By Jason Lopata
The BASES Challenge Finale took place in the Arrillaga Alumni Center on the afternoon of Friday, May 8. The rows of tri-fold poster boards at the event’s Public Showcase might remind a viewer of a high school science fair, but the presenters here were pitching innovative business and socially-oriented product concepts. The event’s mass-attendance spoke to the continued strong interest in innovation on this campus. A more novel insight, however, can be gleaned from examining the types of companies presenting.
Of particular note amongst the companies in attendance is the relative abundance of products not based on a smartphone app. Given the preponderance of this type of product to the point of cliche, it was refreshing to see entrepreneurs exploring the world of opportunities available beyond a 4.7 inch screen. Smartphone apps have a lot of potential, and some of the more impressive displays at the event were indeed apps, but it is healthy for an innovative community to pursue opportunities across a broader array of possibilities.
Perhaps one reason for the diverse set of products on display this year is the BASES Challenge’s new consolidated competitive structure. While in past years business and social ventures competed in separate, siloed competitions, this year all ventures are entered into the same competition. At this point, the teams are judged based on two sets of criteria: one for overall venture viability, and one for social impact.
Audacy, a company that aims to provide uninterrupted communications to commercial spacecraft operators, was the overall winner of this year’s BASES Challenge. The winner in the Social Venture category was Evimed, which built a port protector device that attaches a needleless connector on a catheter hub to reduce central-line associated bloodstream infections.
Contact Jason Lopata at jlopata ‘at’ stanford.edu.