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Turning Innovation Into Enterprise


More Than 200 Compete in University of Charleston’s I3 Innovation Showcase

A river may separate the City of Charleston from its university, but, on April 19th, the two became one as the University of Charleston hosted its inaugural I3 Innovation Showcase & Innovation Fair.  I3 — ideas, inventions & innovations — was the culmination of a year of effort and celebration as the University of Charleston launched its Russell & Martha Wehrle Innovation Center.

Thirty-nine community leaders from a wide variety of industries spent the day on campus to judge the 227 showcase participants.  Hospital administrators, government and community leaders, lawyers, artists, entrepreneurs, bankers, economic development experts, store managers, corporate officers, researchers, community relations professionals, and engineers sat side-by-side in order to evaluate the innovative work of the University of Charleston’s faculty and students.  Several of the judges were successful UC alumni.

The 227 participants competed for more than $20,000 in prize money in 11 categories that encompassed innovations in product development, process improvement, services, art, and research.  The participants were given 15-20 minutes to pitch their ideas and deliver their presentations, and the panelists were given opportunities to ask questions and give constructive criticism, feedback, and advice.

The Innovation Showcase and competition was scheduled in concert with the Innovation Fair, a campus-wide celebration of entrepreneurship and small business development as well as health & wellness.  The I3 interactive showcase & innovation fair was the first of its kind on campus and its mission was to bring to life the essence of innovation- to make it concrete…something you could see, hear, touch, and yes, even taste; something that would communicate to Charleston, the surrounding community, and the region at large that the University of Charleston is the Destination for Innovation in the greater Kanawha Valley.

A picture is worth a thousand words, so we encourage you to check out @ucwvinnovation on Twitter and our University of Charleston Innovation Center Facebook page for compelling photos! The list of winners can be found online at:

The numbers from I3 also paint a picture of the culture shift on UC’s campus.  There were 11 categories consisting of 15 product pitches, 18 process/service improvement pitches, 47 research presentations, 17 works of art, 60+ poster presentations, 2 popup stores, 2 food trucks, a craft beer brewing demo, a UC Athletics “Combine,” a UC Athletics garage sale, 500 smoothies/juices/coffee served at the SmooJu Café, and literally thousands of student, faculty, & community interactions during the showcase & innovation fair.

In launching this inaugural event, the University of Charleston is proud to commit to growing this event and others like it so that the shift in culture toward innovation & entrepreneurship expands beyond its campus borders into its home community.  The 2018 I3 Showcase & Innovation Fair is scheduled for April 18, 2018 and the community is invited to attend.