Inventive Coolness

Students will showcase original inventions at the Young Innovator Competition Friday evening at USF’s Patel Center.


Last year's 2011 competition is discussed.                                                                Video credit: Amy Mariani | USF News


By Vickie Chachere

USF News


TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 7, 2012) – Fourteen young inventors from across the Tampa Bay region will showcase their original creations and vie for top awards before a panel of celebrity and industry judges in the 4th Annual Young Innovator Competition, Friday, Feb. 10, at the University of South Florida’s Patel Center for Global Solutions.

The competition begins at 5:30 p.m. with the finalists displaying their creations, with judging beginning at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free and the event – now in its fourth year and one of USF’s most anticipated community programs - is open to the public.

A record-breaking 536 invention entries from schools in eight counties were received for the competition. The entries were then culled by members of USF’s chapter of the National Academy of Inventors to a field of the 14 finalists representing elementary, middle school and high school categories.

The winners will receive a package of prizes which include $1,000 for the top invention from each of the three school levels.  Winners will also earn an additional $1,000 for their respective schools to support science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiatives.

The winners will be selected by a panel of innovation experts, including infomercial pioneer Kevin Harrington, the CEO of; Home Shopping Network host Bill Green; former Bay News 9 anchor and inventor Jen Holloway and USF innovation leaders. The Young Innovator Competition was founded and is led by the non-profit corporation, Innovation Express, founded and led by USF alumnus and Tampa patent attorney Anton Hopen.

 “There is simply nothing more impressive than a child with confidence in their intellect and purpose in their speech. The inventions are entirely their own creation and that makes the difference.”  Hopen said.

In addition to a cash prize awarded to the winners of each of the three categories, the successful inventors are granted honorary membership in USF’s Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors and are honored during the university’s annual celebration of research achievement, ResearchOne.

Past winners have included students who have developed new pet care and home and office products, and at least one participant struck a licensing deal on her invention, a painless bandage removal lotion. The competition is traditionally held on or near the birthday of Thomas Edison.

The Young Innovator Competition was devised by Hopen’s daughter, Anna – herself a young inventor – to promote innovation and creativity in young people by motivating them to solve problems and think of new ways to improve our daily lives. In doing so, children discover why education gives them increasingly more powerful tools and resources to solve bigger problems and challenges, Hopen said.

 “These young inventors are not only creative and inspiring. They have amazing, practical and innovative solutions to real needs,” said Karen Holbrook, USF’s Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation & Global Affairs.

The road to the finals began in November, when math, science, technology and engineering teachers and those in gifted student programs from across the Tampa Bay region were invited to attend a workshop on new ideas and resources to foster creativity and entrepreneurship in their students. Students were able to enter their ideas online.

Enlisting the aid of a cadre of industry experts, Hopen led a panel of HSN, TVGoods and patenting experts who whittled down the initial 536 invention entries into the top 60 projects. The 14 finalists spent Saturday, Feb. 4 learning how to perfect their presentation and answer the tough questions the judges will present them.

More information on the USF Young Innovator Competition can be found here.

Vickie Chachere can be reached at 813-974-6251.