Innovation Sprints

Students participating in an Innovation Sprint.

Fast-paced problem solving for real-world businesses.

Innovation Sprints challenge teams of students to flex their interdisciplinary skills and talents to come up with viable solutions to actual problems or questions posed by business leaders from local organizations, by offices on campus, or by faculty members. These fast-paced, engaging events are similar in format to a “hackathon” – but without the need for technical expertise.

The result: students are exposed to collaborative opportunities to apply innovative thinking with tangible results, businesses and campus organizations benefit from fresh perspectives offered by emerging talent, and faculty can get students thinking about real-world applications for classroom learning.

How They Work

  • The sponsor presents a challenge statement ahead of the event to entice student involvement from a wide range of academic disciplines.
  • To kick off the Sprint, the sponsor presents the case in a 10-minute TED Talk format, followed by 10 minutes for Q&A from participants.
  • Startup & Innovation CoLab powered by Blackstone LaunchPad leads a creative problem-solving ideation session.
  • Students form teams to develop their ideas. Sprints typically last four hours, but the format is flexible—some span two days, other organizations allow up to a week to work out plans.
  • As teams work on their solutions, sponsors provide idea coaches from their organization (often
  • UB alumni), their department, or the community to answer teams’ questions about the subject matter or organization. The CoLab powered by Blackstone LaunchPad provides venture coaches to guide the process and help develop pitches.
  • University Libraries support the event with expertise and resources on a range of venture topics including patents, trademarks and in-depth reference materials.
  • At the finale, teams each have five minutes to pitch their solution to the challenge statement, with an additional five minutes for Q &A. A panel of judges selects the winner!

Past Partners

  • Praxair
  • Rich Products
  • Statdash
  • Univera Healthcare
  • UB's Center for Successful Aging
  • UB Sustainability
  • Office of Interprofessional Education
  • Office of Health Promotion
  • Office of Vice President for Student Life
  • Office of Global Health Initiatives