Social Innovation Challenge Brings Student Solutions to Pressing Problems

Team Morph Marketing, winner of a "People's Choice" award
Madison Sutton

Team Morph Marketing, winner of a "People's Choice" award

University of Arkansas students presented their solutions to pressing social and environmental problems at the third annual Social Innovation Challenge. Led by the Office of Entrepreneurship and Innovation on Dec. 7, the challenge saw 12 teams present their ideas to four competition judges from the business, academic and government communities. Thanks to a sponsorship from Kraft Heinz, the winning teams received funding for implementation of their solutions or professional opportunities such as conference attendance.

The winning team, Suelo, presented a solution to minimize excess water usage in agriculture. Their working prototype monitors soil temperature, moisture, salinity and humidity to notify farmers when a plant needs water. Suelo will launch a pilot project this spring using their technology in locations across campus.

A "People's Choice" award went to team Morph Marketing. Its "Free to Be Me" campaign for Durex empowers young women to own both their sexuality and sexual health. Through campus events and social media, Morph Marketing aims to open the conversation about sexual health while providing resources such as free screenings and condoms.

The Social Innovation Challenge is the annual capstone event of the U of A Social Innovation Initiative, a collaboration of multiple faculty members and external organizations led by Dr. Rogelio Garcia Contreras, director of social innovation.

"It is always inspiring to see how faculty, students, community partners, corporate executives, city officials and many others can work together around a common interest — the need to create a more diverse, inclusive and sustainable world," said Garcia Contreras. "The Social Innovation Challenge is both a tool to create awareness of the synergies and connections existing in our communities around shared problems and an effort to develop collective strategies around promising ideas, so we can explore their viability, determine and eventually scale their impact."

2019 Social Innovation Challenge Teams

  • Hungry Helper LCC
    • Professor: Michael Cummings
  • B&B Advertising
    • Professor: Anne Velliquette
    • Community Partner: Reckitt Benckiser
  • Morph Marketing
    • Professor: Anne Velliquette
    • Community Partner: Reckitt Benckiser
  • Take Food Waste To-Go
    • Professor: Rogelio Garcia Contreras
    • Community Partner: City of Fayetteville
  • Mentality
    • Professor: Rogelio Garcia Contreras
  • Gasoline Runoff Project
    • Student Organization: Enactus
  • The Canopy Shelf
    • Student Organization: Enactus
    • Community Partner: Canopy NWA
  • Revamping Recycling on Campus
    • Professor: Leslie Massey
  • Suelo
    • Independent project
  • Eco-Friendly Nanotech Isophobic Coating
    • Independent project
  • Thanksgiving Share
    • Professor: Tom Hapgood
  • Same Sport
    • Independent project

Andy Albertson, director of communications and entrepreneurial support
Office of Economic Development


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