Hosting the 100-Hour Challenge During Challenging Times

On November 12-16, 2020, the StartUp Learning Community hosted its annual 100-Hour Challenge, a signature innovation contest on UW-Madison’s campus. The purpose of the Challenge is to help participants realize that innovation can be sparked by an eclectic array of materials and that their ability to pitch their ideas is an important part of entrepreneurial success.

In the past, participating students—the majority of whom are undergraduates—created a new product prototype using cast-off salvage from UW-Madison’s Surplus with a Purpose (SWAP). Given the impossibility any sort of of SWAP item pick up this year given COVID-19, the Challenge had to be completely rethought from a materials perspective. After consideration, it was decided this year’s participating students would create their entries for the Challenge using materials easily found in their dorm rooms, apartments or homes.

The contest kicked off Thursday when students could log onto the 100-Hour Challenge website to see the list of “approved items” for creating their prototypes. Then, they spent a long weekend transforming their items into ideas they pitched to a team of community judges. The entries were evaluated in three categories: most potential revenue value, most potential social value and creativity.

This year’s winners once again prove that with a little ingenuity and a lot of passion, great ideas can come to fruition over a long weekend. Even when masked and six-feet apart.

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