The 2018 Innovation Academy Catalyst Challenge begins with the question:
“How might we use innovation to protect the biodiversity in our hometowns?”
The question originates from the University of Florida’s Gator Good campaign which calls the Gator Nation to work together to solve the wicked problems that our planet faces (University of Florida, 2018). This year the Innovation Academy is doing its part to join the #GatorGood campaign and ideate innovative change solutions related to Biodiversity.
The UF Biodiversity Institute is committed to studying and protecting the biodiversity of Florida and the world. Biodiversity is also a topic that is integral to eight of the seventeen United Nations Sustainable Development Goals including: responsible consumption and production, climate action, life below water, life on land, clean water and sanitation, affordable and clean energy, and good health and well-being (United Nations, 2017). Furthermore, biodiversity is linked to our economics, education, ecology, biology, sustainability, and even human rights.
In our sixth annual Innovation Academy Catalyst Innovation Challenge we are calling for innovative solutions that will protect, conserve, regenerate, neutralize, stabilize, maintain, and improve the future of the earth’s biodiversity (University of Florida, 2018). In alignment with the University of Florida’s land-grant mission, students will specifically focus on making a difference in the state of Florida and the other regionalized places that our students are from. New York Times best-selling author and environmental activist, Paul Hawkins (Personal communication, April 9, 2018), said, “As humans we cannot live here without understanding where we live.” It is our hope that the Catalyst project is a launching point that inspires students to move their ideas forward beyond the classroom and apply their innovative solutions to the communities they live in even after the course ends.
A few key areas where new solutions can have a big impact are: improving access to conservation and protection resources, offering relevant education that includes obtainable calls-to-action, designing disruptive models that increase customization, flexible and sustainable methods that adopt easily to changes, on-demand economic models, capturing, curating, and applying Big Data, and using technology for Crowdsourcing, product development, and systems development (Tucker, 2015)
It is up to each student team to revise a more specific “How Might We” innovation question using the human-centered design thinking process. Course instructors will guide students in a five-week rapid prototyping sprint that will lead to an original idea, new approach, or innovative design solution. At the conclusion of the semester, students will present their idea, prototype, informational poster, and persuasive pitch at the Catalyst Showcase. The Catalyst Showcase event will be held on June 15th 2-4:30pm (Summer A) and August 3rd 2:00-4:30pm (Summer B) in the Rion Ballroom of the Reitz Union. The Innovation Academy invites members of the community, family, friends, fellow innovators and people passionate about biodiversity to attend.