March 14, 2017
MARTINSVILLE, VA – Over the last month, a diverse group of community members ranging from 13 to 60 years old competed in Patrick Henry Community College’s (PHCC) second Big IDEA Challenge – a 30-day competition challenging participants to develop their ideas into new products or technologies.
The challenge winner was the Pearson team led by thirteen year old Alex Pearson. Pearson is an 8th grader at Laurel Park Middle School and is the daughter of Will & Tammy Pearson and the late Jerry Moore.
Pearson’s mother and partner in the challenge said, “Alex came up with her product idea a few years ago and talks about it often. We were excited to join the Big IDEA challenge because we knew it could be her opportunity to turn her dream into reality. I was glad to help her during the challenge, but Alex led the project and completed the majority of the work.”
For 30 days, contestants worked in PHCC’s IDEA Center researching and testing their ideas. The 10 participants worked to develop basic prototypes and pitched their ideas to a panel of investors and experts. The panel judged the pitches on product viability and marketability and presentation clarity and poise
As the challenge winner, Pearson receives a marketing and development prize package valued over $5,000. The goal of the challenge is to develop new opportunities and create new jobs in Martinsville and Henry County - a goal that Pearson shares. She intends to manufacture and source her product locally as much as possible. Pearson says she is already speaking with area suppliers and aims to finalize her patent within the year.
The Pearson team is keeping the nature of Pearson’s product quiet for now until they establish a patent with the federal government. But, Pearson shares that her idea is going to help a broad range of people. She also hints that the product is designed for animal lovers like herself.
As part of her prize, Pearson has a spot in Startup Martinsville which began on March 2. During this challenge, Pearson will compete for up to $50,000 in grant funds. If Pearson were to win funds from this challenge, she could use the money to offset the startup costs for manufacturing her product.
The next Big IDEA Challenge is slated for fall 2017.
Patrick Henry Community College, a comprehensive two-year institution, services Martinsville city as well as Patrick and Henry counties. PHCC is a top tier leader among community colleges in areas such as athletics, technology, and unique program offerings. By providing a multitude of innovative curricula such as motorsports, entrepreneurship, and mechatronics, PHCC is changing lives and enriching the community it serves. PHCC is an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution.
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