The Maine Ideas Challenge provides students with the opportunity to propose transformative solutions to real-world problems. Innovative solutions can come from any field at any scale – from a new business idea that changes a market to a social innovation that changes lives.

In Phase 1, individual students can propose an idea and win recognition and a monetary award for their submission. In Phase 2, interprofessional teams will be formed around the best ideas and teams will compete for a chance to win a share of up to $6k in prizes. Depending on the project idea, winning teams may go on to present at international conferences or compete at the state and national level for additional funding. 

Phase 1: Creativity

Eligible students are invited to submit an idea by noon on December 17, 2021 via the website. Up to 10 ideas will be selected for awards. The winners will have the option to continue to the final round of the contest with a mentor and team. All applicants will be notified of their status in January.

Phase 2: Viability

Applicants selected for the final round will receive help developing their idea. In this round, teams will expand on the design of their ideas and incorporate the judges’ feedback. The presentation of final awards will take place in April.

The P.D. Merrill Charitable Trust

The P.D. Merrill Charitable Trust has been an integral part of UNE’s Innovation Challenge since its inception in 2016. With the support of the Trust, the Innovation Challenge has expanded each year and has materially contributed to the success of the students who have participated.

Business Department, UNE College of Arts and Sciences

The Business Department in the College of Arts and Sciences at UNE has been instrumental in establishing and organizing the Innovation Challenge as a signature event on campus. Business students have played a key role in helping innovation teams, and the department continues to support the expansion of the Challenge as a university-wide event that serves to inspire innovation and entrepreneurship.