Student Innovator of the Year

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It was a big week for the winners of BYU’s Student Innovator of the Year competition. Finalists received more than $48,000 in prizes.

Contestants began developing their ideas as early as September 2023. The final competition was the last week of February.

“So two weeks ago, 45 teams competed and presented all their ideas, and judges whittled them down to the seven finalists who came to this final competition,” the competition’s master of ceremonies, James Perry, said.

The seven final teams had four minutes to pitch their products on stage to a live audience and a panel of five judges. Each team received $4,000 for being finalists, with additional cash prizes for first, second and third place, as well as an audience pick.

Judges use a three-part criteria to select winners — engineering, innovation and impact.

The winning team, “Spot Parking,” created machine-learning software to increase parking-ticket revenue using security cameras to ticket illegally parked vehicles automatically.

The students hope to sell their product to universities, airports and cities. It is already in limited use at BYU.

“This idea can’t be very popular with your roommates,” one of the judges said to Spot Parking.

“No, it’s not, it’s not,” they replied as the crowd laughed. They said it will “revolutionize the parking enforcement industry.”

Second place was “Salt Block Inoculum,” a team focused on creating seeds capable of growing in overly salty soil.

Students hope their product, priced at 50 cents for every $150 spent on seeds, will improve farmer’s yields worldwide.

“We’re really thankful for BYU, and the innovation that happens here, so we’re really excited that we got to compete here, and to share more about our idea,” one of Salt Block Inoculum’s team members said.

Other teams pitched solutions such as pH based cancer cell treatments, gut imbalance blood testing, AI voice call automation in medical centers, easy asphalt repair products, and AI stroke lesion detection.

BYU holds the competition yearly and it is open to students of all majors.

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