Cultivating more than just ideas at CMU

By Posted March 23rd, 2013

560966_258635840907406_1642611404_nSpinifexIT recently had the great honor of sponsoring and participating in the annual New Venture Competition at Central Michigan University. Each year, teams from CMU and nearby Michigan Technological University develop business plans and present their plans to panels of judges in the hopes of winning one of many cash prizes they can use to start, or further, their business idea.

As I sat and watched 27 teams pitch their ideas, I was reminded of what Arthur C. Clarke said about ideas. Clarke said that new ideas pass through three stages: “It can’t be done”, “It probably can be done, but it’s not worth doing”, and “I knew it was a good idea all along!”. It was up to the students to convince the judges that their new business idea fell into Clarke’s third stage.

The proposed business ventures ranged from service-oriented to amazing technical innovations to social entrepreneurship. This diversity made it extremely interesting and, for the judges, very difficult to choose a winner. Nonetheless, at the end of a long day filled with presentations, elevator pitches and panel discussions, winners were crowned at a wonderful reception hosted by CMU.

SpinifexIT North America CEO Shad Adair was on hand to serve as a judge for the competition and SpinifexIT also sponsored the award for Best New Technology. I’m sure if you ask Shad he will tell you honestly that all of the ideas were worthy of the prize, but at the end, only one business proposal could win.

Shad Adair with Northern Aquaponics team membersThe winner of the Best Technology Award was presented to a venture called “Northern Aquaponics” put forth by students Joshua Krugh, Robert Handler, Josh Davis and Jacob Bray (Krugh and Bray can be seen at the left with Shad Adair). Northern Aquaponics created a unique indoor farming operation using technology that is similar to hydroponics but uses water from a live fish tank to provide nutrients to the plants. The innovative process provides a new option for fresh, locally sourced produce in areas of the country that have limited growing seasons. By working year-round, Northern Aquaponics will be able to provide many types of fresh, local produce that would normally be sourced from hundreds or even thousands of miles away. Before the competition, the team established a pilot plant and even established a relationship with a local hospital that has agreed to purchase produce and food products from the organization.

Congratulations to Northern Aquaponics and to all of the teams that participated in this year’s CMU New Venture Competition. SpinifexIT was thrilled to be a part of it all. And, about those winning ideas … I knew they were good all along.