Fellow from the Academy of Multi-Skills (United Kingdom).  His most recent books include Launching and Leading Successful Change Initiatives in Health Care Organizations: (Jossey-Bass, 2014); Forces of Change:  New Strategies for the Evolving Health Care Marketplace (Jossey-Bass, 2012); and High StakesThe Critical Role of Stakeholders in Health Care, with E. Kupferberg (Oxford University Press, 2011).  Professor Shore has been recognized as a Top Thought Leader in Trust by Trust Across America – Trust Around the World.   

Never known to simply “admire the problem,” beyond intellectually stimulating, Shore provides executable advice, inspiring leaders and organizations to gain a unique and adaptable competitive advantage.




Click on the images below to learn more about each Speaker, Judge, Mentor, Workshop Leader, and Company

Workshop Leaders



Career Fair

(from 2016)