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Innovation thrives among BW students

From phone cases to life-saving bracelets, new ideas are bubbling up all around campus, and BW's Center for Innovation and Growth (CIG) and LaunchNET are working to encourage innovation and the possibility of getting those ideas to the next stage of entrepreneurship.

"Start Something BW" is an annual contest that aims to get students thinking about solving problems both on and off campus. Winners from the 2020 competition were awarded funds - $350 for first place and $150 for second place - that can be used to make their ideas a reality.

Student Ideas Move and Connect People

Photo of "Start Something BW" 2020 winnersAmong the winning 2020 ideas, BWDIRECT envisions a ride-share service run by BW students to help other students without a vehicle get around Berea and the Cleveland metro area.

The concept offers a level of comfort, knowing that a student is riding with another BW student, and helps the student driver financially.

The system would be "paired with an app or Google Forms where a student can request a ride 24 hours in advance" to run errands, get to off-campus interviews or activities.

For those struggling with hearing who depend on lip reading, the pandemic has been quite a challenge because of mask-wearing. Jessica Lostoski '23 has an idea for a mask with a clear front and a microphone inside to amplify the voice.

Photo of Jessica Lostoski '23

"I came up with this idea after standing in line at the campus Starbucks one morning, and I noticed that the baristas there were struggling to hear their customers through their masks," Lostoski explains. "When it came to my turn to order, I noticed that I had to repeat my order and speak much louder than normal."

This device could change people's lives while allowing their social interaction to remain safe.

2020 Winning ideas

The full list of winning ideas includes:

Best New Start-Up/Prototype

1st Place - Turtle Phone Case: A shock protection for your phone by Caitlin Jurcago, Kate Lenihan, Nick Pankow and Brady Ullom

2nd Place - Lifeband: An anti-drowning bracelet by Zachary Pierce

Best COVID-19 Innovation

1st Place - See-through Mask/Microphone: A see-through mask with a built-in microphone by Jessica Lostoski

2nd Place - Maskne: A mask that includes acne-fighting medicine by Milica Radivojevic

Best Idea for BW

1st Place - BWDIRECT: A student-run ride-share driving system by Leslie Bell, John Blake, Nicki Hodgkiss, Regan Olak, Greg Paparizos and Natalie Reichert

2nd Place - Musicians Injury and Prevention Clinic: Specialists who provide support and treatment for physical injuries related to playing instruments by Jessica Jonczyk


Fountain Seating Area: Creating collaborative outdoor space use on the north quad where students, faculty and staff can work together outside by Dr. Susan Finelli-Genovese

Year-round LaunchNET Support

At any time of year, students can work with LaunchNET to start something of their own. It's as easy as completing a venture form.


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