University of Southern Indiana

Winning ARC Ideation Contest ideas will help local business

Winning ARC Ideation Contest ideas will help local business

11/9/2009 | University Communications
Evansville ARC could start manufacturing Neil Kassinger's concept tomorrow, and that's part of the reason the University of Southern Indiana freshman won first place in the ARC Ideation Contest sponsored by the USI College of Business and the Center for Applied Research.

Kassinger, a business administration major with minors in management and entrepreneurship, submitted the winning entry, a communication tool for young adults and children. Because the concept is copyrighted, details are not available for publication at this time, but Bryan Bourdeau, instructor in business in the management department, said, "It would be a user-friendly product in the medical industry for children that have hearing or speaking disabilities, or some comfort issues with providing answers to physicians, dentists and the like."

Kassinger, of Owensboro, Kentucky, is an Apollo High School graduate. As first place winner, he will receive a $500 cash prize, the chance to see his concept manufactured, and the opportunity to help ARC Industries, a division of Evansville ARC, a local not-for-profit organization that serves individuals with developmental disabilities.

ARC Industries employs over 300 workers every year in its ISO certified manufacturing facility, more than 200 of whom have disabilities. Bourdeau said, "Evansville ARC is very excited about the idea. Next we're going to sit down and talk about the feasibility of production, sales, and marketing."

Last year's Ideation Contest was not associated with a particular company, but only required students to submit feasible, profitable business ideas that would benefit society. This year, the fourth year for the contest, students were asked to tackle a real-world problem to benefit a local company.

"Evansville ARC's issue this year has been sustainability of their workforce," Bourdeau said. "ARC is beholden to our community and our region. They don't have their own proprietary product, so if their customer's business suffers, their business suffers through no fault of their own."

ARC also is enthusiastic about the second- and third-place ideas, and may look into their feasibility as well. "The judging was very close. It was just a matter of a couple of points, but it came down to rapid accessibility to market and what Evansville ARC could start producing immediately."

Second-place winner Matt Herman, a freshman business administration major, submitted a new product idea for animal transportation and won a $300 prize. Marquis Dennis, a sophomore engineering major, won third place and $200 with a high-tech clothing idea.

Deidra Conner, president of Evansville ARC, said, "The University was looking for an opportunity for students to exercise their entrepreneurial and problem-solving skills to benefit a local organization, and ARC Industries was looking for a product we could own and manage. We now have several great ideas from the USI students we believe could be viable products for the marketplace and viable products to be manufactured in our local facility - creating more jobs and income for individuals with disabilities."

The process by which the ideas were collected is called crowdsourcing. Bourdeau said, "Crowdsourcing is focusing the collective intelligence of a group on solving the specific issues of a company. It saves time, money, and resources. If it works for ARC it could work for other businesses. Through the College of Business we could potentially crowdsource the entire Evansville community and assist other local businesses. It is possible to expedite economic development."
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