Catalyst Overview2016 ChallengeGuidelinesPreparationsAttireAwards

What is Catalyst?

Catalyst is the culminating event for the Creativity-in-Action practicum course. Innovation Academy students present and display a prototype of a product, service, or model developed in a team environment inspired by the human-centered design thinking process of innovation. Catalyst is an opportunity for first-year IA students to demonstrate their creativity, passion, and dedication to innovation. Guests include UF administrators, college faculty & staff, IA speakers, local business leaders, innovators, patent attorneys, and venture capitalists.

Event Details

  • Location: Emerson Hall
  • Summer B: July 29th at 2pm-4:30pm

Catalyst Parking Suggestions



This year’s 2016 Innovation Academy Catalyst challenge begins with the big idea: How might we improve our planet by decreasing food loss and waste?

The Gator Good is a UF sponsored social network campaign urging Gators around the globe to be change-makers by finding innovative solutions to the big challenges facing our planet. The #GatorGood initiative asks students, faculty, alumni, and the UF community to share cutting-edge solutions to issues such as: economic crisis, health, education & learning, and human rights, among others. This year, Innovation Academy’s Catalyst Innovation Challenge, is joining the #GatorGood to create new ideas related to Environmental Sustainability.

According to the World Food Programme (WFP, 2016) one in nine people do not get enough food to be healthy and lead an active life. At the same time, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO; 2016) asserted that, “…the world is producing more than enough food. Recovering just half of what is lost or wasted could feed the world alone.” Food waste occurs in all stages of food production, from the farm, through to personal consumption. The FAO (2016) states that problems may be in “harvesting, storage, packing, transport, infrastructure or market/ price mechanisms, as well as institutional and legal frameworks.” Furthermore, in the US, nearly 1lb of consumable food is thrown away per day, per person (Bloom, 2010). That totals nearly 320 million pounds of useable food that is discarded every day (United States Census Bureau, 2016)! Getting people to utilize our planet’s food resources in an effective and sustainable way has the potential to improve the human experience and save millions of lives.

Catalyst Demonstration


For our fourth annual IA Catalyst Innovation Challenge, we are calling for innovative solutions to decrease food loss and waste. Students will focus on a specific population, issue, or process that is a starting place for a solution. A few key areas where innovations have a big impact are: improving access to supportive resources, ensuring access to relevant educational information, designing disruptive models, flexibility & customization, utilizing on-demand economic models, capturing, curating, and applying Big Data, and using technology for Crowdsourcing, product development, and systems development (Tucker, 2015; See “The Five Hottest Innovation Trends” for additional information).

Using the big How Might We question as a starting point, students will work with a team of IA classmates to craft a more specific question that gets their team excited to innovate. Using the design thinking process the IDS1359 course instructor will guide students in a 5-week rapid prototyping process using methods from Google Venture’s Sprint and IDEO’s human-centered design that will lead to an original and innovative design solution. Students will bring their ideas to a full prototype and present their innovative solutions at the IA Catalyst Showcase.

Catalyst Demonstration


References Bloom, J. (2010). American Wasteland: How America throws away nearly half of its food. Boston, MA: Da Capo Press. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2016). Food loss and food waste. Retrieved from: Tucker, R. B. (2015, September 24). The five hottest innovation trends. Retrieved from: United States Census Bureau. (2016). U.S. and World Population Clock. Retrieved from: University of Florida. (2016). Environment and sustainability. Retrieved from: World Food Programme. (2016). Hunger. Retrieved from:

Answers the Big Idea: How might we improve the planet by decreasing food loss and waste?
Novel: Clearly demonstrates a new approach to a problem, or uses an existing approach in a unique and interesting way. Something that hasn’t been done before and does not already exist.
Appropriate: Design solution is ethical, legal, and works to solve a pressing and real problem
Context: Team has thoroughly researched the people, places, and industries that will be served by the innovation. Empathetic human-centered design is evident.
Desirable: Innovation will easily fit into people’s lives, it will appeal to people to use or buy, and people will actually want it
Feasible: Technology to make the design solution is available or within reach, innovation can be made or implemented in a reasonable amount of time, and a business or organization can foreseeably make the design solution happen
Viable: Design solution will realistically align with business or organizational goals, is financially possible, and has potential for a return on investment
Well-Presented: Visual components are aesthetically strong, well-organized, and catch viewer’s attention. The pitch is professional, compelling, interactive, relatable, clear, and demonstrates a vision for future implementation

Remember that Catalyst is a well-attended event by University faculty and administration, innovation business leaders, and potential internship or job employers. You want to make a good impression!

