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Elementary and Middle School Students Pitch Inventions in USF Young Innovator Competition Friday

Ninth annual event recognizes area students for original ideas.

TAMPA, Fla. (Feb. 8, 2017) – Six students, selected from more than 600 entries from across the Tampa Bay Region, will gather Friday at the University of South Florida Research Park for the finals of the USF Young Innovator Competition, one of the nation’s largest and most successful celebrations of student inventors.

The finals will begin at 6 p.m. at the USF Galleria, 3802 Spectrum Blvd, Tampa. The event is free and open to the public.

For nine years, area students have been gathering on or near Thomas Edison’s birthday to pitch their inventions before a panel of judges who are experts in innovation and invention. Some winners have gone on to patent their inventions and later market them to consumers. Competition winners have even featured their creations on NBC’s Today show and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

This year, the top 20 entries were selected from a field of 636 submissions. The top submissions were then evaluated by members of the USF Chapter of the National Academy of Inventors on criteria such as originality, demonstrability and marketability of the ideas. The goal is for the students to produce inventions that might be submitted for U.S. patents and go as far as producing and marketing a new product.

This year’s six student finalists are three students from elementary schools and three from middle schools. They represent Family of Christ Christian School; Spessard L. Holland Elementary; Macfarlane Park Elementary; Walden Lake Elementary and two entries from Martinez Middle School.

The six finalist projects are:

The winners are selected by a panel of experts, including USF Senior Vice President for Research, Innovation & Economic Development Paul Sanberg, Associate Vice President for Technology Transfer & Business Partnerships at USF, Valerie Landrio McDevitt, and successful entrepreneur, Dr. Sebastian Dewhurst. The competition was founded and is led by area patent attorney Anton Hopen.

“USF, MOSI and the Tampa Bay community have done an amazing job supporting this initiative,” said Hopen, a 1991 USF graduate who co-founded the Young Innovators competition with his daughter Anna. “We are seeing the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs who call Tampa Bay their home. This is an investment in our future.”

The top student inventor will receive a $2,500 cash prize. The first and second runners-up will receive $1,000 and $500 respectively. The remaining three finalists each receive $100. All participants receive a one-day free admission to MOSI.

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