MADISON—WiSys is challenging the UW System community to develop innovative ideas to boost local community preparedness and response to pandemics via “WiSys Innovation Challenge: COVID-19.” WiSys’ challenge comes in response to the national crisis that forced students to leave Wisconsin campuses and WiSys to cancel numerous innovation skill-building events.
The challenge is open to all faculty, staff, students and alumni of the schools that WiSys serves (UW-Eau Claire, UW-Green Bay, UW-La Crosse, UW Oshkosh, UW-Parkside, UW-Platteville, UW-River Falls, UW-Stevens Point, UW-Stout, UW-Superior and UW-Whitewater).
“We want to find functional, local solutions to address the impacts of the epidemic and social distancing in local communities. Solutions can range anywhere from apps and websites to physical devices. This is a chance to help your friends, families and neighbors,” said WiSys President Arjun Sanga.
Innovators have until April 24 to submit their ideas in 250 words or less at wisys.org/challenge.
WiSys will promptly select 20 innovators who will have two weeks to create a proof-of-concept. They will then receive $100 to implement their idea. WiSys may also provide additional resources to further develop an idea after review of the initial implementation.
WiSys suggested some questions participants may consider before submitting an idea:
- How can we support local hospitals and at-home caregivers in the next couple of months and be more prepared for the next crisis?
- How can we help local businesses survive this and future economic disruptions?
- Are there supply-chain solutions for high-demand goods that could meet consumer needs in a timely fashion without resorting to stockpiling?
- Are there better ways to communicate global health information to underserved and elderly populations?
- What solutions can help us with our physical and mental wellbeing as social and physical distance grows?
“The coronavirus pandemic is affecting everyday life in new and profound ways, forcing us to rethink how we shop, eat, communicate, learn and travel,” said Sanga. “Moments of crisis, however, present opportunities for innovation. By addressing the underlying problems that the crisis has exposed, we hope this challenge will create a lasting positive change for our communities.”
WiSys is a nonprofit organization that works with faculty, staff, students, and alumni of the UW System to facilitate cutting-edge research programs, develop and commercialize discoveries and foster a spirit of innovative and entrepreneurial thinking across the state.
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