To be prepared for Catalyst make sure:

  • Project follows Submission Guidelines (previous tab)
  • Team registered no later than 11:59pm on Sunday May 29 (Summer A) or Sunday July 17th (Summer B); Registration form is on the main Catalyst page
  • Attendance is required and part of your grade for IDS 1359
  • If you cannot make Catalyst due to a class conflict, you must notify your instructor no later than 2 weeks prior to the event. The IA office can provide a letter for a student to be excused from their other class during that time.
  • Dress is business casual or business attire (see Attire tab)
  • Arrive prior to the event for set-up
    • See parking map for parking locations (on main Catalyst page)
    • Set up beings at 1:30pm
    • Ready to begin pitching at 1:55pm
    • Event starts at 2:00pm
  • Poster and Prototype specifications:
    • Poster 20” x 30” mounted on foam core. No tri-fold poster boards
    • Bring easel or stand so that the Poster stands upright on the table (there are no walls to prop the poster on)
    • Total display space is 6 ft. table. Entirety of poster, prototype, and display must fit on table
    • Batteries fully-charged on all devices and prototypes (there are no available power sources to plug into)
    • Provide battery power supply if prototype requires electrical power
    • You will be provided with a black table cloth for the table
  • Poster. Prototype. And Pitch suggestions
    • Poster is well-designed, professional, and visible
    • All team members are present, visible, and actively engaged in the pitching process
    • Prepare both 30 sec. and 60 sec. pitches of your project
    • Be prepared to answer questions, like: How would you actually execute this prototype if given the opportunity to startup?
    • Take turns pitching among your group so that one person isn’t doing all the work
    • Practice, practice, practice before the event!
    • Be prepared for feedback. With some refining, your good idea could be eligible for the Big Pitch Competition (to win money) or even to take to market and start a business! Receptivity to constructive feedback is how innovators make it happen.
    • Utilize resources and people on campus who can help you develop a professional-looking prototype. Prototypes can be made with inexpensive or free materials and still look professional and polished.
    • Have fun! Innovative minds are collaborative, playful, and optimistic.

Poster Printing Cost & Resources:

  • UF Library printing plotters (cheaper option, but requires knowledge of printing preparation and software as well as self-mounting. Will need to buy your own foam core and adhesive for mounting)
    • Est. cost: $9 printing, $7-10 board and adhesive
  • Target Copy (can choose to self-mount or have them provide foam board & mount for a fee). If you tell them you are an IA student and give them your instructor’s name and section, you can receive a 10% discount for being with IA.
    • Est. cost before discount: $18 printing, $20 dry mounting
    • Target Copy Contact: Karen Kain

Business Casual

The key to business casual is exactly what the name implies; it’s not quite business professional, but not casual either. You want to aim for attire that would be appropriate in a casual office setting. Typically, you should steer clear of denim, such as jeans, although the individual setting may allow for a dark-wash, clean cut jean to be worn. If you are unsure of the setting, air on the side of caution and go with a crisp pair of khakis, which will work in any setting described as business casual.

Some examples of what may be worn in typical business casual attire are as follows:

  • Skirt, khakis, or pants
  • Open-collar shirt, knit shirt or sweater (no spaghetti straps or décolleté)
  • Dress
  • Seasonal sport coat or blazer with slacks or khakis
  • Dress shirt, casual button-down shirt, open-collar or polo shirt
  • Flats, heels, or nice sandals; no flip-flops, sneakers, or platform heels
  • Loafers or loafer-style shoes or closed-toe dress shoes


Products and/or services awarded the Make it Happen designation are evaluated on their potential for implementation. The team has done an outstanding job in demonstrating a clear path for implementing their proposed solution, and articulating a viable strategy for taking the product/service to market.

THE GATOR GOOD AWARD (formerly The Common Good):

This new award category aligns with the University of Florida’s 2016 Gator Good Social Network Campaign, urging Gators worldwide to be change makers – finding innovative solutions to the big challenges facing our planet. The product/service awarded in this category provides cutting-edge solutions to global social challenges such as: health, economic crisis, natural disasters, education, poverty and hunger, medicine, human rights, and environmental sustainability.


The Bright Idea Award is awarded based on passion, ingenuity, novelty, vision, and imagination demonstrated in the creation of a product/service. This project/service exemplifies out-of-the-box thinking in design, process, and innovation.


Products/services awarded the Power of Design Award reflect empathy, integrative thinking, optimism, experimentalism and collaboration, demonstrating teams’ understanding of the Design Thinking process. The product/service design integrates the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.


We want to hear what you think! CATALYST attendees vote for their favorite teams throughout the showcase at designated polling stations. The People’s Choice Award will go to the team with the highest total points.


Judges award a remarkable team that stood out for reasons other than the aforementioned categories.