Nearly 200 students walked the red carpet on campus Thursday night at the 2016 Entrepreneurial Oscars, held at the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
The evening was hosted by MPowered Entrepreneurship, a student organization whose mission is to introduce students to entrepreneurship opportunities, with the aim of honoring the year’s most innovative students, student organizations, startups and creations.
Prior to the event, students nominated student groups or individuals in 21 categories, including Most Impact in Health/Philanthropy, Best New Idea, Best Business Model and Most Educational Impact.
LSA junior Sydney Bigelow, president of MPowered Entrepreneurship, said the event was held to highlight organizations and individuals who have made an impact on campus.
“The purpose of the Entrepreneurial Oscars is to bring together all of these amazing student organizations, student leaders, student startups and individuals within the University of Michigan community that are just doing amazing things on campus,” she said. “That are changing the landscape, that are changing the world — and we want to recognize them for that.”
Bigelow noted that the awards were not limited to entrepreneurial endeavors, but offered to any student organization that has made an impact within the last year.
She said the event gives students the opportunity to get to know others in the University community who have similar aspirations within their startup companies or student organizations.
“We want to be able to recognize people, see these other organizations that are doing similar things — things that maybe complement what your organization is doing — and find out ways that we can work together and at least get to know each other,” she said. “I think this is one big event that helps do that.”
The award for Most Educational Impact award went to TEDxUofM, a student group that provides a platform for University community members to share their ideas on innovative topics.
LSA sophomore Sophia Svoboda, who is one of the co-directors of the organization, said having a community of entrepreneurs on campus had a number of benefits.
“This event is a great way for all of the different student orgs and entrepreneurial-focused groups to get together and build a stronger community,” she said. “Because sometimes you need to have that support and be able to talk to others.”
Nine of the 21 awards went to groups or individuals for their participation in 1000 Pitches, an annual MPowered competition that allows students to pitch ideas and solutions to problems. Winners receive $1,000 toward implementing their idea.
Neuroscience graduate student Ramses Alcaide took home two awards for his startup company Neurable, one of which was for his participation in 1000 Pitches.
The company’s product is a brain-computer interface that allows people to control devices like cars with only their brain activity.
Alcaide said recognition for entrepreneurship is important because it encourages people to move forward with their dreams despite the difficult work inherent in achieving them.
“It’s good to give recognition to the entrepreneurial groups here at the University, especially because entrepreneurship is a very difficult road, and it keeps people motivated,” Alcaide said. “If you do entrepreneurship right, every day and every minute is work. You’re pushing your company and your dreams forward. That’s a full-time thing. Getting recognition for that gives you the energy to keep going.”